Adobe CS5: Payload cannot be installed due to dependent operation failure

I just got this error while trying to install a few applications from the Adobe CS5 suite on a relative’s system today.

The installation would basically stop, and the following would show up in the installation logs:

WARNING: Payload cannot be installed due to dependent operation failure

After some research with no productive results I had to investigate this myself and after about 30 minutes I was able to pinpoint the cause by mere chance (or should I say, experience?); mostly due to past problems with Adobe products (Adobe Reader), as even though the error wasn’t the same — the solution was.

I tend to customize every OS I install, not only to suit my needs but also to calm down my data-loss and “what if he/she breaks the system afterwards” paranoia, so one of the very first things I do on my friends/relatives’ systems is to modify their “user folders”, mainly to ensure they won’t lose any data if they ever break Windows to a point where a fresh install is required.

Usually I create a partition within the same physical disk, assign a drive letter (usually D) and label (Data).
Most Windows users aren’t that technical, and despite having such partition available, they will still save everything under “My Documents”, so I had to figure out a way to force them to save the data into the designated folders. The solution was to map their folders to the D drive, so when they save their data to “My Documents” or any other user folder, they’re actually saving the data to the secondary partition that I have just created.

Everything usually works fine but for some reason that I cannot understand (I can but I cannot believe Adobe didn’t think about this), most of the Adobe products I install have a problem with this setup (even though Windows allows you to do this by default, it’s a feature).

The solution is quite simple, you either have to recreate the user folders in their default location (C:\Users\USERNAME), or to simply temporarily undo your home folder path customization, installing your Adobe applications and then redo your customization all over again.

If you opt for the first option, here is the list of folders that you’ll have to create/recreate in order to prevent Adobe’s setup from failing (due to a non-existing path):

  • C:\Users\USERNAME\Contacts
  • C:\Users\USERNAME\Documents
  • C:\Users\USERNAME\Music
  • C:\Users\USERNAME\Pictures
  • C:\Users\USERNAME\Videos

As for the rest of the user folders (Favourites, Saved Games, etc), they aren’t needed as the Adobe Setup won’ t try to access them.
Needless to say, replace USERNAME with your actual username. Then, reboot your system.

That should be it. Once those paths are accessible, the setup should complete without any problem.
If for any reason you’re still getting the same error after this, that probably means the issue isn’t the same so you’ll have to keep investigating it.

If  that’s your case, I strongly recommend you to try Adobe’ s Cleaner Tool  (especially when nothing else works):

Good Luck!

8 Responses to “Adobe CS5: Payload cannot be installed due to dependent operation failure”

  • I could have told ya that 🙂 It happens alot when even just trying to install Adobe onto another Drive/Partition, and having no want or need to have anything installed on the C drive which it forces. 🙂

  • Dusty: Yep, even though this is kinda “new” for me. I used to install all my apps in D: a few years ago (lost that habit) and this never happened. It looks like this started after CS5?

    Either way, it’s a bit amateur from Adobe…[ Read more ]

  • Tbh I’m not sure. I only started noticing it when you had two options.[ Read more ]


    Hey just wanted to say thank you for pointing this out; after some really annoyingly unproductive searching, I came across this. Low and behold, removing the custom paths from my pictures and documents folders worked! I can’t believe such a huge issue with this installation exists and is so difficult to find info on it. But as I said, I stumbled across this & it worked flawlessly. THank you!


    Oh, and I forgot to mention, I’m running Windows 10 Pro x64 with the docs & pics and some other folders redirected, so it looks like this problem still persists. Again, much thanks & Kudos man!

    • You’re very welcome, Spider!
      Yep, Windows 10 uses the same structure as Windows 7 but this isn’t even about that. The problem is on Adobe’s installer itself, so it really doesn’t matter which version of Windows you’re using, it will end up failing if the folders aren’t there.

      Oh well, let’s hope they get enough complaints to change it. 🙂

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