How to Fix Setup.Exe Errors

by Lita McLeary

Many applications and games that you find in installation discs and on the web need to be installed by running the setup file (usually called "setup.exe"). These executable files are designed to make the installation smooth and simple so that you only need to follow the wizard setting and any installation options. One major problem that can prevent you from successfully installing a program is when an unknown error dialog appears. Although the cause of the error can vary depending on the installer, it's easy to check the common culprits.

Step 1

Try to use the installer on another Windows system to see if the error is also present. If there is an error, most likely the CD is damaged or, if you downloaded the software, likely the setup file is corrupted. Obtain a new copy of the installer by downloading it from an official source. Even if you downloaded it before, there is a chance that the download finished prematurely resulting in a corrupted file.

Step 2

If the installer runs fine on another system, the problem may be on your system. Perform a disk cleanup on your system by going to the "Start" menu, clicking "Run" and typing "cleanmgr.exe." Choose "Drive C:" for cleanup, and check the box to clear temporary files. Restart your computer and try to run the installer again.

Step 3

If the installer uses the Windows Installer engine, the engine may be corrupted or outdated. Obtain the latest Windows Installer.

If there are still problems, download a registry cleaner such as RegCure or Registry Mechanic and scan your computer for registry errors by following the interface after you install the application. Restart your computer after the registry scan is complete and test the installer to see if the error happens again.


  • RegCure and Registry Mechanic are both commercial software, but trial versions are available (See "Resources"). It is best to try the free versions first and see if the registry scans really fix your problem before buying a full version.


  • Disable your virus scanner and firewall if the setup.exe still doesn't work. This can usually be done by checking the system tray on the bottom right and exiting any of the icons via a right-click menu.
  • If you are already using the latest Windows Installer, click "Start" then "Run" and type "msiexec /unreg." Open the "Run" dialog again and type "msiexec /regserver."


About the Author

Lita McLeary started writing professionally for the "Philippine Inquirer" in 1989, a daily national newspaper. She has written for private online clients for over seven years. At present, she writes full-time for various websites. McLeary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts from the University of the Philippines.

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