Fix: Fatal Error 1603 during installation in Windows 10

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
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  • You can get a fatal error 1603 during the installation of a software. This blocks the process.
  • The error code 1603 means that the program is already installed so you should check that out.
  • A solution for this issue is to close some of the processes in Windows 10.
  • Lack of disk space can cause this problem therefore check if you have enough free space.
How to fix Fatal Error during installation

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The Windows Installer installs and removes software with MSI package formats in Windows 10.

However, Windows Installer doesn’t always install the software as required and might occasionally return an error message stating error 1603, fatal error during installation.

So, users can’t install or uninstall a program when that error message pops up. Let’s quickly review some frequent issues reported by our readers, starting with the most general cases all the way to very specific situations.

Where can I find error code 1603 and what does it look like?

  • Error 1603 a general error occured during installation
  • Installation success or error status: 1603
  • Error 1603 fatal error during installation Windows 10, 11, 7
  • Errorcode 1603(0x643) software center
  • MSI error 1603 (MSI error 1603 during uninstall or simply uninstall error 1603)
  • Microsoft Installer error 1603 (error 1603, fatal error during installation consult Windows Installer help)
  • Mainenginethread is returning 1603
  • VPNs (Radmin VPN error code 1603, NordVPN tap/tun failed code 1603)
  • Microsoft installer error 1603 Turbotax (Updating the software can help solve the Turbotax error 1603).
  • Error 1603 during installation of Autodesk software
  • Error 1603 while installing Java (The Java error 1603 appears when installing Java updates in Windows 10).
  • 1603 fatal error during installation Google Drive
  • 1603 (0x643) fatal error during installation SCCM
  • Error 1603 fatal error during installation Alienware

Here are a few fixes that will probably resolve the 1603 error.

How do I fix error code 1603?

  1. Close the background software
  2. Check if 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 the background software

  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 above.
  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.

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 above.

2. Check if the software is not already installed

  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.

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.

Sometimes, when you use regular procedures like the one above, the program doesn’t get installed completely. It leaves some files behind that prevent you from installing it again.

Don’t worry because you can use dedicated software that makes sure to uninstall a program completely, without leaving a trace behind.

Uninstaller software can find any leftover files related to the app you want to remove and delete them. On top of that, if you have issues with malicious apps that won’t uninstall from Windows Settings, you can use the force uninstall feature which you can find in pretty much any worthy uninstaller.

3. Check if there’s enough hard drive space for the program

  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.

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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 shown above.

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 Microsoft 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.

5. Erase temporary files from the Windows Temp folder

  1. Open the Windows search by pressing the Windows key + S.
  2. Enter Disk Clean-up and select to open it from the results.
  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

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 Cleanup tool as described above.

6. Restart the Windows Installer service

  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.

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.

7. Edit the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation registry value

  1. Enter regedit in Run and click OK to open the Registry Editor.
  2. Next, browse to the following path in the Registry Editor: ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINEMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlFileSystemNtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation 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.

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 shown in the steps above.

8. Grant Full Control Permission to Installation Drive

  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.

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 above to edit the SYSTEM permissions.

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.

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