Wednesday, May 10, 2006

After installing: Do I *really* need to reboot?

Oftentimes, after installing some new software application that uses an InstallShield wizard (or similar tool) for its setup, a prompt to reboot the machine appears, stating that the new application can't be used until the reboot is performed. I've asked myself the question: Do I really need to reboot my machine to use the program?

I came across a utility that helps answer this question. At least in some cases, the reason that the install program wants to reboot the machine is that a file that it tried to write during the install couldn't be written because it was already in use by another process, so the installer sets up a task to write the file the next time the machine is rebooted (at which time the target file should be unlocked because the process that was locking it before was cleared during the reboot).

The PendMoves command-line utility from Sysinternals displays a list of these "pending move" operations. By running pendmoves and looking at the results, you can get more information to help decide whether a reboot is really necessary before running the app. For example, if the only file that is pending write is a help file, it's likely to be safe to run the application even without the latest version of that file installed yet.

I'm not sure how well this technique works with Windows updates from Microsoft, but it has worked well for me for standard software application installs.


  1. Thanks Jon!

    I had been Googling (is that a word?) this Pendmoves and movefile and got to page 8 and saw your name. I just knew it wasn't you until I clicked on the link and saw your face. Maybe I should have emailed you in the first place.

    Matt Hicks

  2. Hey, Matt, yep, it's me! :-) Glad that the post was able to help you out a bit!


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