61286: Fixing encoding issues in unreadable MSI logs

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    Last update: 19-04-2018


    Troubleshooting installation issues often requires reading logs of Microsoft Installer (MSI), plain text files with .txt, .msi.txt or .log file name extension. If you follow our KB article on analyzing MSI logs https://kb.acronis.com/content/1647, you usually need to find Return value 3 in the MSI log, Rückgabewert 3 or other localized versions of "Return value 3", to find out more details on why the installation failed with an error or froze in the middle.

    This article explains how to fix the issue with incorrectly encoded characters in the MSI log:

    The log on the picture above was originally saved on a computer running in German language, however, as you can see, many characters are Chinese, unexpectedly.

    Following the steps below will give you the final result looking like this, without the need of re-capturing the MSI log:


    Suggested solution involves using the following software:

    1) Microsoft Word, part of Microsoft Office suite.

    2) Notepad++ free text editor


    1. Right-click the MSI log file and select Open with...

    2. Find Microsoft Word in the suggested list of applications and select it, then click OK to confirm:

    2. Microsoft Word will open, automatically detect a problem with encoding and will offer to choose an encoding:

    3. Click "Windows (Default)":

    4. Chinese characters should disappear and you should see square characters in between normal letters:

    5. Click OK:

    6. The document will open:

    7. Open File menu and select "Save as" option. Do not confuse it with the "Save" option:

    8. Choose any folder, for example, the current folder:

    9. Specify a different name in the "File Name" field, for example, add "FixedEncoding" before the .msi part of the file name:

    10. Add the .txt extension to the end of the file name (otherwise the file may be saved with a wrong file name extension):

    11. Click Save:

    12. Microsoft Word will again ask to configure the file encoding options. You should still see square characters and normal letters in between:

    13. Do not modify anything in this dialog window, otherwise the produced file will become totally unreadable.

    14. Click OK to save the new file:

    15. Close Microsoft Word

    16. Right-click the created new file and select "Edit with Notepad++":

    17. Select any square character and press Ctrl+C to copy it:

    18.Press Ctrl+F combination on keyboard or press the binoculars button to open the "Find" dialog box. The square character will be pasted automatically into the "Find what" field:

    19. Switch to the "Replace" tab:

    20. Click the option "Extended" under the "Search Mode" section. Type \r in the "Replace with" field:

    21. Click "Replace All":

    22. You should see a large number of occurrences replaced in the status bar:

    23. Close the dialog box.

    24. Press Ctrl+S combination on keyboard or click the diskette button to save the changes:

    25. Close Notepad++

    Now the file contents will be correctly displayed in any editor, including the built-in Windows Notepad:

    The issue with encoding has been fixed.