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\->Tips and Tricks->Testing Your MSI

Testing Your MSI

This section provides tips and a checklist for testing your product, if you find a problem then you will probably want to see the help for debugging installation problems.

If you find that you can't uninstall a product once its installed then I'd recommend that you read the "Uninstall Fails (Don't Panic)" section :-)

Needs more work, and a bit of a check list:

  1. Only you know how likely your MSI is to "stuff up' your development computer. Think twice about installing there or use a virtual machine. if possible (now that Virtual PC is free there is no excuse). I've never yet done something I haven't been able to undo but I've been close...

  2. Check that all launch conditions work (install, repair, uninstall).

  3. Test on multiple operating systems if supported. virtual machines (such as VmWare or Virtual PC) are very useful here. If not supported on an OS then check that a launch condition exists to prevent installation where not supported.

  4. Try installing as administrator, "normal user", basically different restrictions. Any issues may need you msi modified or at least some documentation.

  5. Logon with separate test administrator and normal users. This can test any install or repair on demand as well as any logon scripts you may have set up.

  6. Try silent install (repair and uninstall). If not supported (and why not?) check that a launch condition exists to prevent silent installation. This will annoy (or turn away) any large customers who want to automatically deploy the product.

  7. Double click on an MSI that has already been installed, see what happens, try all options (uninstall/repair).

  8. Test repair of product (or disable it). Double check any configuration (registry, INI etc) in case it got corrupted.

  9. Try uninstall/repair via the Windows "Add/Remove Applet".

  10. Test all conditions on all custom actions you have defined.

  11. Specifically test install followed by deletion of the installed MSI (rename is good enough), see what happens during repair and uninstall. If you got prompted (when files didn't need installation - files always need source):

    1. Is this what you wanted or expected?

    2. Manipulation/use of the "SourceDir" property is one possible reason.

    3. Version lying on files can also cause this.

    If you got prompted for any reason, did the dialog prompt in an "friendly" manner?

  12. Test per-machine installs/repairs/uninstalls under the SYSTEM account (see "Testing Under the Local System Account"). This should be in "silent" mode, but should work as some deployment tools use the system account.

  13. Test deployment using your chosen mechanism.

  14. Create a new version of your product, try upgrade to make sure you don't have any issues. Its no good finding out when you want to deploy your second version that you have done (or not done) something in the first version that prevents it!

  15. Some links to other testing pages:


Microsoft awarded me an MVP (Most Valuable Professional award) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 for the Windows SDK (Windows Installer) area.Please email me any feedback, additional information or corrections.
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Sunday February 28 2016 at 3:45pm
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Microsoft awarded me an MVP (Most Valuable Professional award) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 for the Windows SDK (Windows Installer) area.