I was installing Service Pack 3 for Windows XP and suddenly it gave “Failed to install catalog files” error and interrupted process. I am big fan of figure it out method instead of classic nuke and reinstall Windows so took my time fixing it.
- error appeared during install process, after initial system check but before any changes were made;
- error appeared at creating system restore point stage which made issue even more weird because system restore was disabled;
- both offline install package and online update gave same error, excluding corrupted setup files.
After some googling I found extensive Microsoft Knowledge Base article aptly named You cannot install some updates or programs. Article covers numerous and quite different errors related to updates, as well as over ten suggestions on fixing.
There is no direct relation between specific errors and fixes so I had to read everything and figure out where to start. Most common culprits seemed to be cryptographic service and security catalog. Catalog stuff sounded like a closest match to error.
Steps to fix
Security catalog is part of Windows that handles digital signatures for updates, system file protection and other stuff. It resides in two folders:
- deleting CatRoot2 (safe operation as it is re-created by Windows on next boot);
- manual cleanup in CatRoot (not safe to delete) and other folders related to updates.
Exact steps I took for cleanup:
- Deleted CatRoot2 folder. Some files inside were locked by system so I had to use FileASSASSIN and schedule pending delete.
- Deleted all tmp*.cat files in CatRoot subfolders.
- Deleted all kb*.cat files in CatRoot subfolders.
- Deleted all oem*.* files in C:\Windows\INF folder.
- Deleted all files and folders in C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder.
After that SP3 installed perfectly.
Security Catalog is not known to cause much trouble but it can create issues. Cleanup is not as easy as with usual temporary files because deleting too much may break Windows Update completely.