Troubleshooting SQL Setup Failures

  1. The Setup Logs for SQL Server 2005 are created in the following location
    “(system drive):\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Setup Bootstrap\LOG” 
    There are two folders underneath this location:
    a. Files
    b. Hotfix
  2. The files under the Files folder are created during the RTM installation of SQL Server 2005
  3. The files under the Hotfix folder are created during Service Pack/Hotfix installation
  4. For every failed setup of SQL Server 2005, there will be a .CAB (Cabinet file) created under the Files or Hotifx depending on what installation you are performing: RTM/Hotfix/Service Pack installation
  5. Also, the LOG folder would have a summary.txt file which would give a brief overview of which component(s) failed to install
  6. SQL Server 2005 uses MSI to install the components. For RTM setup, we use .MSI files and for patches, we use MSP files. The error # that you see in the setup summary.txt file would be present in the associated MSP or MSI log along with extended information of which function was being called. Eg. If setup fails during the configuration phase, then you might get the connectivity errors related to the attempts that setup made to connect to SQL Server. This would further provide some more hints to troubleshoot the issue
  7. Using the Error Number and the Component Name, find out if you come back with any helpful links from
  8. If you are getting nowhere, then please post a question on the MSDN/TechNet Forums (Setup and Upgrade) or open up a support incident with Microsoft Product Support Services

Please refer the following for more details:

Another comprehensive blog post which talks about SQL Server 2005 Setup Logs:

SQL Server 2000 Setup Failures
The setup logs for RTM installations for SQL Server 2000 are installed with the following log sqlstp.log getting created in the %windows% folder.
The Service Pack setup logs are created having the following filename sqlsp.log under the same location specified above.
However, the hotfix logs are created with the following prefix “KB***.log

SQL Server 2000 setup doesn’t create multiple setup logs. You can use sqlstp.log (RTM setup) or sqlsp.log (Service Pack setups) or KB*****.log (Patch setup) and look for “return value 3“. If an action specified by a setup function errors out, then it prints the Return Value as 3 in the setup logs.
The drawback with the SQL setup logs for SQL Server 2000 is that the setup logs get overwritten every time setup is run. But in SQL Server 2005, this is not the case. All the logs are retained in the BOOTSTRAP folder and a new set of log files are created with incremental numbers in the same location.