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How to Completely uninstall Symantec Norton SystemWorks, AntiVirus, or Personal Firewall and Reset your LiveUpdate Subscription

As you probably know by now, Symantec's uninstall procedure does not completely work. This does!. It has been tested time and time again. It has been successful every time - however, if you have any Norton 2004 or later products, be advised that Norton installs some little DRM (Digital Rights Management) stuff to your computer that uniquely identifies who you are to Symantec (you agreed to this breach of your privacy when you agreed to Symantec's EULA, didn't you?)

You first need to examine why you are uninstalling SystemWorks. If you are uninstalling it only because you wish to upgrade to a later version, then we recommend that you just stay with your present version.

It is very strongly recommended that you stay away from any Norton 2004 or later product. Simply put, post-2004 Norton products suck worse than Symantec's tech support!

While we're on the subject - Symantec does not provide  tech support for consumer products. It's outsourced to a division of Fujitsu Services, in a little town called Maarsen in the Netherlands. Now, if you've emailed Symantec customer service, have you noticed that they do not even come close to solving your problem? Or that they never, ever even attempt to work with you on a solution? Or that sometimes, they will email you a response that, after you read it, looks like it deliberately does not help you?


Look, the dirty secret is that Fujitsu Services does not get paid for solving problems - they are paid based upon the number of emails they send! So, what happens when they don't solve your problem? You email them back! And they send you another unhelpful email! And so, you email them again! And they send you another unhelpful email!


O.K., now back to our show...

In order to assure a stable and complete uninstall, you must uninstall all Norton products.

It is recommended that you print these instructions and then follow all steps. This might take you up to half an hour. It's important that you reboot only when instructed to do so.

Sometimes install/uninstall programs will prompt you to reboot before the program has finished doing it's business. If you are running any process monitoring program like Wintop or Sysinternal's excellent Process Explorer, watch and wait until you see the uninstall application end before rebooting. If you are not running any monitor programs, it's always a good and healthy policy to wait at least 15 seconds before reboting.

This procedure requires moderate computer knowledge, as well as knowledge of how to properly and safely run Window's REGEDIT.

  1. Boot up your computer. Run Norton Disk Doctor, then Norton WinDoctor.
  2. Download the removal utilities SYMCLN.EXE and RNAV2003.EXE from the Symantec website and save them to your desktop. If you can't find it on the Symantec website, browse around until you find them.
    Symantec does have a tool online to uninstall that works only with Internet Explorer. It's a little risky, but you can try that only if you can't find these removal utilities.
  3. This step will prepare your computer for uninstalling Symantec products.
    - Disable automatic LiveUpdate (if enabled)
    - Delete all files named  *.tmp in your Windows temporary directories
    - Empty your recycle bin.
    - Delete all Norton Protected files
    - Turn off Norton Protection on your recycle bin, and select a standard recycle bin icon.
    - Turn off any Norton startup utilities such as Registry Tracker, Disk Doctor, or System Doctor.
    - Turn off Norton antivirus email protection.
    Shut down your computer.
  4. The first thing you want to do is isolate your computer from any external influences. this includes the Internet, your network, and any external devices
    all USB connectors, printers, and anything connected to a serial or parallel port. This will prevent those drivers from interfering from the uninstall procedure.
    Remove all Ethernet connectors. This will prevent anything on your network from interfering with your computer.
    Remove all connections to the internet. This will not only keep any external internet activity from interfering with this procedure, it will prevent Symantec from possibly "phoning home" about the details of your careful uninstall procedure.
    If you have a laptop, remove all PCMCIA cards.
  5. Turn on your computer.
  6. If you have Norton Anti-Virus, disable auto-protect by right-clicking it's icon in the task bar & select "Disable Auto-Protect".
  7. If you do not have Norton Personal Firewall or Norton Internet Security, proceed to step 10.
  8. Disable Norton Personal Firewall (if you have it active) by right-clicking it's icon on the task bar & select disable.
  9. Go to Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and uninstall that Norton Personal Firewall or Norton Internet Security.
    If you are prompted to reboot your computer, wait at least 15 seconds before clicking "O.K.".
    If you are not prompted to reboot your computer, then wait 15 seconds and then reboot.
    After your computer is rebooted, disable Norton Anti-Virus again.
  10. Go to Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and select "Norton SystemWorks". Click the "Add/Remove" button.
    Make sure that all the check boxes are selected to uninstall all components.
    Follow the directions to uninstall all components.
    If you are prompted to reboot your computer wait at least 15 seconds before clicking "O.K.".
    If you are not prompted to reboot your computer, then wait 15 seconds and then reboot.
  11. Go to Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and uninstall LiveReg,
  12. Go to Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and uninstall LiveUpdate.
  13. Reboot, and then run SYMCLN.EXE that you had downloaded from Step 2.
  14. Run RNAV2003.EXE, which uninstalls Norton AntiVirus. You will need to select which version of Norton AntiVirus to uninstall.
    You will first uninstall your present version. Then run RNAV2003.EXE again and one by one select every other version of Norton AntiVirus, regardless of whether or not you had that version installed. I know, this contradicts Symantec's instructions, but this is safe to do and is part of resetting your LiveUpdate subscriptions.
    So, if you are uninstalling Norton AntiVirus 2003, run RNAV2003.EXE and uninstall version 2003. Then, run RNAV2003.EXE again and uninstall 2002, then 2001, then 2000.
  15. Search your computer for files and folders with the following names:
    Now, look at the search results. See all the crap that Symantec's poor uninstall procedures have left over? Select it all, then press SHIFT and then DELETE (this deletes these files without sending them to the trash bin)
  16. Run REGEDIT and search for any keys named Symantec. Delete those keys and all of the subkeys. WARNING - ONLY DO THIS IF YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH EDITING THE REGISTRY
  17. Reboot
  18. Check the original directory on your computer where you had your Norton products installed. Delete that directory and all the files within. Save nothing.
  19. Empty your trash bin
  20. Place your Norton SystemWorks CD into your CD-ROM drive.
  21. Run Norton Disk Doctor from the CD.
  22. Run Norton WinDoctor from the CD.
    You'll see lots of garbage in your registry that's left over from Symantec's poor uninstall procedure. Delete anything having to do with Symantec, including shortcuts.
  23. Run REGEDIT again and search for any keys named Symantec. Delete those keys and all of the subkeys.

At this point, if you are not planning on installing another Symantec product, you can shut down your computer and then reconnect everything you uninstalled in Step 4.

If you really want to install another product from Symantec, you can reboot your computer and then install your new Symantec products. Just remember to install them into a DIFFERENT DIRECTORY NAME than the files you just uninstalled.

William Giordano
Microsoft Certified Professional

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