MSI Fatal Error - Error 1603


A fatal error occurred in Microsoft Installer.

Possible Causes

A file that was needed for a successful installation was not found or was inaccessible.

Error 1603 is a catch-all error used by Microsoft Installer when an unexpected failure is encountered during an installation. Quite often this occurs when a file that is needed for an installation is not found (perhaps it was deleted by an antivirus solution or it can't be accessed on a network share)

Target computer may need to reboot after applying Windows updates. In these cases Windows may not allow additional MSI installations until the target has rebooted.

Recommended Fixes

  • Verify that any Antivirus software isn't deleting the installation files as they are being copied to the %WINDIR%\PDQDeployRunner directory. This is the working directory that PDQ Deploy uses to stage and then execute the installation).
  • If multiple files are needed for Installation (i.e. there are other files needed beyond the main installation exe or msi file) verify that your PDQ Deploy Package has the additional files either specified (using the Add Files drop down) or the option Include Entire Directory is checked. A tell-tale sign that this is your issue would be if the deployment is failing on all of your target computers. If the deployment is only failing on a few targets then the 1603 is being caused by another issue. (see image below)



  • Try uninstalling a previous version of the application. It is possible that there is a corrupt installation on the target which is causing the 1603 error.
  • Try running installation manually on the target computer. Doing this will often help isolate the cause of the 1603 error. For example:
    1. Copy over the installation file(s) or directory to a target throwing the error.
    2. Login to the same target using the Deploy User credentials or Scan User credentials if you are using that option.
    3. Open an elevated command prompt and navigate to where you saved the file(s) or directory in step 1.
    4. In the command prompt, run the command from the Command Line section of the Install Step.
    5. Check for errors, including in Event Viewer, and note any dialog boxes or other indicators of the referenced file. This should point you to the file that is causing the error.
  • If this error occurs while deploying Adobe Flash then chances are that there is a "partial" Flash installation. This is usually one or more registry keys that didn't get deleted when Flash attempted to upgrade.
  • If this error occurs while deploy Java then chances are that there is a "partial" Java installation. Deploy the "Uninstall Java (JRE) 7 Update ..." package from the Package Library.
  • From user,Shawn Sheikhzadeh, "This error may come up if there are pending .NET or XML Windows Updates to be installed. It's come up constantly in my environment when trying to push ShoreTel Communicator to a new machine that is in the process of installing updates, or hasn't updated itself to the most recent version of .NET."
  • Enable MSI logging or run the installer manually to see if more information is available about the cause.
  • In the case of Adobe Acrobat Standard, one customer, David G, found a solution to the 1603 error by running the removing the ALLUSERS=1 Command Line (using the Custom command line) in the Install Step and adding the Transforms=TransformFile.mst (which can also be added to the Paramters section). For example:

See Also

AppDeploy - Microsoft Installer Error 1603

Windows Installer Error 1603: Behind The Rage

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