A powerful script based Windows setup builder


Our rating: 

License: Free
Website: Inno Setup
Review & Alternatives: Best Free Setup Builder
Categories: Programming, Setup Builder

Pros & Cons:

compact and fast, many options
no GUI, script language to learn


InnoSetup is a powerful script based Windows setup builder. User interface is a syntax highlighting script editor. There is excellent help and samples available for the many options possible, however, scripting your setup is less comfortable than having a GUI to do so. There are third party GUIs available though. All in all my top pick in this category.

Publisher Description:

Inno Setup is a free installer for Windows programs by Jordan Russell and Martijn Laan. First introduced in 1997, Inno Setup today rivals and even surpasses many commercial installers in feature set and stability.

Our Review:

After looking at several other free products in this category, InnoSetup remains to be my top recommendation. It is not a tool for users looking for a GUI-based simple setup creator, it is more addressing those developers that want to have full control over their setup routine and are not shy of working with a text based configuration file.

InnoSetup was originally released in 1997 and has developed immensely since then. It surely beats many commercial contenders in this area and has proven to be very capable and stable.

InnoSetup's GUI is basically an editor/compiler for the configuration file that contains all your settings for the setup routine you are creating. The text file format is very similar to that of an INI file and thus less cumbersome to work with than with an XML file like in Ghost Installer Free.

The help file is excellent and well structured and makes it much easier to learn about the available settings. The editor supports color coding, making it more convenient to work with. I don't think I have to list all the features of a professional setup project but I did not find anything yet that InnoSetup wouldn't be able to support. Source files, target files, shortcuts, dialogs, license acceptance, signed uninstaller, custom forms and much more.

I have used it for several projects over the last years with great success (and no costs). If you like a GUI for this excellent compiler you can find several third party add-ons for that on InnoSetup's home page as well.

InnoSetup was reviewed by on based on version 5.5.5.