Possible solutions for a 2203 error while installing the .NET Framework

I received a mail from a customer today that described a scenario where the .NET Framework 2.0 setup failed with error code 2203.  In this scenario, the application event log contained an entry like the following:

Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 -- The installer has encountered an unexpected error installing this package. This may indicate a problem with this package. The error code is 2203. The arguments are: C:\WINNT\Installer\2579981.ipi, -2147287035

According to the Windows Installer documentation, error code 2203 means Database: [2]. Cannot open database file. System error [3].  In this case, the system error code (-2147287035) means "access denied."

There are a couple of cases where I have seen this error in the past for the .NET Framework and other types of MSI-based setup packages:

  1. Permission problems for the %windir%\installer folder - If the Windows Installer service does not have sufficient permissions to read and write to this folder, the installation will fail.  Typically the subinacl tool described here will fix the permissions and then you can re-run setup and it will work correctly.

  2. Anti-virus software - If you have a real-time virus scanner enabled, and it happens to be scanning the file in %windir%\installer at the same time as setup is trying to open the file and install from it, you will get this type of error.  This is generally a timing issue, and in this case re-running setup will fix it.  Alternatively, you can disable real-time virus scanning during installation, but if you do this please be aware of the security implications of doing so and either install while not connected to the network, or if that is not possible, make sure to immediately re-enable the virus scanner after setup completes.


Comments (14)
  1. twaltari says:

    We are randomly getting these under a clean 32-bit Vista installation, when installing and uninstalling a set of MSI packages over and over again (changing the product language property each time). Some times one package fails, some times another one, both during installation and uninstallation. We use REBOOT=ReallySuppress. Disabling Windows Defender does not remove the problem. Any clues how to track down the cause?

    Windows Installer log contain:

    MSI (s) (98:48) [13:23:43:659]: BeginTransaction: Locking Server

    MSI (s) (98:48) [13:23:43:659]: SRSetRestorePoint skipped for this transaction.

    MSI (s) (98:48) [13:23:43:659]: Server not locked: locking for product {XXX}

    MSI (s) (98:48) [13:23:43:675]: Note: 1: 2203 2: C:WindowsInstallerc2634.ipi 3: -2147287035

    Action start 13:23:43: InstallInitialize.

    MSI (s) (98:48) [13:23:43:675]: Product: XXXX — Error 2203.Database: C:WindowsInstallerc2634.ipi. Cannot open database file. System error -2147287035.

    Error 2203.Database: C:WindowsInstallerc2634.ipi. Cannot open database file. System error -2147287035.

    Action ended 13:23:43: InstallInitialize. Return value 3.

    Action ended 13:23:43: INSTALL. Return value 3.

  2. Hi Twaltari – The error you’re getting means "access denied."  Is the name of the file (the one listed as c2634.ipi) different each time that you see a failing installation?  If so, it looks like there might be a permission issue on the folder c:windowsinstaller.  The first thing to check is that if you are running these MSIs in silent mode, you will need to make sure that you run them from an elevated process, because the folder c:windowsinstaller requires elevation in order for the process to be able to write to it on Windows Vista.

    If you are running from an elevated process, and you still get access denied errors, then you may need to modify the permissions on that folder using Windows Explorer.  On my Vista systems, that folder has the following permissions:

    Everyone – Read & execute; List folder contents; Read

    SYSTEM – Full control

    Administrators – Full control

    Also, the Administrators group is listed as the owner of this folder on my Vista systems.

    Hopefully one of the above will help.

  3. Ahmed Eissa says:

    I’ve tried to install MS .NET Framework on clean MS Windows XP SP3 with only MSDE2000 and I get this error: "The installer has encountered an unexpected error installing this package. This may indicate a problem with this package. The error code is 2203".

    I’ve searched for "C:WindowsInstaller" folder, but I didn’t find it.

    Could any one help me please?

  4. Hi Ahmed Eissa – Error 2203 means that Windows Installer is unable to open the MSI file that it is trying to install.  There should be an additional system error code listed in your log file for this type of error that might help us narrow this down further.  Can you check and see if you can find it by looking for this error code in your .NET Framework setup log file?

    I’m not sure what version of the .NET Framework you are installing, so you’ll need to look at the links in the post at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/articles/454956.aspx for a list of what log files are created for each version of the .NET Framework and locate the log files for your scenario based on that list.

    Also, do you get this error only for the .NET Framework setup, or do you see it for other products that you try to install on this system as well?

  5. ARLA says:


  6. Hi Arla – Which exact part of this blog post are you having trouble with?  If you can provide more specific details about the problem you're encountering, I can try to help further, but this comment doesn't give me enough information to work with.

  7. Ryan says:

    I was receiving this error on a Vista 64 bit system.. the "reminder" that an anti-virus system could be locking the system install files prompted me to take a look at my File Indexer – which is NOT supposed to be running real-time, but instead is supposed to wait for a few seconds of inactivity before it resumes file indexing.

    Stopping this file indexer did the trick, and I was able to install the service without any further issues.

  8. Tratstil says:

    I don't use an antivirut. I have downloaded  "subinacl"  but can't install it or other softwares. This is error message "Internal Error 2203 C:WindowsInstaller1a845.ipi, -2147287035"

  9. Hi Tratstil – The -2147287035 error code means access is denied.  It might help to try to use the workaround described in Issue 2 of the blog post at blogs.msdn.com/…/8613982.aspx to get a copy of SubInAcl, and then you can try to run the SubInAcl steps at blogs.msdn.com/…/solving-setup-errors-by-using-the-subinacl-tool-to-repair-file-and-registry-permissions.aspx to use SubInAcl to fix the file/folder/registry permissions on your computer.

  10. Paulo Chaves says:

    estou tendando desintalar um progarma e esta´dando erro cod 22o3  oque fazer?

  11. Hi Paulo Chaves – Most of the time, this type of error is caused by a permission problem.  I'd suggest that you try the workarounds listed above in this blog post to see if they help in your scenario.

  12. patricia says:

    how do i block my anti virus why i am trying 2 download something?

  13. Hi Patricia – The steps you'll need to use depend on what anti-virus software you're using.  I'd suggest searching for instructions on the web site of the manufacturer of your anti-virus software.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content