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What is a Silent Installation?

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  • Written By: Keith Koons
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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A silent installation is a method of installing software that requires no user interaction, including user information. It is also known as an automated or unattended installation, and it is used in situations where it is not necessary for the user to direct the installation process. The typical method of installing computer software is through a regular, prompted installation that computer users control from start to finish. Silent installations bypass all levels of user interaction by scanning for common options from a response file and completing the process without the user being notified. Since a silent installation is essentially automated, the results of the process typically must be double checked by the user.

Software manufacturers usually give the user flexibility in terms of how the software is installed on a system. The user gets a say in where the software is installed, what features of the software are included in the installation, and additional options as well. There are situations, however, where this might not be desirable. For example, a system administrator of a company might want a particular piece of software installed in a set way on all the computers in the establishment; in large businesses, this may encompass hundreds of individual machines. In such cases where user interaction during the installation process is unnecessary or undesirable, silent installation is used instead.

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During a silent installation, the computer manages to bypass user interaction by reading instructions that are coded within a response file. This response file contains replies to the prompts that the installer would get from the users input in a regular installation. There are two ways to generate a response file; by running the installer in ‘record’ mode or by manually typing out the response file. The former technique is often a popular and easy method of generating a response file, while the latter technique is typically only used by advanced users.

Since a silent installation is an automated process that bypasses user interaction and typically only follows whatever is directed in the response file, it is possible that errors or undesirable results could creep up. Whenever an installation is executed, the installer creates a log file that documents the entire process. This log file records whether the installation was successful or not and the nature of any errors that occurred during the process. After running a silent installation, users are advised to check the log file to ensure that the installation was performed in the correct manner.

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