"Error 1402. Could not open key: UNKNOWN" while installing vCenter Server on Windows
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"Error 1402. Could not open key: UNKNOWN" while installing vCenter Server on Windows


Article ID: 302004


Updated On:




  • You see the error:
    Error 1402. Could not open key: UNKNOWN
  • Installing vCenter Server on Windows fails with the error "Error 1402. Could not open key"
  • Installing vCenter Server 4.1 on Windows server fails
Note: This issue may also occur with other VMware products, such as VMware Workstation.


This issue occurs due to insufficient or incorrect permissions on a certain registry key or its parent container.


To resolve this issue, select appropriate permission to the Windows Registry:

Process to select appropriate permission to the Windows Registry:

  1. Click Start > Run, type regedit, and click OK. The Registry Editor window opens.
  2. Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components.
  3. Locate the correct container registry entry, right click parent container registry key, such as C9AE13788D0B61F80AF18C3B9B1A1EE8, and click Permissions and click Advanced.

    Note: The relevant container registry entry causing the install issue can be identified in a fully detailed error message appended to the error outlined in the above Symptoms.
  4. In the Owner tab, Change Owner to Local Administrators group. (In Select User Tab, Click Locations -> Select the Server Name Instead of Domain ->Click OK -> Enter the Object name as Administrators and Click OK).
  5. Select Replace owner on subcontainers and objects option.
  6. Click Apply.
  7. Click Permission Tab and Click Add.
  8. Add Administrator, Administrators and SYSTEM accounts.
  9. Click each account in the list and ensure that it has Full Control = Allow and Read = Allow permissions.
  10. Select the Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object option.

Additional Information

To identify the Keys with Permission Denied in Powershell, use these commands:
Open Windows PowerShell and run these commands:
  • Change Path to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE: PS C:\Users\Administrator> Set-Location HKLM
  • Change path to appropriate Key: PS HKLM:\> cd .\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components
  • Clear all the Errors: PS HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components> $Error.Clear()
  • List all the keys, expected to take few minutes depending on number of keys present: PS HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components> dir -Recurse
  • List all the Error Messages during the above command execution: PS HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components> $Error
  • To get the Exact KeyName: PS HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components> $Error.CategoryInfo.TargetName