Software Installation/Un installation Testing

Have you performed Software Installation Testing? How was the experience? Well, Installation Testing (Implementation Testing) is quite an interesting part of the Software Testing Life Cycle.

Installation Testing is like introducing a guest in your home. The new guest should be properly introduced to all the family members in order to feel comfortable. Installation of new software is also quite like the above example.

Software Installation_Un installation Testing

If your installation is successful on the new system then a customer will be definitely happy but what if things are completely opposite. If an installation fails then our program will not work on that system not only this but can leave a user's system badly damaged. A user might require reinstalling the full operating system.

In the above case will you make an impression on a user? Definitely not! Your first impression to make a loyal customer is ruined due to incomplete installation testing.

What do you need to do for a good first impression? Test the installer appropriately with a combination of both manual and automated processes on different machines with a different configuration. Major concerned of installation testing is Time! It requires a lot of time to even execute a single test case.

If you are going to test a big application installer then think about the time required to perform such many test cases on different configurations.

We will see different methods to perform manual installer testing and some basic guideline for automating the installation process.

To start Installation Testing first decide on how many different system configurations you want to test the installation.

Prepare one basic hard disk drive. Format this HDD with the most common or default file system, install the most common operating system (Windows) on this HDD. Install some basic required components on this HDD.

Each time creates images of this base HDD and you can create other configurations on this base drive. Make one set of each configuration like Operating system and file format to be used for further testing.

How can we use Automation in this process? Well, make some systems dedicated to creating basic images (use software’s like Norton Ghost for creating exact images of the operating system quickly) of the base configuration. This will save your tremendous time in each test case.

For example, if the time to install one OS with basic configuration is said 1 hour then for each test case on the fresh OS you will require 1+ hour. But creating an image of OS will hardly require 5 to 10 minutes and you will save approximately 40 to 50 minutes!

You can use one operating system with multiple attempts of installation of the installer. Each time uninstalling the application and preparing the base state for the next test case. Be careful here that your uninstallation program should be tested before and should be working fine.

Installation Testing Tips with some broad Test Cases:

#1) Use flow diagrams to perform installation testing. Flow diagrams simplify our task. See example flow diagram for the basic installation testing test case. Installation testing

Add some more test cases on this basic flowchart Such as if our application is not the first release then try to add different logical installation paths.

#2) If you have previously installed a compact basic version of application then in next test case Install the full application version on the same path as used for the compact version.

#3) If you are using flow diagram to test different files to be written on disk while installation then uses the same flow diagram in reverse order to test uninstallation of all the installed files on disk.

#4) Use flow diagrams to automate the testing efforts. It will be very easy to convert diagrams into automated scripts.

#5) Test the installer scripts used for checking the required disk space. If the installer is prompting required disk space 1MB, then make sure exactly 1MB is used or whether more disk space utilized during installation. If yes flag this as an error.

#6) Test disk space requirement on different file system format. Like FAT16 will require more space than efficient NTFS or FAT32 file systems.

#7) If possible set a dedicated system for only creating disk images. As said above this will save your testing time.

#8 ) Use a distributed testing environment in order to carry out installation testing. The distributed environment simply save your time and you can effectively manage all the different test cases from a single machine.

The good approach for this is to create a master machine, which will drive different slave machines on the network. You can start installation simultaneously on a different machine from the master system.

#9) Try to automate the routine to test the number of files to be written to the disk. You can maintain this file list to be written on the disk in an excel sheet and can give this list as an input to an automated script that will check each and every path to verify the correct installation.

#10) Use software’s available freely in the market to verify registry changes on successful installation. Verify the registry changes with your expected change list after installation.

#11) Forcefully break the installation process in between. See the behavior of the system and whether the system recovers to its original state without any issues. You can test this “break of installation” on every installation step.

#12) Disk space checking: This is the crucial checking in the installation-testing scenario. You can choose different manual and automated methods to do this checking.

In manual methods, you can check free disk space available on the drive before installation and disk space reported by installer script to check whether the installer is calculating and reporting disk space accurately. Check the disk space after the installation to verify accurate usage of installation disk space.

Run a various combination of disk space availability by using some tools to automatically making disk space full while installation. Check system behavior on low disk space conditions while installation.

#13) As you check installation you can test for uninstallation also. Before each new iteration of installation make sure that all the files written to disk are removed after the uninstallation.

Sometimes uninstallation routine removes files from only last upgraded installation keeping the old version files untouched. Also, check for rebooting option after uninstallation manually and forcefully not to reboot.

I have addressed many areas of Manual as well as Automated Installation Testing procedure.

Still, there are many areas you need to focus on depending on the complexity of your software under installation. These not addressed important tasks includes installation over the network, online installation, patch installation, Database checking on Installation, Shared DLL installation and uninstallation, etc.

Hope this article will be a basic guideline to those having trouble to start with Software Installation Testing both manually or in automation.

If you like this article you would also like to subscribe to our email newsletter.

Recommended Reading

84 thoughts on “Software Installation/Un installation Testing”

  1. This is one of the best articles I have ever read. Well documented, to the point, explained in simple terms.

    Good work.

    I would like to ask one question here:
    What do you mean by “distributed testing environment” ?
    Could you please explain the above term?

    Thanks in advance. Nice article.

  2. @Sameer – You can refer article on test cases, How to write effective test cases here –

    @ Ajay – Distributed testing environment generally includes more than one machine for testing. These different machines communicate with each other to perform specific task. Here we can take example of Installation testing, In installation testing you can use one master machine which can simultaneously trigger multiple installations on different slave machines on network and can collect the installation test result in single file.

  3. Very good information about installation/uninstallation of software testing. Defintley if increases my knowledge about this kind of testing. I will be using flowdiagram for testing in future . Thanks

  4. i have a doubt i am starting my career as a tester so please help me by answering simple questions
    Is sql server necessary to learn?
    Should we have knowledge on unix?
    Is it necessary to have knowledge on oracle?
    we have to gain deep knowledge on these platforms or is it sufficient to have littile knowledge?
    if yes please suggest me how to get knowledge on those databases?
    I cannot effort money for classes so suggest me any book or weblink to learn them.

    please mail me to

  5. hi,

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read.
    Well documented, to the point, explained in simple terms.Its very nice article, having lot of knowledge.
    i get lots from it.
    Currently i am working as s/w engineer for past 7yrs in IT. But i want to switch to s/w Testing as career seriously. So just tell me whether i am on right track because company may ask for exp in testing and i have theoritical knoledege and some practicle exp while doing course. I am individually developed s/w for our company and do all the required debugging/testing/releasing of s/w own.
    i am currenlty in Mumbai
    email id :

  6. Ajay,
    A more better example for “distributed testing environment” can be a mailing system. A truly distributed system. It uses multiple Routers, databases, frontend interaction application. Just think of a mail sent by you and recieved by your friend, where all it will pass through and how it will reach the destination.

    Release: Is done once you reach the milestone, release can be an interim release, internal release, release to a market, release to the client for beta testing etc.
    Ex: Mysql 5.0.45
    While developing a software we have some short term milestones, or say once developers develops a software you get to test it, (build1) he fixes the bugs and give it for regression (build 2), again some bugs are fixed (build3) and so on. This build might not be released, but will definately have a numbers to keep track of. For more clear understanding, google “Software Configuration Management”, as many of us might not be aware its also very important profile in S/W industry just like, dev, test, s/s admin etc..

    Regards, Suhas.

  7. Very good article. Also please give me more information on database testing and also if possible please provide me some links/books where I can get more knowledge on database testings and database concepts.

  8. one more point i want to add here is while installing the software it has to show the default path for example “c:\documents\settings………..

  9. an one more thing it need to be installed only were the programming files are there or can i allocate some other drive for it?if i need to do?

  10. It’s a Very good article which covers different methods of Instalaltion Testing in brief.It’s very informative.

    Thanks for very nice article.

  11. Hi Swati,

    Automation framework is tool box for automation engineer who is creating automation suite. Anything that helps in the mission – is part of framework. It could be set of documents (guidelines) or Set of code components (vbs file or dll file etc) or a full-fledged software like an automation tool.

    Some links for framework …


  12. You can use Virtual Machines (VM images) for this type of testing. Virtual PC lets you create separate virtual machines on your Windows desktop, each of which virtualizes the hardware of a complete physical computer. Use virtual machines to run operating systems such as MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2. You can run multiple operating systems at once on a single physical computer and switch between them as easily as switching applications—instantly, with a mouse click. Virtual PC is perfect for any scenario in which you need to support multiple operating systems, whether you use it for tech support, legacy application support, training, or just for consolidating physical computers.

  13. And also here we can cover more scenarios like,
    1) Attempting the installation without having pre-requisites on the system
    eg, Your application needs IIS to be installed on your machine, but you try to install the application without IIS installed and see the behavior.
    2) Try to install the application in diffrent paths on your machine (with the choice of customer)
    Eg, Install on C:\program files would be the default one, now try with different things like d:\Test or F:\Test
    3) Some of the installations may need administator (user) permissions, try with this one as well, I mean try with Administrator rights and without Administrator rights as well.
    4) After completion of the installation check all the componets like, services, event log entries, registry entries etc have been installed properly.

  14. I read most of the articles in my free time …really it is worth reading …. cleared lots of testing concepts,covered every area of software testing …very useful for my testing career :)

  15. I want to learn testing and was confused how to start and from where. but this article really helped me in introducing me to the complete out scketch of testing. Really appreciatable. Thank u so much.

  16. Please share some thoughts regarding the iPhone native application testing in detail, expecting a research and findings from vijay or any domin experienced hands and please include Mac application testing tips.

  17. @sudha
    after product is released in market and if the piece of s/w is having somr BUG/SOME minor enhancement then that could be done using PATCH..
    u could think service pack 2 of windows as a patch(not 100%)

  18. Hi vijay,
    I m new to this site and i found it full of knowledge, up 2 mark description. It helps me a lot in my testing carrier.

    Thanks and Keep it up

  19. Hi Vijay,

    This is really a nice article. I am working in Software Install Test team for last three years. The article you have provided has also given me some ideas of exploring new test areas. Thanks a lot. Keep up the good work.


Leave a Comment