Windows File Protection on Windows 2000 and Windows XP

Windows Installer adheres to Windows File Protection (WFP) when installing essential system files on Windows XP and Windows 2000. If a protected system file is modified by an unattended installation of an application, WFP restores the file to the verified file version. For more information, see Windows Resource Protection.

Windows Installer never attempts to install or replace a protected file. When the InstallFiles action or any other action scheduled before InstallFiles attempts to install a file protected on Windows XP or Windows 2000, the installer calls WFP with a request to install or replace the protected file. The installer requests the file installation from WFP immediately after executing the InstallFiles action. WFP installs or replaces the file on the user's system with a cached version of the protected file. Note that this does not guarantee that the version of the file installed from the cache is the version required by the application. After WFP has installed the file, the installer determines whether this version matches the version in the package. If the file version in the package is greater than the installed version, the installer informs the user that it cannot update the system and that an update of the operating system may be required for the application.

If any action sequenced after InstallFiles attempts to install or replace a protected file not already installed on the system, the installer cannot call WFP to install the file. In this case, the installer informs the user that it cannot update the system and that an update of the operating system may be required for the application.

The installer also checks with WFP when removing files and never attempts to remove protected system files.

Component Key Files Protected by WFP

Note that if a Windows Installer component contains a WFP file, this file must be specified as the key path for the component.

When the installer attempts to install a component's key file on Windows XP or Windows 2000, it first calls WFP to determine if the key file is protected. When the key file of a component is protected by WFP, and that key file is already installed, the installer updates the component only if the version of the key file in the package is greater than the installed version. If the installation package specifies that a component be installed, and the key file of the component is not currently installed, then regardless of whether the key file is protected the installer installs the component. Once any component having a key file protected by WFP is installed, it is permanently installed, and the installer never removes or replaces the component.

Installation of Assemblies

WFP for assemblies differs from WFP for Windows XP and Windows 2000 system files.

WFP protects Windows XP and Windows 2000 system files by detecting attempts to replace protected system files. This protection is triggered after WFP receives a directory change notification for a file in a protected directory. When WFP receives this notification, it determines which file has changed. If the file is protected, WFP looks up the file signature in a static catalog file to determine if the new file is the correct version. If the file version is not correct, the system replaces the file with the correct version from either the cache or distribution media.

In contrast, WFP of assemblies is dynamic. WFP is extended to files as they are added to the shared side-by-side assembly cache. If an assembly becomes corrupted, WFP will request that the installer replace the file. Windows Installer may or may not be able to replace the file depending on whether the source package is accessible. If the source package is inaccessible, WFP will put up a dialog box stating that it is unable to restore the file.

Note that unmanaged shared side-by-side assemblies, installed in %windir%\winsxs, are protected by WFP. Unmanaged private assemblies, installed in the application directory, are not protected by WFP. Managed global assemblies installed in the application directory or %windir%\assembly\gac are not protected by WFP.

For information about Windows Resource Protection (WRP) on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, see Using Windows Installer and Windows Resource Protection.

See Also

Windows Resource Protection

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Build date: 11/1/2007