How to get rid of Msiexec.exe access is denied error?

By ivan.diskin | March 23, 2020 |

greater than 10 minutes

If you’ve been installing applications and programs on Windows 10 smoothly, you have the executable named Msiexec.exe to thank for that. This process, also known as the Windows Installer, is responsible for interpreting application packages and installing them.

Msiexec.exe is as safe as a Windows system file can be. It is part of the Windows Installer Component. Its main remit is to install packages that use the MSI (Microsoft Software Installer) file extension. Undoubtedly, without Msiexec.exe, most of the installing and uninstalling cannot be done.

Because of how critical it is, issues with Msiexec.exe are not to be trifled with or dismissed as simple bugs. Lately, some types of malware have been known to use the name “Msiexec.exe” to pass themselves off as the genuine thing. Affected systems are rendered vulnerable through the activities of these harmful items. Meanwhile, the function of the genuine process is affected as well.

For viruses and other forms of malware, you can simply use a recommended security software tool like Auslogics Anti-Malware. That should wipe away all traces of infection and free the real Windows Installer to continue doing its job.

But what if the issue with Msiexec.exe is not malware but rather a runtime error? Many users on Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 have been grumbling about the “Msiexec.exe Access is Denied” error. In this guide, we will explain what the error is and why it occurs. We will also offer solutions that will make the bug disappear from your machine so you can get back to installing and removing programs in peace.

What Is the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” Error?

When the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” error shows up, installing applications, especially those with the MSI extension, becomes herculean, if not outright impossible. No matter how many times the installer package is launched or the install wizard runs, everything comes to an abrupt halt with that message saying that access to Msiexec.exe is denied.

Fine, this doesn’t mean you cannot install any kind of program or application whatsoever. That is simply not true. Because not every kind of program installation package uses the MSI format, there is still hope. In fact, there are a multitude of programs that don’t need Windows Installer for installation. Other methods of installing programs are Inno Setup, InstallShield and Null Scriptable Install System (NSIS).

This means that you can still reasonably stock your computer’s desktop with programs and applications and even games — especially games — if Msiexec.exe is misbehaving.

But what about those programs that do use the MSI format? Because Windows Installer software components are already integrated with the OS, installation using MSI packages is very easy and not at all complicated when compared to the alternatives. Also, Microsoft understandably uses MSI packages for its products, such as Microsoft Office, Skype and the rest. Obviously, most users would have need of one, some or all of the Microsoft products. The problem is, the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” error prevents the system from installing these products.

What Is Causing the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” Error?

One of the great ironies of life is that the best things are often toppled by the tiniest errors. There is no doubt that Windows 10 is the apex of computer operating systems. However, so many errors and bugs happen on a regular basis, caused by so many different things. On the plus side, they keep software engineers in their jobs.

With respect to the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” error, there is no need to beat about the bush or go reading some technical documentation. The fault for the error mostly lies in the presumed corruption of the Windows Installer files. Msiexec.exe itself is one of these files. Imagine a corrupt Msiexec.exe process trying to install or uninstall a package. The results won’t be pretty.

But it is not the only file. Basically, every Windows service or process has at least one dependency. A dependency is another service or process that aids the first one in performing its function. Without its dependency, a Windows component may not work as well as it ought. It may not work at all.

So, when Msiexec.exe, one of its dependencies, or the other Windows Installer files are corrupt, you’re likely to get the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” error whether you like it or not. And, no, restarting the machine or explorer.exe won’t help you this time. You must solve the underlying issue first.

Also, some of those larger programs that use Windows Installer might have a hand in the error. A program like Microsoft Office, for example. If you happen to uninstall Office, the installer files might get damaged. It is also possible that some of them get deleted along with the program files, which, you’d agree, won’t bode well for future installations.

Finally, and somewhat related to the previous paragraph, the Msiexec.exe error might be caused by a registry issue. When programs are installed on a PC, settings and other things related to them are written into the registry. The opposite happens when they are uninstalled. Not only are the physical files and folders and shortcuts removed from the machine, but registry keys related to these programs are deleted as well. The problem occurs when some of these programs leave registry keys behind. These keys are left there without being attached to any program still existing on the machine. They can cause Msiexec.exe to stop working in the process of trying to remove them or cause it to develop faults.

How to Fix the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” Error in Windows 10

Regardless of what causes the Msiexec.exe error, finding a solution is of utmost importance. Users still have to install programs using the MSI format at some point. Moreover, the OS itself uses the installer to automatically install certain things. In other words, you’re reading this because you need a way to make the Windows Installer work again.

In that case, don’t despair. We’ve gathered these solutions that have been proven effective by those who have already tried them. Basically, since the error revolves around the Windows Installer, you must troubleshoot that component in several ways until it starts working again. There is also a method to deal with any registry issues that might be preventing the installer from doing its work.

Fix 1: Resolve All Registry Errors with Auslogics Registry Cleaner

When the registry is corrupt, there is pretty little that other solutions can do. Because, ultimately, only a clean registry will allow the OS to function optimally. Therefore, with unneeded registry keys lying around, there is no guarantee Msiexec.exe will work again after applying the other fixes.

The first thing you need to do, then, is ensure your registry is spick and span. Sure, you can dive in there yourself and try to find out which keys have actually been causing trouble. However, chances are you’d be out of there fast enough. The registry is a messy place and better left alone. It is a dangerous place as well. The more the uninitiated user spends in there, fiddling with settings, the likelier the chance of messing with something and nuking the entire system as a result.

Fine, nuking is a tad hyperbolic; but you get the point. It is better to leave the thing to something that knows automatically what to do in there — namely, a program that cleans the registry. This is where Auslogics Registry Cleaner comes in.

As far as cleaning tools go, Auslogics Registry Cleaner is ahead of the curve. There is a reason the famously high-nosed guys at Microsoft gave it their stamp of approval. Auslogics Registry Cleaner will clean, repair and optimize your Windows registry, restoring smooth and stable operation. Glitches, crashes and runtime errors like the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” error will become things of the past.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Try it out yourself through this link and experience the joys of enhanced stability and performance.

Fix 2: Reregister the Windows Installer with the Registry

This method will solve Msiexec.exe issues caused by a problem with the registration of the Windows Installer. It is also a working solution for instances where the installer isn’t working because of a snag that makes its registry keys unresponsive to user-level commands.

What you’re going to do now involves changing the Windows registry. As long as you remember the warning about the perils of tampering with the wrong registry settings, you should be fine.

First of all, you need to verify the location of Msiexec.exe on your system. This address will be needed later when modifying the registry. Plus, doing this enables you to verify that the Msiexec.exe file is, in fact, the genuine thing.

The default location of the Msiexec.exe file is C:/Windows/System32. You can either open File Explorer and navigate to this location manually, open the Run box and type “windir%\system32” (without quotes) to quickly open the folder, or find the Msiexec.exe process in your file manager, right-click it and select Open File Location.

If the location is correct, you can go ahead. If not, you’re dealing with a virus and should take the necessary steps to remove it.

Keep in mind that the path for Msiexec.exe in Windows 10 is c:\Windows\system32\Msiexec.exe. Now, open the Registry Editor. Bring up the Run box with Win Key+R, type “regedit” (without quotes) and click the OK button. Next, navigate to the location below or paste it into the search bar at the top to quickly jump into the folder:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Services > MSIServer

You should find the ImagePath entry in the right pane. Right-click it and select the Modify option. Next, you have to paste the path of the Msiexec.exe file into the box and add “/V” at the end of the string. Like this:

C:\Windows\system32\Msiexec.exe /V

The next step is to close the Registry Editor and boot the computer into Safe Mode. That done, open the Run box once more, type “msiexec /reserver” (without quotes) and click OK. If you’re using a 64-bit version of Windows 10, open the Run box and type “windir%\Syswow64\Msiexec /regserver” (again, without quotes) and click OK again.

That is all. The Windows Installer issue should be solved. You can test this by uninstalling a program via Programs and Features. If it works, your issue has been solved.

Fix 3: Reinstall the Windows Installer

If the Msiexec.exe file is corrupt, it obviously won’t work. There are several ways to get around this problem. All of them involve getting a fresh and uncorrupted copy of the file in some way.

This is a good time to say you shouldn’t try to download another copy of Msiexec.exe from a third-party website. Apart from being an easy way to infect your system with malware, system files aren’t designed to be independently replaced. You have to get your system file back legitimately. You can do this by repairing the file or by reinstalling Windows.

You can always install, refresh or even downgrade Windows if you have to. You can do a System Restore as well to bring Windows back to a state before the Msiexec.exe issue started happening. However, these seem like a lot of work just to solve an issue related to a single file. Moreover, you might not have the time, patience, or a restore point to go back to.

Running a scan with DISM and SFC is your next best bet. Both tools are designed to repair corrupt system installations and replace missing, broken or infected files with genuine working copies. More to the point, they are both Microsoft tools and use approved methods to replenish missing and corrupt files.

  • First, the DISM scan. Open an elevated Command Prompt window through whichever means you choose. Our favourite is to press the Windows key and X at the same time and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the Windows Tools menu.
  • Next, run the following command in the CMD window:
    DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

Wait for several minutes for the Disk Image Servicing and Management tool to finish its work. Hopefully, it won’t return any errors.

  • Next, it is time to do the System File Checker scan, which Microsoft says will “replace corrupted files with a cached copy that is located in a compressed folder at %WinDir%\System32\dllcache.”
  • In the same elevated CMD window, run the following command:
    sfc /scannow

Wait patiently for the verification to be 100 percent complete. It can take anything from a few minutes to an hour depending on the speed of your computer’s processor and size of its memory.

When the scan is finished, you’re going to receive one of the following error messages:

  • Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations.
  • Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation.
  • Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them. Details are included in the CBS.Log %WinDir%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log.
  • Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them. Details are included in the CBS.Log %WinDir%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log.

The third message is the one you want. It means the process has succeeded in finding and fixing corrupted files; hopefully, inclusive of Msiexec.exe. The first message means the issue isn’t due to Msiexec.exe corruption. The second message encourages you to try another means since the SFC scan couldn’t be run, while the last message indicates that some of the corrupted files — which may or may not include Msiexec.exe — were fixed.

Fix 4: Turn On the Windows Installer Service

Msiexec.exe is a process as well as part of a service, namely the Windows Installer Service. Obviously, there is no way the installer could run if the service is turned off. Many users claimed that after a lot of digging and fruitless application of troubleshooting steps, they discovered that the Windows Installer Service had been disabled.

If you keep getting the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” error despite your best efforts, you can check whether the relevant service is enabled or not.

Open the Windows Services window. To do this, either type Services in Search or run the services.msc command in the Run box. When the Services window is launched, scroll down until you find the Windows Installer Service. Right-click the service and select Properties or double-click it to open the Properties window straightway.

Expand the “Startup type” option and select Manual. Don’t bother about it if the option is greyed out, provided it is already set to Manual. Next, check whether the service is started or stopped. If it is stopped, click the Start button. Next, click the Apply and OK buttons one after the other.

After doing this, installing and uninstalling MSI applications will be a breeze.

Conclusion

It is no doubt frustrating to be unable to add or remove programs with MSI installation packages due to the “Msiexec.exe Access Is Denied” error. With our guide, that should be a thing of the past. You can share your experience with the solutions in the box below. You can also share any additional insights that can benefit other readers.

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