Error code 1603 when installing SQL 2005 Service Pack(s)

by on Jan.20, 2009, under software

Due to some issues with MS SQL 2005 and Reporting Services I was forced to update installation at our customer’s site to at least Service Pack 2. What seemed to be a trivial task turned into a nightmare (and daymare as well).

The first problem we had was that we were running the RTM version. Even though SP2 is cummulative update and it should be possible to install it directly, during the preinstallation checks it failed to connect to both the SQL Server and Reporting Services instances and reported authentication error.

I found plenty of similar reports on many internet forums but only one advice – SP2 might have these issues when installing over RTM, so install SP1 first and then SP2, it will work fine. But I didn’t have the SP1 installation package! If I was at home, the 300MB download would take just few minutes to complete, but here in the middle of Africa it took almost 12 hours.

<praise>Thank you Lord for resumable downloads. </praise>

The next evening, SP1 installation seemed to work fine  – well, except the SQL database. The update failed with error code 1603. First I thought that maybe the downloaded file was corrupted and the MSP file is broken but it was fine. So what, DB can stay at RTM, I need reporting services. Except that they won’t start.

Some more googling, but no advice on this error 1603 – it is not SQL specific, it is generated by windows installer. Oh well… let’s try the SP2 now!

SP2 now passed the preinstallation check, much to my surprise since the DB instance was still running at RTM level as before. Installation finished in few minutes, and again – 1603 error when trying to update the DB instance.

I ran through the megabytes of logs generated by the installer but didn’t find anything helpful except the following message:

Property(S): SQL200564Hotfix3042 = C:\install\SQL.2005.SP2\HotFixSQL\Files\sqlrun_sql.msp
MSI (s) (1C:98) [01:58:35:286]: Product: Microsoft SQL Server 2005 (64-bit) – Update ‘Service Pack 2 for SQL Server Database Services 2005 (64-bit) ENU (KB921896)’ could not be installed. Error code 1603. Additional information is available in the log file C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Setup Bootstrap\LOG\Hotfix\SQL9_Hotfix_KB921896_sqlrun_sql.msp.log.

Well, as one can expect, this is all that I found inside the SQL9_Hotfix_KB921896_sqlrun_sql.msp.log file 🙂

Out of desperation I checked the event log, and there it was! One simple sentence that lead to the solution:

MSP Error: 29506 SQL Server Setup failed to modify security permissions on file C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\Data\ for user martin.havlicek. To proceed, verify that the account and domain running SQL Server Setup exist, that the account running SQL Server Setup has administrator privileges, and that exists on the destination drive.

Someone created a subfolder with database backup in the Data folder with security permissions only for himself and the installer didn’t like that at all. I took ownership of that folder, deleted it (backup was from 2007!) and rerun the SP2 installation – and it worked perfectly!

So in case you are getting the same error as I was, you might find this info helpful.

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