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I like to keep a tidy start menu on my Windows XP machines. So I was surprised and annoyed when I tried to move root start menu folders for a couple of applications off into designated sub-folders. I'm sure they're not the only ones, but one is Symantec Endpoint Protection and another is the Cisco Systems VPN Client.

As soon as the folder move is complete, a Windows Installer dialog pops up and informs me that it is installing/configuring the product. By the time it's done, the folders are back in the root of my previously neat and tidy start menu.

How do I regain control of my start menu and prevent this from happening?

As an aside, what program is camping on my start menu folders and launching programs on my behalf? This is apparently somebody's idea of a good design. That's pretty remarkable.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Windows Installer dialog pops up and informs me that it is installing/configuring the product"

This is just the default behaviour of Windows Installer (Which is by default present in Windows & running in the background 'msiexec.exe'). Whenever it finds that the original files installed using it are modified, it starts up & re-installs the files. This is a useful feature present to reduce end users' intervention when something goes wrong with the installs.

The workaround is to press "cancel" whenever the installer starts up to repair the installation. Also in my case I just rename the products' installer present in (C:\Windows\Installer) so that the msiexec.exe will not modify the settings again (But its tedious & needs some manual searching for the installer).

So I suggest you go with Molly's suggestion or best leave the two out of place folders.

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Ganesh, I see the practical purpose of the feature but what i'd really like is to turn it off, and I don't mind getting my hands dirty. But I can't find the c:\windows\installer folder you're referring to, nor any similar folder (install/installer anywhere below c:\windows.) – Barry Fandango Sep 12 '09 at 16:28
C:\Windows\Installer is a system folder that you cannot see till you go to Control Panel -> Folder Options -> View ->Uncheck "Hide Operating System Files". Inside you will find a lot of folders (all with GUIDs as names & one of the will contain the installer for Symantec Endpoint Protection & another folder with Cisco Systems VPN Client Installer. Rename the installers. That will prevent the Window Installer from recreating the folders. But whenever you will need to upgrade these two softwares, remember to rename the installers back to original name. – Ganesh R. Sep 13 '09 at 7:04
Thanks, that was helpful. I was able to locate the symantec folder by some telltale icons, but couldn't determine which one represents the VPN client. Oh well! As a side node, the GUIDs for office products all end with "0FF1CE}"! That's not very random for a GUID. – Barry Fandango Sep 13 '09 at 14:42
Ganesh I'll accept your answer because it provided the most information... Unfortunately it looks like Windows Installer is going to enforce control (over files in my own user folder!) no matter what I do. Thanks! – Barry Fandango Sep 14 '09 at 14:24

I had the same problem, and I solved it by searching in the registry every occurrence of "Start Menu\Programs\Cisco Systems VPN Client" (which is the default folder created by the installer) and replacing it with "Start Menu\Programs\Net\VPN Client" (which is the folder I want them to be). Now everything works as I want it to.

Oh, incidentally: I also tried the "Windows\Installer" thing, but it won't work (VPN client will simply create ANOTHER installer with another random name, and will make its own folder in the start menu).

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I finally figured out a workaround to this. You can run an MSI file disabling this behavior using:

msiexec.exe <path to msi-file> DISABLEADVTSHORTCUTS=1


vpnclient_setup.exe DISABLEADVTSHORTCUTS=1

Alternatively it can be set permanently in the MSI file using Microsoft's Orca tool; this needs to be performed on each build update.

I copied the shortcuts prior to uninstalling/reinstalling with corrected MSI parameters - however you can achieve this by manually creating shortcuts to ipsecdialer.exe and SetMTU.exe respectively.

This problem has been bothering me as well for years and I finally sat down to work out a resolution. Hope it helps!

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I'm no longer in a position to check out this solution Sean, but thanks very much for sharing it! – Barry Fandango Sep 12 '14 at 17:26

I am using neither program, so I can't tell whether this is related only to these two.

As a workaround (not a solution!), use ViStart - the Vista Start Menu for XP. This replaces the XP start menu - you can move the folders around as you like without changing the original Windows XP start menu settings.


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Molly, I gave this a try and got the menu running - what a great program! I've been through the FAQ and the forums but can't find a way to alter the start menu folders/shortcuts. Am I missing something? – Barry Fandango Sep 12 '09 at 17:13
glad you like it :) i actually made a mistake and posted the wrong Start Menu replacement. THIS was the one i had in mind. really sorry: – Molly7244 Sep 12 '09 at 17:39
@Molly - update the link! – ChrisF Sep 13 '09 at 12:26
Hmm actually although ViStart doesn't do what I was asking, I like it way better than VistaStartMenu, which I think is bloaty and littered with freemium upgrade reminders. Thanks very much for the links though! – Barry Fandango Sep 14 '09 at 14:26

Changing registry values didn't help. Making copies of these always reappearing folders to the desired place and marked the originals "Hidden" seemed to work.

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