Warning: Do not use InstallShield (Why InstallShield Sucks)

I’ve decided to write this article during compiling my InstallShield project. It’s been roughly a month of development and my installer is nowhere near ready.

My project is not too complex either, only that I was tasked to build an installer without any prior experience with InstallShield.

Firstly there are other options. You can Google these, all I’m saying is there are 2 other install products out there which are better in every way than InstallShield.

InstallShield is the worst installer on the market

It’s not that it’s slightly bad, or needs a few minor improvements. It’s outrageously terrible. I have to question how Flexera are even in business. And it’s not just me, anyone who uses this product will experience extreme levels of frustration.

Things you can expect to encounter

  • Random build failures for no good reason. Simply retrying the build works
  • No way to dynamically update text edit text.
  • Constant crashes, crashing visual studio
  • Having to code both sides of a boolean expression. For example Button.Enabled = property – you would need to code in the button.Disabled property too.
  • Incredibly cumbersome UI. Performing the same action from different dialogs gives different results.
  • All the basic MSI limitations, so what’s the point of InstallShield?
  • Terrible help system
  • The forums are a ghost town
  • Flexera support – non existent (Do not monitor the forums)
  • No training videos, help yourself by trial and error mentality
  • Forced InstallShield branding
  • No way to customize icons for dialogs
  • No way to force upper case in text areas
  • Controls misalign just by selecting them
  • Service packs not available for public download
  • No control events, like keypress in a text box, only onblur


I’m purposely not going to talk about the competition, but if given any choice, NEVER go with this product or you’ll be ripping your hair out.

If you have any say in it, don’t give this company your business and actively boycott it.


5 thoughts on “Warning: Do not use InstallShield (Why InstallShield Sucks)

  1. Hi Michael,

    I absolutely agree with you in regards to that installer. I’ve used other ones as well, and had a similar (slightly less infuriating) experience.

    If your application doesn’t specifically need to run on the desktop, and has a some important dependencies, I can recommend deploying it as a virtual machine instead which bundles all the deps and which you fully control the environment in which your app runs. It’s much easier for your users/customers to deploy, and simpler to support.

    Disclaimer: my company (https://jidoteki.com) specializes in converting Installer-based applications into virtual machines (appliances). I’ll be happy to help if you decide to go in that direction.

  2. It gets worse too! Take a look at their UI for 2019! They’ve gone and added the ALL CAPS ribbon bar and an unclosable “Start Page”.

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