Error While Installing Applications in Vista (like Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Daniel Petri in Windows Vista with 0 Comments

One of the first tasks that one performs right after finishing the installation of a new operating system is to install all the required additional applications and change the system’s settings to match their own requirements.

One of the most frequently used applications I install on my machine is Adobe Acrobat Reader (see for a download link). After downloading it you need to double-click the executable file and allow the wizard to kick in.

However, in some cases, when installing Adobe Acrobat Reader on Windows Vista you might see the following error message:

The Temp folder is on a drive that is full or is inaccessible. Free up space on the drive or verify that you have write permission on the Temp folder.

While trying to find a solution to this error I discovered the reason for the error and a way around it that allowed me to install Adobe Acrobat Reader without any issue.

The reason for the error

It seems that the reason behind this error is the fact that I usually tend to immediately disable User Account Control (or UAC) as one of the first tweaking steps of any new Vista installation (read “Disable User Account Control in Windows Vista” for more info).

UAC is an attempt made by the Vista engineers to increase the security of the operating system. Although UAC will indeed help the user gain more control over the actions that are performed with administrative rights on their computers, it is sometimes referred to as trying to protect the user from himself. The extra nagging of having to click on the UAC prompt for many of the actions that we do will most probably cause many users to simply disable it altogether. This is what I do.

However, please note that if UAC is disabled, files and folders are no longer virtualized to per-user locations for non-UAC compliant applications and all local administrators are automatically logged in with a full administrative access token. Because of that, disabling UAC essentially causes Vista to behave like the Windows XP user model.

Solution #1 – Enable User Account Control (UAC)

Since the lack of UAC on the system has caused the application’s installation parameters to fail, we need to temporarily enable UAC for the installation’s sake.

  1. In Control Panel click on User Accounts.
  2. Click “Turn User Account Control on or off”.
  3. Check the box to “Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer” and then click OK.
  4. Restart your computer.
  5. Now try to install Adobe Reader 8, you should succeed.

Note: If you want to, you can turn off User Account Control after you successfully install Adobe Reader.

Solution #2 – Use compatibility mode to install the application

If you do not wish to temporarily re-enable UAC (or cannot do so because it will require you to reboot the machine), you can configure the installation program to work in Windows XP SP2 compatibility mode.

  1. After downloading the installation file go to the folder where you’ve saved the file.
  2. Right-click the AdbeRdr80_en_US.exe file and then choose Properties.
  3. Click the Compatibility tab.
  4. 4. Under Compatibility Mode, check Run this program in compatibility mode for: and choose Windows XP (Service Pack 2) from the drop-down list.
  5. Click Apply, then click OK to close the Properties window
  6. Now try to install Adobe Reader 8, you should succeed.


Understanding and Configuring User Account Control in Windows Vista