Wise Packaging

Understanding Error 1603: Fatal Error During Installation 

10-15-2007 12:34 PM

This error message is displayed by the Microsoft Windows Installer engine and is a general error code that indicates a problem occurred during the installation.

Read on to learn how to sidestep this speed bump.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of known causes for this error:

  • Short file name creation is disabled on the target machine.
  • An Install Script custom action is prototyped incorrectly.
  • A file is locked and cannot be overwritten.
  • The Microsoft Windows Installer Service is not installed correctly.
  • The Windows Temp folders are full.
  • The setup was corrupted after installation and, therefore, fails with this error during un-installation.
  • An older version of Install Shield Developer is being used.
  • A general error occurred during the installation.
  • Print and File sharing is not installed or enabled when installing MSDE 2000.

How to Avoid this Error

The following solutions have resolved this error in the majority of cases:

  1. Make sure short file name creation is enabled on the target machine. You can check to ensure that the target machine does not have short file name creation disabled by navigating to the following registry entry:
    Make sure the value "NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation" is equal to 0. This indicates that short file name creation is enabled. A value of 1 indicates that this functionality is disabled. You should change the value to 0. After modifying this value, the target machine should be rebooted before attempting to launch the setup again.
    Note: If the target machine should normally have short file name creation disabled, it can be disabled after the install completes by resetting "NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation" to 1 and rebooting.
  2. To ensure that the Windows Installer Service is properly installed and configured, it is recommended that users install the file InstmsiA.exe on Windows 95/98/Me or InstmsiW.exe on Win NT systems. These files are shipped with your InstallShield product and are located in the following location:
    <Product Path>\Redist\Language Independent\i386
  3. Empty all temporary folders. The specific temporary folders for a machine can be determined by accessing the DOS prompt and typing set. Note the values listed for TEMP and TMP, and delete all files in those locations.
  4. Make sure no other applications, including utilities such as virus scanners, are running in the background. Close all running applications and utilities, and launch the installation again.
  5. If this error occurs during un-installation, use the Microsoft Windows Installer CleanUp utility to uninstall the installation.
  6. Once the installation has been successfully un-installed, you can then debug the project to determine what caused the original error.

Thanks to Puneet for sharing this information with me.

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10-14-2014 07:08 AM

Hi All,

I got the 1603 error on a client PC (Win8.1) while deploying "SEP 12.1.2015.2015 - English", through a remote push on SEP Manager.

Tryed some of the above suggestion that seemed to apply to my case but none solved my problem.

Any additional suggestion would be appreciated.


03-02-2014 02:26 PM

I followed the steps in the article but they didn't work.  However, I did find a solution.  Here it is:

After 2 days, I finally made Skype and Facebook VideoCall both work on my Windows8 Dell computer. 

So many things to try and I thought I had uninstalled McAfee software that was free with my computer many months ago.

But nooooo...it turns out you also have to go and get their special uninstall the rest of it tool! It's called the McAfee Consumer Products Removal Tool and I give their site link right here to make it easier than the Dumb as a Rock process I completed. Did I mention that it took 2 days to find this simple fix?

Thanks, Brellie Brellie for letting me practice with you and make sure everything worked!


02-26-2014 04:44 PM

oh, now I got 1602 error during install InRoads v8i in Win8.1 64bit.

What shod I do?


08-10-2012 02:35 AM

The information is old, but still useful.

Found three basic reasons of Error 1603 mentioned here...


11-21-2011 08:35 AM

Microsoft have withdrawn the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility and replaced it with a utility that usually fails to fix the problem.  The old utility can be downloaded here:


01-24-2008 02:23 PM

I tried to install SVS on a Vista Home Premium machine. But I am not able to get Error 1603 handled. I deactivated UAC and Anti-Virus-Software. My temp-folders are empty and the installer doesn't seem to have a problem. Though I am not able to install SVS. Perhaps you can have a look on the following lines from my verbose.log:
Action 20:23:41: WiseNextDlg.
Action start 20:23:41: WiseNextDlg.
MSI (c) (D8:F8) [20:23:41:685]: Cloaking enabled.
MSI (c) (D8:F8) [20:23:41:685]: Attempting to enable all disabled privileges before calling Install on Server
MSI (c) (D8:F8) [20:23:41:685]: Connected to service for CA interface.
Action ended 20:23:41: WiseNextDlg. Return value 3.
DEBUG: Error 2896: Executing action WiseNextDlg failed.
Internal Error 2896. WiseNextDlg
Action ended 20:23:41: Welcome_Dialog. Return value 3.
MSI (c) (D8:44) [20:23:41:794]: Doing action: Fatal_Error
Action 20:23:41: Fatal_Error.
Action start 20:23:41: Fatal_Error.
Action 20:23:41: Fatal_Error. Dialog created
Action ended 20:23:46: Fatal_Error. Return value 2.
Action ended 20:23:46: INSTALL. Return value 3.
MSI (c) (D8:44) [20:23:46:318]: Destroying RemoteAPI object.
MSI (c) (D8:F8) [20:23:46:334]: Custom Action Manager thread ending.
I hope you can help me, because I really like using svs on my home-pc.

12-05-2007 09:41 PM

As discussed, The 1603 error code is mostly returned when any action fails during an installation, and most commonly it indicates that one of the custom actions in the MSI failed.
When we encounter a failed setup with return code 1603, here are the steps that we should follow:
Re-run the setup with verbose logging enabled using steps similar to those that are listed here.
Step 1: Generate a verbose log file named msi*.log in the %temp% directory the next time the setup package is executed.
Step 2: Open the verbose log in a text editor such as notepad and search for the string "return value 3". In nearly all cases, this will take us to the section in the verbose log that lists the action that failed that initially caused setup to rollback.
Step 3: Review the contents of the log file immediately above the "return value 3" string to determine which custom action or standard action failed. Depending on which action is failing, We will need to proceed to more detailed debugging from here.
One can find that the biggest hurdle to debugging a failed setup is often zeroing in on which part of the setup is actually failing, and this trick of searching for "return value 3" ends up helping speed this process up in nearly all cases.
Of course, it does not work in 100% of scenarios. Notably, if you are running setup on a non-English version of Windows, the string "return value 3" is written to the log file in the language of the operating system instead of in English, so string searches will not work.
Aaron Stebner's WebLog

10-20-2007 03:48 AM

Thanks for this very useful KB link.. I reckon, many will find this utility a fruitful one.

10-19-2007 02:30 PM

I ran into a few of these while working on software packaging, the biggest headache is when a failed install doesn't clean itself up, as you pointed out in step #5 to use the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility.
Below is the Microsoft KB that describes the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility and provides a link to download it.

10-16-2007 06:10 AM

That's a nice info Gary.
This is very useful to use, when the application is deployed or undergoes Virtualization..

10-16-2007 12:33 AM

Just had one of these today when trying to install Adobe Reader on a client. Turns out his existing version was virtualized using SVS. The install completed successfully once his Reader layer was deactivated.

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