How I Installed Adobe CS4, an Ordeal

Note added on 12/15/2009. See my last post about Adobe Air application installation solution.

Note added on 1/18/2009. I wonder if Adobe Installer sets up a MiniSQL to facilitate copy protection and module integration. If it does, could that clash with MS-SQL? I believe Adobe uses Bonjour, and possibly a proxy service. There is also the FNPLicensingService.exe without which Adobe products do not run. I wish Adobe, or someone who knows the innards of the OS could say something about this problem.

In the previous post, I explained the process but it probably got mixed too much with editorial comments I was compelled to make. Here, I will address just the installation problems and what made it possible for me to install CS4. Now, I am not saying that it will work for you. What I want to share with you are two things. First, Adobe tech support is not giving the best advice or trouble shooting and you should not blindly follow them. Second, the solution may lie in unexpected places and perseverance.

I am outlining what I did, follow my steps at your own risk.

My install attempts of Adobe CS4 Design Premium resulted in failure and my computer rebooting unceremoniously. A call to Adobe support suggested that my DVD player might be at fault and that I should copy the Adobe CS4 directories to my desktop. If I were to follow this process, I am not sure if it is really necessary or not, I would have done the following instead of following the blind recommendation by the support person. This is what they should recommend.

  1. Copy the Adobe CS4 directory from the first DVD to the root of drive C (C:)
  2. Rename that directory to something else, like Adobe CS4-1
  3. Copy the Adobe CS4 directory from the second DVD to the root of drive C (C:)
  4. Do not rename this directory

When, and if the installation goes successfully and the first DVD is finished (the first directory in C:) the installer can now find the “second DVD” in the second directory of install files (still named Adobe CS4 as it was on the DVD). Not time to start the installation yet.

Then, I went to Control Panel/Add, Remove Programs and uninstalled anything I saw that said CS4. I included in that process Adobe Air which does not have the CS4 designation. I also uninstalled, most likely quite unnecessary, Adobe Flash plugin, Adobe Flash Active-X, Shockwave Player; but did not uninstall any part of Adobe CS3 components.

While still in the Add, Remove Programs, I clicked on the “Add remove Windows Components” on the left and deselected IIS and uninstalled that component. Back in the add-remove panel, I also uninstalled MS SQL engine that I ran in conjunction with the IIS to test some ColdFusion code. My suspect applications were removed.

I found and downloaded Adobe CS4 Clean Script and extracted the contents to a directory. The readme file there instructed me to download and install Microsoft Windows Install Clean Up utility. I obliged. I ran the Adobe script and followed the instructions. It showed no CS4 products to be cleaned, consequently did not do anything. I did not trust that and ran the Windows Install Clean up utility and saw entries that clearly belonged to Adobe CS4. I carefully selected them and removed their traces (“CAREFUL” is the operative word here as removal of a legitimate entry here may render that application inoperative.)

I was now ready to make another attempt to install CS4. I started from the first directory on my desktop. I should have been told to do what I explained earlier and put these directories in my C: drive. I kept taking notes of what was being installed in case I had to call the tech support again. Luckily, my process worked, except for the glitch of not finding the second DVD. I was able to recover from that and complete the installation.

What are the lessons for me and for others here, including Adobe, most importantly for Adobe people?

  1. When a perfectly functioning computer with dozens of applications suddenly starts restarting itself while running the Adobe installer, Adobe should not, nay, MUST not keep pointing at others for the source of the problem. It is that application that triggers the failure, just like the hand that pulls the trigger of a gun. Just as the hand pulling the trigger cannot blame the bullet for injuring someone, Adobe has no reasonable stand to argue that another application is causing the failure while their application is running. Stop that nonsense.
  2. The support procedures should not be so draconian, asking for the same information with so much detail three times during the same call is not reasonable at all. Record it somewhere, as they must be doing and move on. We have no reason to make “SPAM support calls”.
  3. The support personnel must speak better English if the call originates in this country and the support number is also in this country.
  4. Tech support people must not assume that I am an idiot (I happen to have two advanced degrees, one being a PhD.) and seek the most convenient way for themselves whether that is necessary or not. Even then, the person who asked me to uninstall all Adobe products including the entire CS3 did not know whether that would work or not. But he was sure that that was the only way to install CS4! Does that make sense? He told me that if that did not work they would escalate my call. Why are you willing to make me go through that process knowing that it would do some harm to my work without being sure that it would work? Why are you not escalating my problem to someone who apparently knows more that you? Why, Adobe, you do not have more people like those who would handle my “escalated call”?
  5. Users, like myself, should not blindly follow the steps recommended by the support personnel. Think if what they recommend makes sense? The DVD not keeping up with the installation did not make much sense to me and I told the guy the same. But, since the cost was only time I followed the suggestion. In the end, it probably did not make any difference at all.
  6. Take the least destructive path at first. I have read horror stories of people formatting their entire hard disks and installing the OS from scratch to install an Adobe product. Totally unacceptable and absolutely unconscionable to make people to do that instead of fixing your own software. If you want to have new flooring installed in your house, will you agree to have the house rebuilt? Of course not. Why should you agree to reinstall the OS on a blank drive. This is definitely and Adobe problem, and software makers like them.
  7. I was ready to return the product if my last attempt did not succeed. I could have lived with CS3, I still can. Nothing is indispensable when it comes to software like this. We are buying a little more convenience, a couple of novel features, and a sense of renewal with most of these updates and upgrades. If CS4 were not available now, nobody would go out of business, photographers would not stop shooting and printing, designers would not return to their drafting tables. Let’s be sensible.
  8. Talking down to users in the forum in a patronizing tone is not a form of support. Adobe, you need to instruct these people, no matter how high their internal stature may be, to communicate with people not to lecture them and deny every culpability in the problems thousands of people seem to be having. Simply acknowledging that “you are having problems but they are caused by no line of code that we put down” is simply not reasonable. Be reasonable.

Repeat after me: “It’s just a piece of software, I can live without it. It’s just a piece of software ….”


  1. Bruce says


    I just wanted to let you know I tried what you recommended but it didn’t fix the fault… After much research and hard ache I posted to a few forums and someone suggested that another program was using IE in the back ground. He suggested check in the start up folders and delete anything not related to Win XP Pro starting up. I did that but wasn’t totally sure which programs should be there and which belonged to third party programs!! I had to search the internet to see what programs to keep but that was a long winded event. After many hours of reading I discovered that the ‘MSCONFIG’ command has many valuable system controls…

    One of them is to be able to control what programs load up on start up… At last a fix!!… One of the options of the control panels is called ‘general’. I first clicked the check box for the Diagnostic Startup which only loads windows basic devices and services..But after rebooting and trying to load Adobe CS4 it came up with different error messages this time…So I thought maybe windows didn’t load enough services for the program to install correctly. OK this is getting too long, here is the fix!!

    Go to your START button and select RUN..Type in MSCONFIG and enter.
    Select ‘Selective startup’

    Checked Process System.ini file
    Checked Process Win.ini file
    UNCHECKED Load StartUp items
    Checked Use diagnostic boot.ini

    Click APPLY changes and reboot.

    Thats it!!
    I tried again to install CS4 and did it no problems at all!!! Beautiful.

    I think I spent nearly 20 Hrs working all that out, so I hope it works for anybody else struggling with this install.


  2. acekin says

    Bruce, I am glad that you managed to install CS4. Of course, the real question is, or questions are:

    Why CS4 installer is bothered by Internet Explorer or Firefox running?
    Why can it not behave like other software installers?
    Why does Adobe keep denying that it is their problem?

    Total nonsense.

  3. acekin says

    That’s probably what it is. Truth be told, I am not sure if the browser needs to be closed to install the addon/plugin. It is a matter of copying some files into a directory. They may not be active until the browser is restarted, but that’s a different story. I am curious about this now.

    Yes Vinnie, I am a professor at Providence College. Small world, you are “around the corner” from me.

  4. acekin says

    Steve, I am glad that you were able to install the software. There are many, many people having the same kind of installer difficulty with the same nonsense advice from Adobe. I had to download and install the most recent drivers for my video card, nothing super really. That made it work with smooth zooming using Open GL.

    I added memory a while ago to bring it up to 4gb. I have two posts on that too, you may want to read them. On my computer 4 sticks of 1GB memory did not perform well. Luckily, Corsair Memory swapped 4 sticks of 1GB with 2 sticks of 2GB memory and everything is fine now. Check NewEgg for memory prices, I like that store a lot.


  5. Steve Serpa says

    Hi Cemal,

    I did not know there was some much trouble installing CS4 till Ted mentioned something about it. Anyway, I installed Master Suite CS4 on Vista Ultimate 64 bit OS and on first attempt I received an error message on the display adapter not being up to snuff. So I purchased a clearance PCI express video card with 512 MB of video RAM and tried again. This time I got a not enough Memory message so I pulled another Gig out of another machine installed it and ran the CS4 installer from beginning to end without a hitch. I want to add still more memory but I need to find a better price because Staples is still way to high on this product as well as many others. It cost $90 bucks for a gig but you can get 2GB of DDR2 for the same price. So there’s got to be some respectable dealer out with a better price for DDR. Staples has a real bad habit on putting a higher price on older memory when new stuff comes out the same exact thing happened with PC 100 on up. So shop around just done go into Staples to purchase something you may be surprised how much you can save.

    That’s my story.


  6. Steve Serpa says

    Good morning Cemal,

    That’s some real helpful feedback on the memory issue. I will read your memory post later on today.

    With that said, I never shopped the NewEgg store or used Corsair memory. New Egg and Corsair memory will be the first choice on my list when I go shopping for upgrades.

    Thanks in advance.


  7. says

    Hi Cemal… thanks for all the documentation. I’m at my wits end with all this. I’ve gotten no help on the forums and Adobe tech support seems to be quite worthless. My CS4 Design Premium (Vista Biz 32 bit) install is not hanging as in your case. It installs fine except that Flash won’t work. It hangs while opening at the building workspace point. Adobe’s brilliant suggestion was to reduce my fonts to 200! No one on the boards has limited their fonts and they all can use their Flash. But I did this temporarily to no avail. I’ve followed all the suggestions about removing using the Windows Install Clean up and the CS4 Cleanup. Reinstalled more than once with nothing running. STILL cannot get Flash to work. My system is dual core 2.66 gh with 512 dedicated vid ram and total 2 gig. This was not an upgrade but a new install. I do have CS3 installed. Adobe has be ZERO help. Their next step is to reformat my hard drive and/or reinstall Windows!

    I’m posting here with the hopes of some assistance. Thanks in advance!

    Sheila in Seattle

  8. says

    Thanks for the speedy response. I just ran a check and have the latest drivers for my video card. I found the Flash CS4 folder in my user apps and removed it. Then I optimistically launched Flash. It crashed at the same point. But what’s interesting is that the Adobe folder there has all kinds of stuff from my initial install a month ago even though I’ve used all the official uninstalls. I wonder if I should remove everything in that folder. I’m assuming they’d all be recreated. Maybe one of them is the culprit? Next time I have a big chunk of time I’ll try tech support again. I was going to do that over the weekend but it turns out they’re CLOSED on the weekend…a bit surprising to me.

  9. acekin says

    When you call Adobe support, you may ask them which directories may be deleted safely and whether they may fix the problem. I still cannot believe they make people format their computers because their installation has flaws in it. I wonder how they may feel if they visit their doctor for an ingrown toenail and the doctor orders a colonoscopy, preceded by total internal cleansing!

  10. says

    Hi Cemal,

    I’ve tried all that you recommended and for some weird reason it fails again. The error message, just after the system check is saying that I need to close Internet Explorer in the order to get the installation done.

    Funny thing is, I don’t even have IE opened, matter affect I am using FF3 and IE7 is there just because my wife is using it. None of the programs, nor opened windows are active during the installation.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  11. acekin says

    Emil, Have you checked whether you have the Internet Information Services (IIS) running? That’s something I removed along with the MS SQL server. You may consider deselecting in the installation set Flash and Adobe Media Player. I wonder if the installation may go through if it does not have to install the plugins for the browsers. Another idea may be to turn off most of the running services on your computer, except FlexNet of course. If you do not feel comfortable playing with the services, you may seek help from a friend who knows how to handle them. I hesitate to give steps to do this, I fear I may leave a critical step and cause you grief.

    Adobe, when will you fix these problems?

  12. Packman says

    Just wanted to express my gratitude. I had a friend who had bought CS4 and ran into these very problems. I tried a few other things (installing in safe mode and from the Administrator login, namely) before using your solution. I could not get the Adobe cleaning script to run, but I did uninstall everything Adobe before I ran the CS4 install successfully. I did suspect that the subject’s dvd-rom drive was on the fritz, as I couldn’t get the dvd’s to copy to the drive at first. That DID work in safe mode.
    Anyway, thanks to your clear instructions I got it running.

    Best of luck,


    • A. Cemal Ekin says

      I am very glad that it worked for you and very surprised that this problem still continues. By this time, with this much input I would have expected Adobe to resolve this issue once and for all.

  13. Ole Lund Andersen says

    Thanks for this site – helped me install CS4, which continuously installed with errors.
    I don’t know if it was Cemal or Bruces approach that did it, I tried them both in one go and CS4 finally installed – tried Adobe Support Advisor and it seems that ASA keeps coming up with the same old advice: “Cut all color profiles from win to hdd and change settings i Registry base” both of them useless – so it doesn’t seem like Adobe wants to listen…?


  14. acekin says

    Hello Sheila,

    Have you upgraded the video driver to the latest version. That is one problem that caused my Photoshop CS4 to hang when I enabled Open GL rendering for smooth zooming. Installing the latest video driver fixed that problem. Another place where you may consider looking is the application directory under your user account name. There may be a settings file that is corrupt. Just rename that directory that handles Adobe Flash while Flash is not running. Upon starting it will most likely recreated that directory and its contents, hopefully in working order.

    I am not knowledgeable in Flash and cannot offer more useful help, but any support person who recommends reformatting a customer’s hard disk should be committed to an institution. That is total nonsense and utterly inexcusable.

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