View and Extract Content from a MSI File

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Article ID: 40930

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Updated On:

Products

CA Plex

Issue/Introduction

Question: 

How to View and extract Content from a MSI File

Environment:  

Any Windows environment

Answer: 

There are several ways to install software and also a number of different solutions to create the setup file for end users to get the product installed onto their systems. Inno Setup, InstallShield and Null Scriptable Install System (NSIS) are software that help create a setup installer, another is Microsoft’s own Windows Installer. Known as MSI files because of the file extension, Windows Installer files are used extensively by Microsoft for updating and installing Windows and other related software, they also have issues such as MSI files not being usable in Safe Mode.

Windows Installer software components are integrated into Windows as standard and MSI packages can be used by system administrators and over networks for remote installations. Many other developers also use MSI installers to pack their programs, often an MSI is embedded inside an executable setup installer so it’s usage is invisible to the end user. Sometimes even when the program itself might not necessarily need installation because there’s only a few files, an MSI is used.

View and extract MSI Files with an Archiver

Although an MSI installer file is more of a database than an archive, such as Zip or RAR, some archiving software can still read and extract the contents of an MSI file.

7-Zip

Probably the most popular free archiving utility, 7-Zip is able to read and extract the contents of an MSI file. As it behaves just like any other readable archive, you can simply right click on the file and choose 7-Zip -> Open archive to open the MSI for viewing.

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msi1.png

 

With the 7-Zip window open, it’s easy to extract the whole MSI or individual files/folders by dragging and dropping them from the window or using the Extract button. You can also do similar with the 7-Zip -> Extract context menu commands and extract the whole contents of the installer to a folder.

 

Extract an MSI File using the Command Line

Because Windows Installer files are built to allow silent installations and administrative installs, it make sense to have a good command line interface. Windows has the ability to allow the MSI file contents to be extracted using the Command Prompt or via a script. Simply open the Run box (Win+R) or a Command Prompt and type msiexec to get a list of arguments.

 

 

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msi2.png

Thankfully the syntax to unpack an MSI file is pretty simple, the following can be inserted into the Run box, Command Prompt or your own script.

msiexec /a pathtoMSIfile /qb TARGETDIR=pathtotargetfolder

The “/qb” argument tells the installer to display a simple UI while unpacking, if you wish to make the process completely silent use “/qn” instead. 

Environment

Release: ESBPLX99000-7.1-Cool Plex-Extended Support Basic
Component:

Attachments

1558719755655000040930_sktwi1f5rjvs16vf2.png get_app
1558719753561000040930_sktwi1f5rjvs16vf1.png get_app