A software installation is necessary if a complex program is to be run locally on a device, be it a PC or a smartphone. It is used on all operating systems and platforms and is constantly being modernized. Each user must install software on their device sooner or later. In the broadest sense, setting up the operating system is already a bundled software installation. Included installation packages are usually started automatically.

Many different programs that support the system are usually installed, are supplied as standard or are urgently needed as components. If the user wishes to use other programs, games or applications later, he must install them additionally.


Installation process from a user perspective

For the user, the installation of already compressed packages, which can be placed independently, is usually relatively easy. On common Windows operating systems, there is often a setup.exe for installation, which must be run as an administrator or without administrative rights. A double click is enough to be guided through an installation menu. For other operating systems, this can be much more complicated, but more on that later.

In Windows, the user can typically choose where to install the program. In addition to the desired folder, the choice can also fall between an internal or external hard drive or refer to a server or an alternative storage medium. Many installations also allow you to select subcomponents to install.

By confirming via button clicks, the installer jumps to the actual installation and unpacks the data to the installation location, registers the software in the registry and creates all necessary folders for temporary files and user access. At the user’s request, the software links to the newly installed application on the desktop or in a desired menu. The software can now be started via the icon of the link.

Different types of software installation

The software installation via local exe file, which obtains data from an archive that was previously stored on the device, is just one of many ways to install software. As mentioned at the beginning, it has prevailed, especially on Windows, but works similarly with Android, for example.

Other UNIX- or GNU-Linux-based operating systems, on the other hand, work with software packages and archives, the installation process of which is started via the command line or now more user-friendly via package manager. There is no registry in which the software configuration is specified here, for which special configuration files are used. Due to the system, the choice of the installation folder is also omitted.

On Mac OS X, software installation is also possible by simply copying and dropping the program. However, this process runs the risk that a previous, outdated version of the same software is still on the device and that the programs are obstructing each other.

More complex programs used to be shipped on CD-Roms and DVDs to be installed from this storage medium in a space-saving manner. Today, however, almost all major software packages are also made available for download, and often only one key or other registration access is purchased.

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Problems during an installation

The software installation was successful if the installed program starts, works properly, and does not cause security vulnerabilities. If these occur, then usually already during the installation. If an installation requests administrative rights, this may indicate that the program is more complex than you thought.

Virus scanners detect Trojans and malware contained in programs during the copying process of the installation. If the installation cannot be completed, the error may also be found in malicious file structures on the device or active and blocked applications.