This topic describes installation options for Manifold Release 9 and Manifold Viewer, including the difference between Windows Installer packages and portable installations, and the details of Windows and hardware prerequisites.  To go straight to the illustrated, step by step installation topics, please visit:




A Manifold System Release 9 installation requires a Release 9 serial number with available activations.   If you do not have a Release 9 serial number you can procure a serial number on the Manifold Online Store.  All Release 9 serial numbers are x64, fully 64-bit serial numbers.


Manifold Viewer is a free, read-only version of Manifold Release 9 that does not require any serial numbers.


Manifold Server is a high performance, parallel, read-only, spatial database server.  It allows many Manifold users to share data that is published through Server.  Installing Manifold 9 Universal edition automatically installs a limited configuration of Manifold Server.  Installing Manifold 9 Server edition automatically installs an unlimited version of Manifold Server.  Manifold 9 Professional Edition, Manifold Viewer, and Manifold's SQL for ArcGIS® Pro products do not install Manifold Server.   See the Manifold Server topic for details.


Manifold Commander is a console application version of Manifold that provides the full range of Manifold query and scripting capabilities from a command line, making it easy to automate tasks.   Manifold 9 Universal and Manifold 9 Server editions include Manifold Commander.   Manifold 9 Professional Edition, Manifold Viewer, and Manifold's SQL for ArcGIS® Pro products do not include Manifold Commander.  See the Manifold Commander topic for details.


Important:  In 2022, after 20 years of supporting both 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Manifold products, Manifold dropped support for 32-bit versions.  The last base build for Manifold Release 9 that includes a 32-bit version is build 177.   The last base build for Manifold Release 8 that includes a 32-bit version is build 8.0.33.   Users who require 32-bit versions should use a 32-bit version of build 177 for Release 9 and a 32-bit version of build 8.0.33 for Release 8.  Base builds do not expire and are expected to be available as legacy downloads for a reasonable period of time.   See the product downloads pages for Release 9, Release 8, and Manifold Viewer for links to legacy downloads.


This topic discusses modern Manifold builds that provide 64-bit installations.   If you are using a 32-bit legacy Manifold build, see the discussion in the Legacy Installations topic.


Release 9 can be installed and used along with other Manifold products as follows:



Different types of Manifold System and/or Manifold Viewer installations can run at the same time.  For example, all at the same time we can launch 32-bit Manifold Release 9, launch a 64-bit Manifold Release 9 session, launch Viewer and also launch a manifold.exe from a portable installation folder, and we can do all that at the same time as launching a Manifold Release 8 session.


Once Manifold Release 9 has been activated on a computer, we can uninstall and install Release 9 as many times as we want on that computer and activation will be remembered, with no need to activate each new installation.  For example, we can install new updates to Release 9 (newer builds), or launch newer Release 9 portable installations on that machine.   Activation will be remembered so long as no major changes requiring re-activation have been done.  You can run the same license for years without re-activating, installing new builds as they are issued every few weeks.


When activating a Manifold 9 Server license, make sure to check the Install for all users (admin) box to activate the license for all users.  

Switching to a Different License

Once a serial number is activated on a machine, that serial number will continue to be used.  To change to a different serial number, for example, if upgrading a machine from a Manifold 9 Professional license to a Manifold 9 Universal or Manifold 9 Server license, the old license must be replaced with a new serial number that authorizes the new license.


To change the serial number and license in use, launch Manifold and choose Help - About and then press the Switch License button.   That will pop open the Activation dialog again so a new serial number can be entered.


The serial number in use on a machine can be seen by using the manifold.exe -showserial command line option.  That shows only the first eight characters of the serial number, but that is enough to determine which of several serial numbers we might have is the one in use on that machine.


To use Manifold in languages other than English, see the Localization topic.

Cutting Edge Builds / Base Builds

Manifold evolves very rapidly, with dozens of new features per week.   Some people always want the latest version, while others prefer to update less frequently.  To meet both needs, Manifold's Release 9 Download page provides both newer (Cutting Edge) and older (Base) downloads for Manifold Release 9:




Cutting Edge builds are recommended.  Frequent users and more advanced users always choose Edge builds. Edge builds are recommended for beginners as well, because step by step examples in the User Manual match Edge builds. Base builds do not match the latest and greatest info in the online user manual, which can be confusing to beginners.


After a series of Cutting Edge builds add many new features, Manifold publishes an updated Base build of Release 9.   Base builds are simply a way of announcing that so many new features have been added that, even for those users who prefer to upgrade infrequently, it is now time to catch up to all the new features and bug fixes.  Base builds are also an opportunity to publish Windows Installer versions of an installation package, for those people who prefer an old-school Microsoft approach to software installation.


Most Manifold and Viewer users will use Edge builds. Although Edge builds are technically "beta" builds, they have proven to be so exceptionally stable that everyone now thinks of them as the only thing to use.  This documentation tracks Edge builds, usually catching up to the latest Edge build before the next Edge build is issued.   Manifold documentation describes features that are found in Edge builds but not in Base builds.


New builds incorporate all that has gone before.  No need to install an older build before downloading and using the latest build.   No need to install an Base build before downloading and using the latest Cutting Edge build, or vice versa.


Important:  Cutting Edge builds are time-limited to operating  three months after they are issued.  Since new Edge builds come out every week or two, that is plenty of time to download a newer Edge build, but it does ensure that rapidly-evolving builds do not linger long after they are obsolete.   Edge builds expire on the first day of the third month following the build month.  


For example, an Edge build issued mid-August will continue working during August, September and October, and will expire on the 1st of November. One month or less before the expiration date, starting an Edge build will open the log window with a warning that the build will soon expire.  After the expiration date, attempting to start an Edge build will fail with a message the build has expired and advising the download of a newer build. 


The very lengthy expiration period saves us from worrying about an Edge build expiring if we depart for a two month vacation to a place with no Internet.  If an Edge build fails to launch, download and utilize whatever is the current Cutting Edge build.

Portable Installation or Windows Installer

Manifold provides two different ways to install Manifold, so we can pick the installation style we prefer: installations that utilize Windows Installer, and portable installations.  Both styles have advantages and disadvantage, and both styles of installation can coexist on the same machine at the same time.

Windows Installer Installations

Windows Installer is the classic way of installing software in Windows system: double-click an .msi or .exe package and a dialog steps us through an installation. Manifold uses .exe files to enable smoother updates of prerequisites, if required.  When done, the application becomes part of the Windows Start button system, usually automatically associating itself with file types that it claims.   Windows Installer was originally intended to make life easier for unskilled consumers.


Base builds can be installed Windows installer or as a portable installation.  The Release 9 Download page provides a Base build in the form of a pre-packaged .exe file that utilizes Microsoft's Windows Installer facility. Installation .exe files are published for 64-bit Windows systems.  Running the .exe installation file will perform an installation that installs require prerequisites, uninstalls older versions of Release 9, and then installs the new Release 9 package.


Advantages - Windows Installer is great both for unskilled consumers as well as skilled users in a hurry who want to install an application in the usual Windows way:



Disadvantages - Windows Installer's attempts to protect unskilled users from themselves can lead to complications:



For a step-by-step example of installation using a .exe installation, and activation that applies to either an .exe installation or a portable installation, see the Install and Activate topic.

Portable Installations

Portable installations are a fast way of installing software without messing about with Windows Installer.  Yay!  Portable installations require slightly more knowledge, but they allow us to have multiple different versions of the same product.  We can download and launch a new version without uninstalling an older version.    


A portable installation is just a .zip file.  The .zip file unzips into a set of folders containing Manifold Release 9, ready for immediate launch with no further installation required.  This completely avoids the Microsoft Windows Installer system and has no effect whatsoever on any previous version of Manifold that has been installed.  Portable installations are published both for Base builds and for Edge builds.   Edge builds are published only as portable installations.


Advantages - Portable installations do not use Windows Installer.  That says it all for many experienced Windows users.  Portable installations thus avoid all of the complications that can occur when measures intended to protect unskilled consumers from themselves go astray.  Unzip the portable installation to whatever location we want, even a portable USB drive, and then launch from that location and Manifold is running.



Disadvantages - Portable installations require some slight knowledge, such as unzipping a file, that a totally unskilled consumer might not have.  



Video: To learn how to install and run a portable installation, see the Manifold Viewer - Install and Run video.   Using a portable installation is the same basic procedure for either Viewer or Manifold Release 9.   Using a portable installation is easy.  Avoiding Windows Installer hassles is such a delight that many people, once they learn how to use portable installations, will prefer portable installations.


Activation of a portable installation is the same as activating an .exe installation.  See the Install and Activate topic.

Tips on Portable Installations

Portable installations are for all users who a) do not want to mess with Windows installer, and/or b) frequently update their Manifold package to the latest Cutting Edge build, and/or c) like having Viewer on a USB zip drive to use on whatever computer they happen to have at hand.    Cutting Edge builds of Manifold and Viewer are released only as portable installations.


Portable installations are self-contained zip files that do not utilize or otherwise interact with Windows Installer.  They provide a way to quickly launch Release 9 or Viewer without doing any Windows installation or having to remove a previously-installed Manifold package.  Users who want to try out Cutting Edge builds without altering their main Release 9 installation will use a portable installation.   Multiple, different portable installations can be run side by side so users can launch different Release 9 builds at the same time.


To use a portable installation download the .zip file, and unzip the file to create a folder hierarchy.   The 64-bit manifold.exe executable is in the top level installation folder.  


To launch Release 9, double-click on the manifold.exe file found in the installation folder hierarchy.  


Activation:  If Release 9 has been activated on that machine, then Release 9 will run from a portable installation without any further need to activate.   If Release 9 has not been activated, then on first launch the Activation dialog will pop open. and activation will be exactly the same as shown in the Install and Activate topic.   Viewer  does not use a serial number or activation, so no activation dialog ever pops open with Viewer.


Fast Launches of Portable Installations - People sometimes think the only way to get a fast, one-click launch of Manifold is to use a Windows Installer package, so Manifold can be launched from the Windows Start button system.  In contrast, with a portable installation it may seem the launch process is slower, since we have to open a Windows Explorer window, drill down into the portable installation hierarchy to find the manifold.exe file, and then double-click that to launch Manifold. But we can get the same, fast, one-click launch of Manifold from a portable installation.  There are three ways to do that.


System Requirements

Activation of Manifold products requires an Internet connection.  For routine operation, the computer must have at least some Internet connectivity from time to time, to allow occasional checks of license status.   See the Manifold Activation topic.


Manifold products are produced and licensed for true PC compatible hardware, running on the actual physical machine, and are not supported for PC emulators or virtual machines or other software which claims to mimic a real PC.  


Your hardware must support your proposed use.  For example, you must have 64-bit Windows running on 64-bit hardware in order to operate 64-bit Manifold.  You must have enough free space in storage to host the size projects you wish.   Available space and other resources must be configured sensibly to match the requirements of projects you wish to undertake.  For example, available user TEMP space should be three times the size of the largest data set to be processed.  See the  Performance Tips topic.


Release 9 and Manifold Viewer run on 64-bit Windows 11, 10, 8, 7 and Windows Server 20xx editions.  Release 9 explicitly supports Windows 11, and Windows 10 with no need to run in a Windows 7 compatibility sandbox within Windows 10.  Release 9 will use DirectX12 when run on Windows 11 or Windows 10 for improved display performance.   Manifold recommends Windows 11 or Windows 10.


Machines running Release 9 or Manifold Viewer must have the following Microsoft packages installed:



Release 9 and Manifold Viewer .exe installation files include C++ Redistributable and will install it automatically if required.  Portable installations (packaged as a .zip file) do not include the C++ Redistributable.  For links to .NET and Visual C++ Redistributable installations, visit Manifold's System Requirements web page.

Installing ODBC

The Manifold ODBC driver is automatically installed when installing Manifold using a Windows Installer installation package, but it is not automatically installed when running a portable installation.  When using a portable installation we must install the Manifold driver using the Help - About dialog.   We only need do that once for any given Manifold installation.  


If our login does not have Administrator rights, pressing the Update or Remove button to install or uninstall the ODBC driver will launch a dialog that allows us to proceed with Administrator rights.   



If the Manifold ODBC driver has not been installed, the Help - About dialog will have the Update button enabled.   Press Update.



The ODBC status will immediately switch to Installed, with the button caption changed to Remove.  Press OK.    

C++ Redistributable

Most recent Windows computers will already have Microsoft's C++ Redistributable package already installed.   For portable installations, if you do not have a recent C++ Redistributable installed on your computer, you must download and install the appropriate C++ Redistributable to run a portable installation.   See Manifold's System Requirements web page to get C++ Redistributable installation packages.



If any of the above is confusing, ask for advice from other users on the forum.   Do not give up on using Cutting Edge builds (which use only portable installations) because of one-time puzzlement that is easy to dispel.   

Connections to Microsoft Office Formats

Manifold uses Microsoft facilities to connect to all Microsoft Office formats, including legacy Office formats such as .db, .html, .mdb, .xls, and .wkx, together with newer Office formats such as .xlsx and .accdb.  If Manifold cannot import from or export to such formats, that means the Windows system we are using is missing the necessary facilities.  Please see the Microsoft Office Formats - MDB, XLS and Friends topic for a solution.   

Scripting, CUDA and External Libraries

Release 9 installations include CUDA to enable GPGPU (GPU parallelism).  There is no need to download or install other files to turn on GPGPU capability, although of course we do need GPU hardware as discussed in the GPGPU  topic.  In addition, we also get five scripting languages that are built-in, a side effect of Manfold's use of .NET.   Manifold Viewer does not support scripting so it does not provide any scripting languages.


External libraries are loaded using a common service. Libraries that are part of the operating system are loaded from system paths.   Other libraries are loaded from both system paths and Manifold paths. The results of loading are reported in the log with successful loads of system libraries reporting nothing, successful loads of non-system libraries reporting the full path of the loaded module (useful when there are multiple modules with the same name) and failed loads report errors both for failed loads of system libraries as well as failed loads of non-system libraries.

Installing Scripting Languages

See the Scripts topic for important information on scripting.


Five scripting  languages are always available for use in every Manifold installation without requiring any additional installation of any kind, because they are automatically available as a result of Microsoft .NET facilities that are required for any Manifold installation.


Two additional languages, IronPython and IronRuby, are automatically supported by the Command Window when they are installed (installation is easy).   Three more languages, F#, PerlScript and PythonScript, are supported when they are installed.  


Always available languages:



The above always available languages are provide by Microsoft COM/.NET, which are required for Manifold installation.


Additional languages built into the Command Window:



IronPython and IronRuby are supported by the Command Window just like SQL but they are not part of Manifold installations:  IronPython and IronRuby are installed separately.  See the Example of installing IronPython at the end of the Scripts topic.

Support for Popular DBMS Packages

In general, we need to install client software or a .dll file on the machine that is running Manifold to connect to databases.   IBM DB2, Oracle, and SQL server provide client software as discussed in the installation topics cited in the Databases topic.  


To connect to MySQL and PostgreSQL/PostGIS, or to turn on native SQLIte SQL query engine when connecting to GPKG or Spatialite / SQLite, we can download collections of necessary dll files from the Dlls for Popular Open Source DBMS Packages section of the Product Downloads page.  


Manifold includes built-in read/write capability for GPKG and Spatialite / SQLite data sources with no need to install any additional dlls.


System memory is cheap and our time is expensive.   Manifold is very fast and faster still with more memory.  We should load up our computer system with the most memory we can afford, ideally to maximum system RAM.  Larger memory is much more important than paying disproportionately more for a slightly faster processor.


TEMP storage space will be used if operations do not fit into memory available.  For maximum performance, specify the Windows TEMP location to the fastest local disk drive, for example, a fast SSD drive.


Large disk drives have become very cheap, while human time is getting ever more expensive.  Release 9 is designed to happily trade off making files and saved projects larger if that helps to improve performance and to make our work go faster.    Data sets often used with Release 9 are huge, with data sets in the tens of gigabytes size being typical.   When Release 9 imports and saves such data sets in projects the resulting project files will be even bigger.   


Invest in large disk drives that can store terabytes of information.   Big disk drives are not only cheaper for the storage they give, they are also faster than smaller disk drives.    Disk drives are so cheap we should always have at least two so we can configure RAID mirror storage for an automatic backup if a disk drive fails.


Anybody working with big data is likely to already have a reasonably powerful processor with at least four cores / eight hypercores and more likely eight or more cores.   If we can afford it, it doesn't hurt to buy a faster processor with many more cores.    Release 9 parallelizes just about everything so if we have more cores Manifold can usually put them to work for better performance.


There is no need to go crazy spending a lot of money to get just a slight increase in performance.   Instead of spending twice as much for a processor that has a clock rate only 10% faster than a less extreme version, put the extra money into more system memory and into larger and faster hard disks.  It is usually better to buy a cheaper processor that has more cores than a more expensive processor with fewer cores.


Release 9, including Manifold Viewer, uses GPUs for massively parallel computation, known as General Purpose GPU or GPGPU.  GPGPU capability requires installation of an NVIDIA GPU of at least Kepler architectural generation or more recent.  Since we must have graphics display in any event it is crazy not to have a GPGPU capable graphics card.   No need to overspend on GPU.   Virtually any sensibly middle-of-the-road GPGPU card will be fine.    For greater discussion of GPGPU use and configuration, see the GPGPU topic.



Why .EXE and not .MSI?  - Manifold Release 9 installations that use Windows Installer are .exe files and not the usual .msi files that are often used for Windows Installer installations.  An .exe file is used because .exe files allow the installation to perform preparatory steps,  such as installing C++ redistributables if required, that cannot be accomplished with an .msi.  Once those preparatory steps are accomplished the .exe launches an .msi file that is contained within the .exe so Windows Installer can go to work with that .msi.


Manifold ODBC Driver Version - The version number of the Manifold ODBC driver will be the equivalent of the version number of the Manifold build that installed it.  For example, if we have installed the Manifold ODBC driver using Manifold System Release 9 Edge build, the Manifold ODBC driver will be identified as version number   Manifold ODBC drivers installed by Cutting Edge builds will be identified as Manifold 9.0 Project Driver (Experimental) while Manifold ODBC drivers installed by Base builds will be identified as Manifold 9.0 Project Driver.


Legacy Builds - Manifold download pages provide current builds.  Newer builds fix bugs so it is important to work with the latest build.  If for some wild and crazy reason you think that in the future you will not want to upgrade to the latest build, make sure to save the installation file for whatever build has been installed, so that if a re-install is necessary you can work with an old and obsolete build instead of whatever wonderful new build is the current release.  Note that  tech support is available only for current builds, and not for obsolete legacy builds.


See Also

Manifold Activation


Install and Activate


Manifold Server


Using SHA Checksums


Activation Reference