1. Assuming that you are on Windows, remember that you may have to reboot your system after making changes to any .config or .ini files.
2. Under the toplevel xampp dir you should find a "* portcheck.exe" file. Click on that file to get a listing of ports & their assignments. That should tell you what application is currently bound to which port. Do you have any add-ons, like Tomcat or the infamous Skype or Wordpress? If so, to which ports are they bound?
3. If you installed and then uninstalled, you may not have done so completely or cleanly, as mentioned above. When I had a similar problem, I had to manually delete xampp path entries from Windows registry and reboot. I then re-installed a fresh copy of xampp. I used the installer version the second time and had no problems. On the subject of rebooting, do a hard reboot. In general, once you have something installed and working, don't (practice) uninstalling and reinstalling. Unpredictable outcomes occur on Windows.
4. Regarding the firewall, you don't have to turn it off on Windows; you might be able to just lower the level of security from high to low on your personal account. If you are able to download and install xampp then probably this is not the problem.
5. If you uninstall parts of xampp, and then re-install those parts in a location other then where they were originally, check path entries in the Environment Variables AND in your Registry to be sure that all path entries are correct and correctly updated.
6. Search apache_friends_forum archive files for possible solutions to the same problem that you are having. Good suggestions have been given, in the past, to the type of problems both of you describe. Enter keywords "like port 80, port 8080 httpd.config . . ." etc.
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