Windows: Enable MSI Service in Safe Mode

I have run into scenerios where I needed access to the Windows Installer service while in Safe Mode. You may be suprised to know that this service is not enabled by default. The following info will get it back for you:

To start Windows Installer in Safe Mode:
1. Restart your computer and press F8 before the Boot Menu or splash screen.

2. Open a CMD.EXE window.

3. Type the following commands and press Enter:

REG ADD “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Minimal\MSIServer” /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D “Service”
net start msiserver

NOTE: You can use this technique to uninstall an application in Safe Mode.

13 thoughts on “Windows: Enable MSI Service in Safe Mode

  1. This technique did not directly work on a XP Home machine I recently repaired. REG did not seem to be a valid command or utility present in the system. I did, however, open up REGEDIT and manually add in the key you described. I was able to net start msiserver in safe mode after that. Thanks! For some reason the freeware SAFEMSI utility was not working.

  2. Interesting… I have never used XP home actually so I suppose I should quantify this by saying XPSP2/SP3 Pro . 😉

    Glad to hear its working for you!

  3. This will not work with 2000. REG.exe is an xp only app- though you can copy it to a 2000 machine

  4. I get an error. “The system administrator has set polices to prevent this installation.” I am logged on as administrator. Any ideas?

  5. At what point to do you get that message? Sounds like a Computer Policy set at the GPO level?

  6. Windows 2000 was very limited with command line functionality.

    To the person having trouble with access? Are you running Vista? Unless you use the ‘runas’ command, you won’t be getting command line stuff to work. That’s a safety precaution.

    For both 2000 and Vista or if you can’t copy and paste, try doing it manually with regedit.

    Start > Run > ‘regedit’

    Browse to HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\

    Create a new folder for ‘MSIServer’ by right-clicking on either ‘Minimal’ or ‘Network’ and choosing ‘New’ > ‘Key’. Enter ‘MSIServer’ (CaSe SeNsItIvE).

    Minimal is safe mode WITHOUT network support.

    Network is safe mode WITH network support.

    You’ll probably want to do this for both.

    Browse to the new key you just created. On the right pane, right-click on the white space and choose ‘New’ > ‘String Value’ and enter ‘Service’ (CaSe SeNsItIvE).

    You’re done. In safe mode, Start > Run > ‘services.msc’, find ‘Windows Installer’ and start it. If it starts, you did everything right. If it doesn’t work check for case sensitivity and that you’re in the right safe mode (minimal or network).

  7. I have tried to start many services in safe mode, but still I never got this to start: Windows Image Acquisition. Can anyone help me please?…

  8. I tried it here on Windows XP Home Edition, The registry keys are “Perfectly” added and checked

    the net start msiserver + the Services.msc attempt failed.

    the command-line returned “System error 1058 has ocurred”

    the service cannot be started either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled devices associated with it.


  9. I tried this and it accepted the changes but when I typed in ‘net start msiserver’ it said ‘error 1084 cannot be started in Safe Mode??

    • Hi Cheryl, I posted this quite some time ago so I am pretty sure this was Windows XP. What OS are you trying to do this on? I have not tested it (or thankfully needed to) against Windows 7 so not sure it works..

  10. Make sure you are actually just starting in safe mode and not safe mode with networking etc

  11. Thanks Steve. It perfectly worked for my Win7 Professional-64 bit machine. i could start the service and could execute the .msi files successfully.

    everyone, if you face any issues in executing the command, please try editing the Registry directly as mentioned by steve. this will do exactly the same thing as the command.


  12. For Safe Mode with Networking use this :

    REG ADD “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\Network\MSIServer” /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D “Service”

    net start msiserver

    As for people using – Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8

    when using cmd.exe make sure that you right click and
    “RUN AS Administrator” when opening the Command Prompt.

    These versions need UAC Elevation this ensures that you have full admin rights while using CMD.exe and REG.exe

    Hope this helps


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