Troubleshooting Vista Installs

If you had problems installing Vista on a system, you can troubleshoot by checking the various log files Vista creates during Setup. Here’s a quick summary of each Setup log including its location and function:

  • $windows.~bt\sources\panther – used during the Windows PE phase
  • $windows.~bt\sources\rollback – same as above except a fatal error occurred and Setup rolled back
  • %WINDIR%\panther – location of Setup logs once your disk has been configured
  • %WINDIR%\system32\sysprep\panther – location of Sysprep logs
  • %WINDIR%\inf\setupapi*.log – PnP device installation log

For more information on deploying Vista, see my series of articles on starting with


Mitch Tulloch was lead author for the Windows Vista Resource Kit from Microsoft Press, which is the book for IT pros who want to deploy, maintain and support Windows Vista in mid- and large-sized network environments. Mitch was also the author of Introducing Windows Server 2008 and technical project lead for the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Resource Kit, both books also from Microsoft Press. For more information on these and other books by Mitch, see

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