Unable to install software -- Internal Error: Failed to expand shell folder constant UserAppData or UserDocs

Article FF12927, June 26, 2015

A Windows Registry edit (for moderate to advanced skilled Windows users) is needed to clear the way for a normal software installation.


This failure to expand a standard Windows folder that should be accessible to a great number of third-party software installers is a Windows OS configuration glitch. The probem is likely not the software getting installed but rather the issue stems from some Windows Registry settings that are not quite typical.

Click on Start and in the search box (or Run... box) type: regedit to select and run the Windows Registry editor

Be slow and cautious with all browsing and edits made in the Windows Registry: capricious or guess-work edits and deletions of Registry keys can possibly impair the ability of Windows to start up, damage your hard drive or other components, may critically impair your computer system. Any edits made are the responsibility of and solely at the discretion of you, the customer. Only make the changes discussed below and no other edits. If you are unable to find the Registry keys explained below or you are unsure about how to delete them, then do nothing whatsoever in the Windows Registry, exit the editor with no alterations made.

Navigate to this Registry path:

  HKEY_CURRENT_USER | Software | Microsoft | Windows | Current Version | Explorer | User Shell Folders

In the right hand pane, examine the registry key AppData. It must be set to %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming unless there are compelling reasons for the computer’s administrator to have it otherwise.

If the AppData setting is different, such as only %APPDATA%, then your Windows configuration has a pre-existing issue quite beyond the scope of our company’s software. Right mouse click and edit the AppData key at your risk to its proper typical value of %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming with no additional or alternative characters input.

Also along these lines, find the Personal registry key. Its proper typical value should be %USERPROFILE%\Documents unless the administrator of the computer had compelling reasons to set this otherwise.

And lastly under the Shell Folders section, note the registry key called Recent which typically has a value such as %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent

Right mouse click on the Recent registry key (under the Name column) and choose Delete from the context menu. (This key will automatically be re-populated later on after a computer restart.)

Close the Registry Editor.

Restart the computer.

Try the installation of the software again. Tell us if the problem is solved or if another error condition appears.