Why use a clean PC for capturing?
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Thinstall's Setup Capture application works by taking 2 snapshots for a PC's filesystem and registry before and after installation the target application. The Thinstall project is created using the differences between the two snapshots. We recommend using a clean PC to capture application installs because installers will skip files that already exist on the PC. If the installer skips files, they will not be included in the Thinstall project and the application may fail to run on other PCs where the files do not exist. Another positive aspect of using a clean PC is that SetupCapture can scan the PCs filesystem and registry very quickly when it is clean, typically in 15 seconds for a clean PC, but may take several minutres to an hour for non-clean PCs.

What is a clean PC?
A clean PC is a PC which has Windows base OS installed and nothing else. In a corporate environment where you have a base desktop image, the base desktop image is your "clean" PC. In such cases the back desktop PC may already have some components and libraries installed (for example .NET 2.0). When you capture a package on a PC which has .NET 2.0 already installed, .NET 2.0 will not be included in your package and the application will then only run on PCs which have .NET 2.0 already installed. We have a guide for installing VMWare Server (a free product) which can provide you with a clean environment any time you need it for capturing and testing purposes.

What version of Windows should I use for capturing?
We recommend capturing on the lowest platform you plan to support for your users. In most cases this will be WIndows 2000 or Windows XP. Most packages captured on XP will work on 2k, however in some cases Windows XP comes with some DLLs which Windows 2k does not have and they will be excluded from the package if the application normally installs these DLLs.

I'm a developer and my application changes everytime I rebuild, do I need to recapture it every time?
No. Once you have created the Thinstall project structure, you can overwrite files in the project with newer versions and then rebuild the application without the capture process. The process of compiling the application, copying updated files, and building a Thinstall EXE can be easily automated using batch files.