Self Extracting Archive (SFX) files are archive files (like .ZIP or .RAR files) that have been converted to .EXE files that can run on any Windows computer. The appeal is obvious – if the IT department needs to send out an “emergency patch” for a home-grown application, they can convert a ZIP or RAR file to an EXE file that doesn’t need WinZIP or WinRAR installed. The user doesn’t have to do anything other than double-click the EXE file to extract the contents.

Us IT folk have to put a SFX file together every so often. Most of us have our favorite programs for doing this. I prefer the old, trusty WinRAR. Others prefer WinZIP. Programmers may require something more powerful, like Advanced Installer or a Nullsoft Scriptable Install.

But what do you do when you don’t have access to your favorite SFX creator?

You might not know this, but Windows has one built right in: IEXPRESS.EXE. Click click Start > Run and type iexpress.exe and press the ENTER button. An IExpress installer can extract files only or extract files then run a command. You can also customize your installer with custom titles, EULA screen and final dialog boxes.

You might find IEXPRESS lacking some of the more advanced features of other installers, but it sure could come in handy in a pinch!

Click here to read more about IEXPRESS at TechNet.

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