FIX: 1603: Fatal Error during installation in Windows 10

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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The Windows Installer installs and removes software with MSI package formats. However, Windows Installer doesn’t always install the software as required and might occasionally return an error message stating, “1603 Fatal error during installation.

So users can’t install or uninstall a program when that error message pops up. Here are a few fixes that will probably resolve the 1603 error.

We’ve written extensively about Windows Installer issues before. Bookmark this page in case you need it later.

How do I fix error code 1603?

  1. Close Background Software
  2. Check the Software Is not Already Installed
  3. Check That There’s Enough Hard Drive Space for the Program
  4. Open the Program Install and Uninstall Troubleshooter
  5. Erase Temporary Files From the Windows Temp Folder
  6. Restart the Windows Installer Service
  7. Edit the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation Registry Value
  8. Grant Full Control Permission to Installation Drive

1. Close Background apps

Background software can undermine Windows Installer when installing a program. As such, close most background software before installing the program.

Close all windows on the taskbar and third-party software icons on the notification area. You can also close further programs with Task Manager as follows.

  1. Press the Win key + X hotkey.
  2. Select Task Manager on the menu to open its window.task manager
  3. Click the Processes tab in the snapshot directly below.
  4. Close all software listed under apps by selecting the programs and pressing the End Task button.
  5. You can also close third-party program processes listed on the Processes tab.

2. Check the Software Is not Already Installed

If you’re getting the 1603 error for one specific program, it might be the case that software is already installed.

Check that you don’t already have an earlier version of the software. If so, uninstall the previous program version first.

  1. To remove a program, press the Win key + R keyboard shortcut to open Run.
  2. Enter ‘appwiz.cpl’ in Run’s text box.
  3. That opens the Programs and Features Control Panel tab where you can select a program to remove and then click Uninstall.uninstall a program
  4. A dialogue box will probably open asking if you’re sure about removing the software. Press the Yes button to confirm.uninstall a program
  5. Then try installing the required program again.

3. Check That There’s Enough Hard Drive Space for the Program

Also, note that there might not be enough available hard drive space for the software. You might need to free up some HDD space if the software requires more than one gigabyte of storage.

First, double-check the program‘s minimum HDD storage system requirement. Then check your hard drive has enough space for it as follows.

  1. Open File Explorer by pressing its button on the Windows 10 taskbar.
  2. Click This PC to open a list of folders and drives as in the snapshot directly below.file explorer
  3. Right-click your C: drive and click Properties to open the General tab shown directly below.system drive properties
  4. That tab shows you how much free space there is on the HDD. If there isn’t enough available space for the program, remove some third-party software or run a disk cleaner utility to free up hard drive storage.

4. Open the Program Install and Uninstall Troubleshooter

With the Program Install and Uninstall Troubleshooter for Windows 10, you can fix software installation errors. That isn’t a built-in troubleshooter, but you can add it to Windows from this website page.

Click the Download button on that page, and open the troubleshooter from the folder you saved it. Press the Next button to go through its troubleshooting steps.

Not a fan of Windows Troubleshooter? Choose one of these troubleshooting tools!

5. Erase Temporary Files From the Windows Temp Folder

The 1603 error can be due to an overly full Windows Temp folder, which includes temporary software files. Purging temporary files from the Temp folder might also help resolve the issue.

There are myriad third-party utilities you can erase temporary files with, but you can also delete junk files with the Windows Disk Clean-up tool as follows.

  1. Open the Cortana app by clicking its taskbar button.
  2. Enter ‘Disk Clean-up’ in Cortana’s search box, and select to open Disk Clean-up.
  3. Select the C: drive from the drop-down menu, and press the OK msiexec/unregister
  4. Disk Clean-up will then tell you how much hard drive space it can free up.disk cleanup system drive
  5. Temporary files and Temporary Internet Files are the two essential checkboxes to select here. However, you can also select to delete other file categories.
  6. Press the OK button, and then select the Delete Files option.

disk cleanup

Learn everything there is to know about deleting temporary files from our detailed guide!

6. Restart the Windows Installer Service

The Windows Installer service probably won’t be disabled. However, restarting and re-registering the Windows Installer could kick-start that service and fix the 1603 error.

This is how you can restart Windows Installer.

  1. Enter ‘services.msc’ in Run, and click the OK button.
  2. Scroll down to the listed Windows Installer
  3. Double-click Windows Installer to open the window in the screenshot directly installer service properties
  4. Press the Start button on the Windows Installer window. However, press the Stop button if the service is already running, and then click Start.
  5. Click the Apply and OK buttons.
  6. To re-register Windows Installer, open Run again.
  7. Enter ‘msiexec /unregister’ in Run’s text box, and press the OK msiexec/unregister
  8. Thereafter, enter ‘msiexec /regserver’ in Run to register the Windows Installer.

7. Edit the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation Registry Value

The 1603 error can occur if short file name creation is deactivated. As such, enabling short file name creation is another way to fix the 1603 error.

You can do that by editing its NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation value in the registry as follows.

  1. Enter ‘regedit’ in Run and click OK to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Next, browse to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\
    in the Registry Editor as below.NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation dword regedit
  3. Double-click the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation DWORD to open its Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value window below.NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation dword regedit value 0
  4. If the DWORD’s value is currently 1, replace its value by entering 0 in the text box.
  5. Press the OK button to close the Edit DWORD window.
  6. Close the Registry Editor, and then restart your desktop or laptop.

Can’t access Registry Editor? Things aren’t as scary as they seem. Check out this guide and solve the issue quickly.

8. Grant Full Control Permission to Installation Drive

Error 1603 can also occur if your SYSTEM account doesn’t have Full Control permission for the selected installation folder.

You can resolve this by adjusting the permissions for the drive you’re installing the software to. Follow the guidelines below to edit the SYSTEM permissions.

  1. Open File Explorer and click This PC.
  2. Then right-click the installation drive for the software, which would usually be C, and select Properties.
  3. Select the Security tab shown directly below.system drive security properties
  4. Click the Edit button to open the window directly below.permissions system properties
  5. Select SYSTEM and click the Allow checkbox for Full Control if that’s not currently selected. All the Allow checkboxes need to be selected for SYSTEM.permissions for system drive
  6. Click the Apply and OK buttons, and close the Permissions window.
  7. Press the Advanced button on the drive’s Properties window to open the window shown below.permissions for system drive administrator
  8. Select the Change Permissions option.
  9. Choose SYSTEM on the Permissions tab, and then click the Edit button to open the Permissions Entry window.full control permission for system drive administrator
  10. Select This folder, sub-folders, and files from the Applies to the drop-down menu.
  11. Press the OK button on the Permission Entry window.
  12. Click the OK buttons on all the other open windows.

Those are a few resolutions for error 1603 that might get your software installed as required. Aside from those fixes, Windows repair toolkits might also resolve the issue.

This software guide provides further details for Windows repair utilities that might come in handy for fixing error 1603.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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