The Usual Tech Ramblings

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.


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