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Programs that block each other

Updated on December 25, 2016

Has your software gone on strike? Perhaps the applications on your computer are in conflict with each other! Here’s how to fix the problem.

If your drives suddenly go missing, the PC slows down or you are unable to establish a connection to the Internet, it is not always Windows’ fault. Tools that need access to the same resources can be equally responsible for such problems. Finding the root causes of such problems isn’t so easy, and even though Windows maintains a log of crashes and errors (which you can find in the Event Viewer under Computer Management), it is of limited use, and does not record instances of conflicts between software programs. Thus, we take a look at some of the most important types of programs which can cause conflicts with others if they are on the same PC, and even give you solutions.

Firewalls: Double the work for nought

Running two firewalls will hardly ever increase your security; more often than not, they create problems for each other. Each firewall separately blocks all ports that are not required by Windows. This burdens the computer even for day-today work. You can actually spare your computer its extra load by running a firewall on your home router instead of on the PC. If you do have multiple firewalls, you will have to configure which ports to forward on both of them, for instance to troubleshoot your Torrent client or multiplayer games. Just as with virus scanners, two PC firewalls also access the same system resources. For example, Norton Internet Security Suite from Symantec deactivates the Windows firewall at the time of installation so that it does not come in the way of Norton’s Smart Firewall. But this function is known to function sporadically under XP, resulting in the Windows firewall getting activated again after a restart. If this happens, you often get frustrated enough to manually deactivate the Windows

firewall in the registry. For this, open Regedit via ‘Start | Run...’. Then navigate

your way to ‘HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE | SYSTEM | CurrentControlSet | Services | SharedAccess | Parameters | Firewall Policy | StandardProfile'. Here, change the value of “Enable Firewall” to ‘0’

Security suite rivalry

Often, problems arise when two security suites or virus scanners are installed. The least damaging consequence in such situations is that your PC will experience extra load and give you extra headaches. The number of false alarms might also increase. But the worst possibility is that the suites get in each other’s ways, since they are, after all, looking for and analyzing the same files and putting them in quarantine when required. This obviously does not apply to two

scan engines in one suite, for example antivirus and antispyware, since they

would be synchronized. Quite a few suites such as Norton or Kaspersky scan the PC for other security programs at the time of installation and request the user to decide between them. But this can lead to nasty surprises—who would want to do away with an important antispyware tool such as Spybot while installing an antivirus program such as Kaspersky? The reason that a conflict arises is spybot’s TeaTimer module, the part of it that stays active all the time and monitors all changes in the registry just as its Kaspersky counterpart does. Thus, both access the same system resources. However, it is possible to retain Spybot and just switch off TeaTimer —both programs can then exist on the same PC. But you first have to handle Kaspersky’s request at the time of installation: unpack its setup files for installation by starting the process but aborting it when the Spybot warning appears. Then, you’ll have to go to ‘Start |Run…’ and then to the command line by typing ‘cmd’. Navigate your way to the temporary setup directory; you will generally find it at ‘Documents and Settings\All  sers\Application Data\Kaspersky Lab Setup Files’. Once there, run the file ‘Setup.exe’ with the following command: “setup.exe /pSKIPPRODUCTCHECK=1”. The installation routine will then run again,

without the compatibility query. Sometimes, an alarm might still go

off even though the user has removed an old or incompatible virus scanner.

This happens because uninstallation routines do not always run smoothly,

and leftovers on the hard drive and in the registry could make the new

program believe it is not alone. Such unnecessary registry entries can be

tracked either with the simple Regedit search function or using dedicated

registry cleanup tools. You can also uninstall the old software completely

with special tools such as Revo Uninstaller. Revo not only runs the

appropriate uninstallation routine when you want to get rid of software, but it

also sifts through the system looking for residue and deletes what it finds.

The use of only one security suite is recommended for the sake of real time

protection. This is also proven by the problems faced by users of Microsoft’s

Windows Defender anti spyware tool—other security software can hang

when Defender is active, and heuristic scanning might produce false alarms.

In such cases, you should uninstall Defender from Windows. You can do

so through ‘Control Panel | Add or Remove Programs’, or under Vista,

you can simply deactivate it (which is the preferred option). Go to ‘Start | All

Programs | Windows Defender’, click on ‘Tools | Options’ in the Defender

menu bar, and remove the check before ‘Activate real time protection’ in the

‘Real time protection’ options.

Playing everything or nothing at all

Having several media players on one system is quite a common practice. However, what is irritating is that many of these players take over all possible

multimedia formats, and not just the ones you want them to play. Doubleclicking

a particular file should start playing it with the program you want, but several programs try to impose themselves on your files. Nero ShowTime lets you choose which formats you want it to take over only during installation; this cannot be done afterwards. QuickTime, on the other hand, provides the user with this

option under ‘Edit | Settings | QuickTime Settings’. Here, you can change the

associated formats under ‘File types’ and also deactivate the message

asking you to switch back if another player takes over playback of any of the

selected formats. If both these players were actually able to play all formats that they monopolize, one could probably overlook their behavior, but for example,

an MP4 file with an AC3 audio track (which is quite common, but not exactly

a formal standard) can trip both of them up. ShowTime will play the video without any audio, and Quicktime will only display an error message, leaving the user confused. On the other hand, VLC Media Player ( can handle these MP4 files and also more or less every other format. You can determine which formats VLC should be associated with at the time of installation, and in case another player snatches formats from it, you can undo this by running the

installer again.

The fight for the drive

More examples of software conflicts can be found in the area of CD/DVD

packet writing. This requires a program which prepares blank disks in the UDF

file format, which can then be used as storage media that allow multiple write

sessions and even deleting unwanted files from optical discs. Since hard disk

space and even pen drives were not always so cheap and abundant, this was

once a useful function, but really isn’t very popular anymore. And it causes trouble: for editing UDF discs, the burning program installs its own driver in the system. This driver gives it exclusive access to the optical drive. All other burning programs are thus sidelined, and don’t function anymore. Even if you do not use the UDF-related Nero or WinOnCD modules, packet writing is activated as soon as you install them. You should thus always opt for the custom installation routine

if available, and deselect the packet writing modules (sometimes called Drive

Letter Access). Those who really need to use packet writing with their optical media would be better off better completely switching to DVD RAM or BD-RE. Both formats can access discs directly, doing away with the need for a software

driver. However for sheer convenience, portable hard drives are far superior.

And who would have thought that Apple’s new iTunes 8 would be a cause

of conflict with burning software? The problem has even caused the burning drive in Windows Explorer to disappear for some Vista users. The reason: Apple uses the driver from the burning program Gear, which isn’t on very good terms with the AFS driver from Oak Technologies. Even if you have never heard of an AFS driver, it is possibly present on your system. Many companies use it as a burning driver, for instance HP. Some PC manufacturers deliver it with OEM products such as Memories Disk Creator. Since AFS drivers are not meant for

Vista, they can lead to a total crash of the drive if used in combination with

Gear’s drivers. The only solution is to delete or rename the AFS drivers, so

that Vista no longer finds them. To do this, navigate to ‘Windows\System32\

Drivers’ in Windows Explorer and rename or delete the files ‘afs.sys’ and

‘afs2k.sys’. This problem is not as bad under Windows XP. Here, only a message

appears saying that the registry entries for the iTunes driver are missing and

hence CDs can neither be imported nor burned. Apple’s solution of simply

reinstalling iTunes, however, is too time consuming. A better way to tackle this is

through the Windows registry. Navigate to ‘HKEY_LO CAL_MACHINE | SYSTEM

| CurrentControl Set | Control | Class’. Then click the first folder that starts

with the combination “{4D36E965”. Here you will find entries for the burning

drivers concerned. Right-click on the menu, open “UpperFilters” and enter

“GEARA spiWDM’ here. iTunes will now again recognize its drivers when you

next restart the system.

Even XP can interfere with Windows Vista

XP and Vista can always share a computer, but not without resulting in

two major problems. On one hand, XP overwrites Vista’s system restore points

when it boots up. This can only be avoided if XP does not detect the Vista

partition. To do this, click ‘Start | Run…’ in XP and enter ‘regedit’. Go to ‘HKEY_

LOCAL_MACHINE | SYSTEM | Mounted Devices’. If this does not contain a

key called “Offline”, open the context menu in the right pane and create it by

clicking ‘New | Key’. Now navigate your way to the ‘Offline’ folder and create a

new entry with ‘New | DWORD value’. Name it ‘\DosDevices\D:’ where D is the

drive letter of your Vista partition under XP. You will be able to access it with

a double-click. Enter the value “1”. The Vista partition is blocked to XP after

restarting the computer, and its restore points remain untouched.

The second problem:Vista has a different way of writing partition limits

than XP. If you have both OSes installed, you should only use Vista for adjusting

partition sizes. If you repartition under XP, the drives created with Vista could

simply disappear. This is also applicable if you create new drives while installing

a second OS. For that and many other reasons, it is better to install Windows

XP before installing Vista. It is fairly easy to avoid software conflicts if you know what to watch out for and what to avoid. A few careful choices make all the difference


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    • Cleanclover profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Piece of land!

      Thank you Kimberly, Glad you liked it. Hope all is well with you and family :-))))

    • Kimberly Bunch profile image

      Kimberly Bunch 

      7 years ago from EAST WENATCHEE

      Great info! Thanks for sharing. It's very helpful.


    • Cleanclover profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Piece of land!

      You are welcome shawneepaints. yes optimum is best

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. It always helps to understand my computer better. Most people seem to feel more is better, which proves to not be the case.


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