How to Fix ‘Error opening installation log file’

Error opening installation log file. Verify that the specified log file location exists and is writable

You may experience the message “Error opening installation log file” when you try to uninstall a program using application manager on Windows. This error only occurs if you have Windows Installer Logging enabled, but because of some glitch or conflict, the Windows Installer engine cannot properly write the uninstallation log file.

Error opening installation log file
Error opening installation log file

This usually occurs if the Windows Installer’s application heap becomes freed and because of this, it loses the information about where to store the log file. Windows then attempts to write the log to a default location as a file but fails to do so. This is a very old error and has been addressed by Microsoft officially on their website. The workarounds to this issue are quite simple and straightforward.

What causes ‘Error opening installation log file’?

As discussed above, this error is related to logging of Windows Installer. Logging is basically keeping track of all the installs and uninstalls and storing them. This way you can get the technical details in a text document. A detailed list of why this error might occur is:

  • The Windows Installer module is having trouble keeping a log of installs and uninstalls because it doesn’t know where to store the file.
  • The Installer is either corrupt or its installation file are missing.
  • Windows Explorer is directly related in all of Windows Installer workings. It may be in an error state.

Before you move on with the solutions, make sure that you have administrator privileges. We might be executing some command prompt statements which may need elevated status.

Solution 1: Running the application’s uninstaller

Before you move on to the detailed solutions, it should be noted that it is always recommended to uninstall a program using its own uninstaller. When you uninstall a program using the Windows Application manager, it might not always launch the application’s native uninstaller application.

Steam's default uninstaller
Steam’s default uninstaller

When you use the application’s native uninstaller, it bypasses all these issues which Windows Installer encounters and uninstalls the program properly after removing all the files. You can find the application’s uninstaller by navigating to its directory and locate the file ‘uninstall.exe’. Run it and follow the on-screen instructions. Make sure that you have administrator access.

Solution 2: Restarting Explorer.exe

Explorer.exe is the process of Windows Explorer which is more like a file manager. However, unlike other simple file managers, it also communicates and transfers information to other modules such as Windows Installer. If it is corrupt or in an error state, you might experience the error message under discussion. Restarting Windows Explorer is also the official fix listed by Microsoft.

  1. Press Windows + R to bring up the Run Type “taskmgr” in the dialogue box to bring up your computer’s task manager.
  2. Once in the task manager, click the “Processes” tab located on the top of the new window.
  3. Now locate the task of Windows Explorer in the list of processes. Click on it and press the “Restart” button present at the bottom left side of the window.
Restarting Explorer.exe - Task manager on Windows 10
Restarting Explorer.exe – Task manager
  1. After restarting Windows Explorer, try running the installation file again and check if the error message is resolved.
  2. If your file manager and desktop icons disappear, you can launch Windows Explorer again manually. Press Windows + R, type ‘explorer.exe’ in the dialogue box and press Enter.

Solution 3: Fixing TMP and TEMP directories

You might also experience this error if the ‘TMP’ and ‘TEMP’ directories of the file are different. This will cause Windows Installer to write to TMP’ but when it will try to read them using the attribute of ‘TEMP’, it will get an error and propagate it to you. We can try referring the values of both towards the same direction so the conflict gets resolved.

  1. Press Windows + S, type “command prompt” in the dialogue box, right-click on it and select Run as administrator.
  2. Once in the command prompt, execute the following statement.
set TEMP+%tmp%
Pointing TEMP and TMP to right directory
Pointing TEMP and TMP to correct location
  1. Now try running the installation and see if this fixes the problem.

Solution 4: Manually removing the log file

If you still receive this error even after following the above two solutions, you can try to manually remove the INSTALL log file from the application’s directory. There are some cases where there is a log file already with the proper file names. If this happens, Windows Installer doesn’t replace it and gives an error message. We can try manually removing and see if this takes the Installer out of its error state.

  1. Open your Program files in Local Disk C (this is the default location of installation files. If you installed on some other disk, open that directory) and locate your program.
  2. Once in the program’s directory, search for the file ‘INSTALL.txt’. Once you locate it, cut it and paste it to some other directory (like the Desktop).
Manually removing LOG file
Manually removing LOG file
  1. Now try running the Installer again and see if this fixed the problem.

In addition to the solutions mentioned above, you can also try the following fixes:

  • Running an SFC System File Checker will scan all your Windows files (including Windows Installer) and fix any discrepancies (if present). Open an elevated command prompt and execute the following ‘sfc /scannow’.
  • Re-register Windows Installer or Reinstall If Windows Installer is corrupt, you can refresh it manually. The reinstall might fix any missing parts or modules in the program. You can detailed information on how to do this in Microsoft’s official website.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.