TheGeekery

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MSI Installer: A System Restart From a Previous Install or Update Is Pending

Every now and again I get issues with the MSI installer service complaining that a previous install is pending a reboot, even after a reboot. I’ve seen this issue crop up on Exchange updates, Visual Studio updates, and more recently on a Trend Micro Office Scan upgrade. This causes some hair pulling most of the time, but I stumbled across the secret key that controls this feature…

There are two registry keys that trigger the installer service to stop an install with this error.

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HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\UpdateExeVolatile
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SessionManager\PendingFileRenameOperations

Before messing with the registry, remember it’s a big part of how windows works, and breaking something there will most likely break windows. If you’re still getting this error after a reboot, you should be able to follow these instructions, but remember to make a backup just in case1

To remove an orphaned UpdateExeVolatile registry key value

  1. Open a registry editor, such as Regedit.exe or Regedt32.exe.
  2. Navigate to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\
  3. In the right navigation pane, double-click the UpdateExeVolatile key.
  4. Configure the key with a value of 0.
  5. Close Registry Editor.

To delete the orphaned PendingFileRenameOperations registry key

  1. Open a registry editor, such as Regedit.exe or Regedt32.exe.
  2. Navigate to HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\
  3. In the right navigation pane, right-click the PendingFileRenameOperations key and select Delete.
  4. Close Registry Editor.

That’s it, pretty simple. The MSI installer service will be happy again.


  1. Microsoft has a rather large knowledgebase article dedicated to the registry, and some steps on making backups [here][1]

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