VMware Tools Fail During Upgrade / Uninstall

As I’ve upgraded my lab environment to vSphere over the weekend, I’ve been running across the occasional VM that fails to allow me to upgrade it’s VMware Tools.  This seems to be predominantly happening with my Windows Server 2008 VMs. 

I’ve received various error messages including ‘can’t find vmware tools.msi’ looking at c:windowsinstallers, and messages stating that Installation cannnot continue because a previous version is installed, even though it had just been removed.  FRUSTRATING!  Fortunately, this isn’t the first time people are running across it and there’s a VMware KB article on how to address this.

Issues as noted on the VMware KB:

  • Unable to upgrade existing VMware Tools
  • Unable to upgrade existing installation of VMware Tools because the previous installation fails to be removed
  • The uninstall feature of VMware Tools fails to complete, and finally
  • Cannot uninstall VMware Tools.

All this boils down to ‘IT’S BROKE!  HOW CAN I FIX IT!?’

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You can try the quick method that I’ve used that works 50% of the time:

  1. Run the Uninstaller from Add/Remove Programs.  When it fails to find the file VMware Tools.msi, copy the missing file to C:WindowsInstaller.  You won’t be able to see the directory, it’s hidden, even with show hidden files enabled, but you can type C:WindowsInstaller and press enter, into a Windows Explorer window and you’re there.

    You can find the VMware Tools.msi file on the VMware Tools CD image that mounts when you’re trying to install the VMware Tools.  Hopefully you know how to get to that.  If not, drop me a note and I’ll add it or email you.

  2. When you receive the warnings about further missing files, keep on clicking ‘Ignore’.  When it’s done, the tools should be ‘Uninstalled’ though I’m sure it isn’t clean.
  3. You should then be able to install the new version of VMware Tools from your mounted CD image.

If the quick and dirty methods doesn’t work, well I’m not going to rebuild the wheel, so here’s the link to the longer method posted in the VMware KB. :)  Plan on spending a little bit of time in the registry. >,<

Unable to upgrade existing VMware Tools


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