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I have noticed that it seems a fashion for some companies to force us to install their software through a customised online installer.

For example: AVG free, Autodesk Maya, cygwin, etc - and the list is getting longer.

Is there a way to detect the website the custom online installer is connecting to, so that I can download the actual setup file using my preferred download manager?

I dislike custom download managers for many reasons:

  • Force you to run arbitrary executables which may not be trusted

  • Usually lack support for basic features like pausing and resuming downloads (for large files this is a big waste of time and bandwidth if the download is interrupted)

  • If installing on many computers you are forced to download the setup once for each deployment.

  • No support for download acceleration.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

These online or "stub" installers allow the company to have a single installation program that hardly ever changes and simply installs the latest version from data files kept in a central location. It makes it a lot easier for the company to ensure that new users install the latest version of the program.

Addressing some of your points:

Force you to run arbitrary executables which may not be trusted

You are choosing to install this company's product. Presumably you trust the product you wish to install, why should you trust the installer any less? Double check the options (if any) before selecting "OK".

I just hate the fact that if installing on many computers you are forced to download the setup for each deployment.

These installers are designed for individual end users. If you are installing on multiple computers then contact the supplier and explain your situation. They should have a procedure for when a corporation buys their product.

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how about the fact that downloads cant resume, etc – Dr Deo May 5 '11 at 11:53
@Dr Deo - that is a problem with the individual installation program and I can't really offer a solution to that. Perhaps you should contact the supplier directly and see what they say. – ChrisF May 5 '11 at 11:56

Many vendors, like Adobe, offer an alternative download, usually called the "offline" installer. Sometimes you have to register and agree to a license in order to use the offline installer on your network. Look for a button that says something like "Other Downloads".

If the installer goes through downloading from the internet and then pauses to ask you to click a button to start the installation, you can search your user profile temporary files folders (\Local Settings\Temp, or \AppData) for a new folder that this installer created. Often you can find .msi or .exe files in there that you can use to create your own offline installer. Just grab the entire contents and copy it elsewhere. Then cancel the install and start playing around with the set of files you captured until you get the installation to work. Repackage it and you've got an offine installer of your own.

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