Trying to run a programs setup.exe file, but no install windows/prompts start up.

I've tried running the setup file as a local-admin, as the domain admin, I've deleted and re-downloaded the setup files, and I've done Alt+Tab to see if the window was hidden beyond the border of the monitors.

This program has been installed on many other end-user PC's, but this one seems not to want to work. I've even copied the setup folder from a different PC instead of from the server, ruling out the source folder being borked.

After double-clicking on the setup file, the Windows 7 loading wheel pops up, but no prompts/windows pop up. A setup.exe entry does show up in Task Manager, though. Nothing shows up in the Event Logs.

Where else should I look? What should be my next steps in troubleshooting?

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate (same as the other working computers). UAC is disabled. Setup.exe uses InstallShield.

  • 2
    Have you tried turning it off and on again? (In all seriousness)
    – rtf
    May 22, 2013 at 21:36
  • @Tanner Haha...yes...
    – Kruug
    May 22, 2013 at 21:40
  • Are there any suspicious entries visible in the Windows Event Viewer? May 22, 2013 at 21:43
  • Are you sure the setup.exe in Task Manager is the setup.exe you ran ? It could be somebody else tried to install something before on this machine which got a borked install. The setup.exe of that is automatically re-launched after each reboot trying to complete the install (which never happens). At that point your setup immediately closes because another setup already runs. Kill the setup.exe in task-manager and then retry your setup (without rebooting).
    – Tonny
    May 22, 2013 at 21:44
  • 1
    @Kruug Then whoever made the installer explicitly set it up as a silent install, with these options disabled. My best guess is that something goes wrong with the install on this particular PC and the installer just keeps waiting for input, which you can never give because all interaction is disabled. I'm signing of now. Past midnight here and the alarm-clock will go at 6:00 AM. Will check back here tomorrow, if I can think of something else.
    – Tonny
    May 22, 2013 at 22:05

7 Answers 7


Interesting question :)

Are you sure that computer can run other installers, and that the problem is not windows installer itself?

Also, sometimes you can extract the setup files from certain installers. Then you will get a new setup file that doesn't have the preferences (silent, no interaction) set to it, as the parent installer has. Check if you can extract files from the installer with an unzip tool like WinRar or Universal Extractor.

It might be worth a shot to check if all system files are correct. Hit windows key + R, type 'cmd'. Then in the newly opened dos venster type 'sfc /scannow'.

Finally you might try running the setup.exe in safe mode. See if that changes anything.

  • This one did it. I went into MSConfig, disabled all non-Microsoft start-up objects, and it installed.
    – Kruug
    May 23, 2013 at 14:55
  • @Kruug, I'm glad it helped you ;)
    – Forza
    May 23, 2013 at 15:38
  • Windows File Protection : "files that are required for windows to run properly must be copied to the dll cache insert xp professional cd now " .... "insert XP professional CD".... actually I don't own a single CD, music, data, nothing. I need to run this ancient machine to run some ancient hardware plz any suggestion?
    – user391339
    Nov 28, 2017 at 5:53
  • Hey Kruug when you said "this one did it". Were you referring to sfc /scannow or to starting in safe mode?
    – user391339
    Nov 28, 2017 at 5:56
  • @user391339 I believe he was referring to safe mode
    – Forza
    Nov 28, 2017 at 9:40

Run Process Monitor. Filter for setup.exe. Compare what happens when it terminates with an example that works correctly.

  • 1
    what example works perfectly? what will happen (i.e. what are the possibilities)?
    – user391339
    Nov 28, 2017 at 5:44

Kill the setup.exe process in the task manager and then try rerunning it. Sometimes you get a "zombie"* process that's launched but for whatever reason bugs out and doesn't load correctly, preventing a new one from starting, and doesn't go away by itself.

*Note: I'm using "zombie" in a colloquial sense. "Zombie" processes are real things in OS terms, but I am not certain of what state these processes are in.

  • We seem to have the same idea:-) I only saw your answer after I completed my comment.
    – Tonny
    May 22, 2013 at 21:45
  • I've done this to no avail. :) Thanks for the suggestion, though.
    – Kruug
    May 22, 2013 at 21:48
  • Yes, this happens to me too sometimes, and I'm on Vista.
    – Samir
    May 22, 2013 at 21:50

Try temporarily disabling the antivirus. Especially if the antivirus you use on this PC is different from the other PCs. I have seen similar behaviour many times before, and this has fixed the problem a few times.

Note: only do this if you're certain the setup file is not infected with any malware.

  • Same A/V as the other PCs, but it's worth a shot!
    – Kruug
    May 22, 2013 at 21:50
  • Tried running with the A/V turned off, still no luck.
    – Kruug
    May 22, 2013 at 22:04

Going to Task Manager-->processes-->Go to Details-->Select the non working application, right clicking and going to Analyze Wait Chain worked. It was waiting for WinRAR.exe for some reason. To get around this, I selected winrar.exe and "disabled" it and the setup.exe program opened no problem.

Seems to work okay on Windows 10, just not 7 and 8.


If you have administrator authority, right click on the setup and choose properties. It might be set to read-only, if so, uncheck the "read-only" box and click apply, then okay. It might also be blocked for some reason, if so check the "unblock" box and click apply, then okay.

Took me sooooooooo long to figure that out, but it was the issue in my case.

Hopefully this helps someone!


This could be due to Microsoft's WaitChain logic in Windows 7 and later OSes. "Analyse the Wait chain" to see which program is blocking it. It is visible in Windows 8.

WaitChain means the setup.exe is waiting to launch soon after another process is finished. So, You can start killing processes from TaskManager one by one to see which one is blocking the setup.exe. You may start with Skype or some other Microsoft Processes.

For Windows 8.1 and Newer OSes, Taskmanager->Processes>Go to Details-->select the non_working_application-->right click will show the "Analyze Wait Chain" option. For Windows 7, The "Analyze wait chain..." command can be invoked from Resource Monitor.

  • This answer seriously needs additional info, like how exactly to perform the wait chain analysis. (Exact steps.) The "Analyze wait chain..." command can be invoked from Resource Monitor (Windows 7 and later). Add this information to your reply and I will retract the downvote.
    – user477799
    Feb 28, 2017 at 7:44

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