Steps I use to narrow down the root cause of an XNA Game Studio setup failure

Earlier this week, a co-worker ran into an error while installing XNA Game Studio on his computer, and he asked me for help figuring out what caused the problem.  I realized that I follow essentially the same set of steps to narrow down the root cause every time I run into an XNA Game Studio setup problem.  I want to post these steps on my blog to try to help teach people how to identify root causes and hopefully help solve XNA Game Studio setup problems on their own instead of always needing to rely on a setup expert to analyze and interpret their log files.

Here are the steps I use to narrow down the root cause of an XNA Game Studio setup failure:

  1. Go to the folder that contains the log files for the version of XNA Game Studio that you are trying to install.  See the list at the end of this blog post for the setup log file locations for each version of XNA Game Studio.

  2. Sort the folder by last modified date.

  3. Open the most recent file named GameStudioSetup-*.log in a text editor such as Notepad.

  4. Search for the string Bootstrapper.exe error.

  5. Most of the time, this will lead you to an error occurring while installing one of the MSIs chained in by XNA Game Studio setup, and the error will list a log file that contains more detailed information about the cause of the error.  For example:

    Bootstrapper.exe Error: 0 : In Task InstallPlatformTools: MSI Task Processor Failed on task: Installing XNA Game Studio Platform Tools \n Please consult C:\Users\myusername\AppData\Local\Temp\XNA Game Studio 4.0 Setup\Logs\xnags_platform_tools-20101025.180123.LOG for additional log information.

  6. Open the log file listed in the error message in step 5, search for the string return value 3 and try to narrow down the failure further from there.

You can see a specific example of this technique in this blog post about troubleshooting XnaLiveProxy installation problems.

The above steps will not work for 100% of all possible XNA Game Studio setup failures, but based on my past experience, they will work in most cases.  Finding the root cause is only the first step, and the steps you need to take to solve a setup problem will vary depending on what the root cause is.  I’ve found that some setup problems have solutions that are pretty self-explanatory once you know what the root cause is though, so hopefully the above steps will help some people be able to more quickly diagnose and solve XNA Game Studio installation problems.

As always, if you run into a problem that you are unsure of the resolution for or if you have trouble interpreting the information in the XNA Game Studio setup log files, please post a comment on the App Hub forums and/or contact me.  When posting on the forums, please zip your XNA Game Studio setup log files, upload the zip file to a file server (such as and include a link to the log files in your post to allow us to investigate and offer workarounds more quickly.

XNA Game Studio setup log file locations

XNA Game Studio setup creates setup log files at the following locations:

  • XNA Game Studio 2.0 - %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft XNA\XNA Game Studio\v2.0\Setup\Logs
  • XNA Game Studio 3.0 - %temp%\XNA Game Studio 3.0 Setup\Logs
  • XNA Game Studio 3.1 - %temp%\XNA Game Studio 3.1 Setup\Logs
  • XNA Game Studio 4.0 - %temp%\XNA Game Studio 4.0 Setup\Logs