Error 1603

Error 1603 is a general Microsoft error that occurs when a problem arises during the installation of software using the Microsoft Windows Installer engine. The exact error message is usually displayed as “Error 1603: A fatal error occurred during installation”.

Causes of Error 1603

Here are some of the reasons why there is an Error 1603:

  • a general error occurred upon installation;
  • a file is locked and cannot be overwritten;
  • short file name creation is disabled on the target machine;
  • an older version of Install Shield Developer is being utilized;
  • the Print and File sharing options are not enabled when installing MSDE 2000;
  • incorrect installation of the Microsoft Windows Installer Service;
  • an Install Script custom action is prototyped incorrectly;
  • full Windows Temp folders; or
  • the setup was corrupted after installation.

How to Avoid Error 1603

The following are solutions that will help you solve this error:

Make sure the Windows Installer Service is properly configured and installed. It is recommended that users install the file InstmsiW.exe on Windows NT or InstmsiA.exe on Windows 95/98/Me systems. These files are located in the following location: \Redist\Language Independent\i386

Ensure that short file name creation is allowed on the target machine. You can check this by navigating to the following registry entry: KEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem

You need to make sure that the “NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation” value is equal to 0. This would indicate that the short file name creation is enabled. When the value is 1, it would indicate that the functionality is disabled.

After you have modified the “NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation” value, the target machine should be rebooted before trying to initiate the setup again.

Ensure that no other applications are running in the background. These applications include utilities such as virus scanners. Launch the installation again after you have closed all running utilities and applications.

Empty all temporary folders. These temporary folders can be accessed through the DOS prompt and typing set. You have to delete all files located in TEMP and TMP.

You can debug the project once the installation has been successfully uninstalled to determine what caused the original error.

Specific Causes and How to Fix It

  • Windows Installer and Driver Substitute. There is a problem when installing software package using the Windows Installer to any drive that is substituted for another drive. You can solve this by doing any of the following:

a. Install the package into another non-substituted drive; or

b. Un-substitute the drive you are installing to, then try again. However, this operation can cause some software to stop working.

  • Windows Installer and Encryption folders. You can experience a problem in installing software packaged to any encrypted folder while using the Windows Installer. You can solve this by doing any of the following:

a. Install the software into a different folder with the encryption turned off; or

b. Remove the encryption and reinstall the software.

  • Windows Installer and the System account. The Windows Installer software uses the System account for the purpose of installing. This is why it is essential for the System account to have complete control of any folder. You can check this by doing the subsequent steps:

a. Double-click My Computer icon.

b. Right click the drive where you want to install the software.

c. Click Properties.

d. Select the Security tab on your computer.

e. For Windows XP, confirm that the Group or User Names box contains the System user account.

For Windows 2000, check if the Name box contains the System user account.

If the System user account is nowhere to be found, you have to add it by doing the following steps:

a. Click the Add button. This will cause the Select Users or Group dialog to appear

b. Click SYSTEM in the Name field.

c. Click Add.

d. Click OK.

e. In the Permissions section, check the Full Control checkbox under Allow.

f. Click on Advanced. This will cause a dialog box to appear.

g. Select the checkbox next to the System user account.

h. Click OK.

i. Make sure to click the Yes button if a security dialog box pops up.

Additional Reading on Error 1603