Spectra Getting Started Guide

Installing Spectra

Installation Overview

Okay, let’s get started! Before you can use Spectra, it must be installed on each computer you want to run it on. The installation process will copy files and create settings based on your particular needs.

Before You Begin...

Read the Installation Instructions

Please read this entire chapter FIRST! Having a basic understanding of the Spectra installation process before getting started can save time.

Check the System Requirements

Make sure your system meets the minimum system requirements to properly run Spectra:

Operating System
Windows 7 (Pro or Ultimate), Windows 8, or Windows 10
Processor Pentium III
Minimum RAM
2 GB
Recommended RAM 4 GB
Hard Disk Space for Program Files
600 MB
Hard Disk Space for Data Files 5 - 20 MB
Monitor Resolution
1024 x 768 or better

Additional Requirements:

  • The Windows user must have local administrative rights on each computer Spectra is being installed on.

  • It is also a good idea to install with the User Account Control (UAC) turned on in Windows 7.

Download the Spectra Installer

You can download the installer from the Downloads page on our website. Look in the Current Clients section of the page for the most current installer.

Click Save to download the installer to your computer. Save the file to a shared network folder if you plan to install Spectra on more than one computer or workstation. Note: This step is simply getting the installer from our website to your computer. You can still use your current version of Spectra while the installer is being downloaded. There will be no changes to your current program until you actually run the installer (see the Basic Installation section below). Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, the download could take a while. If you are upgrading an existing version of Spectra, continue with the next step while the installer is being downloaded.

Back Up Data Files and Uninstall Existing Version (Upgrades only)

ATTENTION! If you are upgrading from an older version of StudioPlus Spectra, it is important for you to back up your database files BEFORE installing the new version! Open your StudioPlus Spectra folder (in Windows), click to open the Utilities folder, and then click Database Utility.  

  From the Database Utility, click Backup Data Files.

If you have a previous version of Spectra installed on your computer, follow the steps below to remove it:

  1. Open the Windows Control Panel and click Programs and Features.

  2. Highlight Spectra and click Uninstall.

  3. If you’re asked if you want to remove shared components, choose "Yes." 

  4. If you get a message indicating a certain file was not found, continue anyway.

Basic Installation

Note: If you are installing Spectra on a network, there are some additional installation steps. Follow the instructions in the Installing Spectra on a Network section below.

Close any other programs you may have running before starting the installation process.

  1. Find the Spectra installer you downloaded from our website and double-click to run it. The name of the file should start with "SPInstall." The full name will include the version number and release. For example, one of the file names for the version 2013 installer is "SPInstall130103.exe."  

  2. During installation, follow the prompts of the Setup Wizard, accepting the defaults provided.

    • If you want to try out Spectra by evaluating more than one edition (Express, Standard, and Professional), choose Free 30-Day Evaluation.

    • If you have already purchased a Spectra software license, choose Paid Product and then choose one of the following:

      • To run Spectra on just this computer, choose Single User. It's easy to add users later and then use the Database Utility to move your data to a shared location.

      • If you have set up a shared folder on your network, choose Network - First Workstation.

      • If you are adding a computer to your network that will use the already shared data files, choose Network - Workstation Add-On.

      • If you are reinstalling Spectra on a workstation, choose the Reinstallation option.

  3. When the installation is done, you will see a Start Spectra 20xx icon on your desktop, as well as in your programs list. Double-click Start Spectra 20xx to launch Spectra.

  4. When prompted, type in your studio name and other company information. Note: These fields can all be changed later EXCEPT your company name. Type in your studio name exactly as you want it to appear throughout Spectra, including reports, invoices, etc.!


    Your company name CANNOT be changed! Make sure it is spelled and punctuated correctly – this is how it will appear on your invoices, etc.

  5. Next you'll be prompted to provide the user’s full name and initials.   

  6. For the 30-Day Trial choice, the next page will prepare you to activate your product. If you're installing a paid product, you will be prompted to enter your product code(s) and you will be registered automatically.  

  7. Click Finish to complete your installation.

Installing Spectra on a Network


StudioPlus does NOT provide technical support for networking. We recommend using a local network hardware provider to set up and maintain your network.

About Wireless Networks: Technology is advancing all the time, but the farther a computer is located from the wireless access point (WAP), the slower the network connection will be. Wireless networking is also subject to interference from cell phones, wireless phones, microwaves, and other wireless devices. These can hamper (or even cut off) the network database connection, leading to poor performance at best and corruption of the database at worst. It is best to use a "wired" network whenever possible.


Preferred Network Operating Systems - If you are using Spectra on a network, these are the best operating systems:

  • Workstations:  Windows 7 (Professional or Ultimate), Windows 8, or Windows 10
  • Dedicated File Server*: Windows 2008 Server or Server 2012

*A dedicated file server is not required to run any of the single studio versions of Spectra on a network (Express, Standard or Professional). The only version that requires a dedicated file server is the multi-location Spectra Enterprise


Spectra does NOT support the following operating systems and they should not be used:

  • Windows ME
  • Windows 95
  • Windows 98
  • Windows NT
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista

If you are using any of these operating systems, your Spectra data may become corrupt! In addition, for optimal performance you should avoid using the following operating system(s):

  • Windows 7 Home Basic or Home Premium

To install Spectra on a network (in order to use the software on more than one workstation), make sure your network is properly set up and then follow the steps below. You will be installing the Spectra software on each of your computer workstations and your data files just on your server. If you don't have a dedicated file server, designate a specific workstation as your file server.


The first step is to set up a shared folder, one that all your workstations can access and write data to. You will need to do this whether or not you are using a dedicated file server. This shared folder is where your Spectra data files will be stored so each computer can access the same data files.

  1. Decide which computer you will be using to store your data files. If you have a dedicated server for your network, use that. If not, choose one central workstation for your data storage.


    Drive Mapping - For better administration we recommend mapping to the same shared drive from all your workstations. Use the same drive letter for the shared folder where the data files will be stored. Even the computer where the files reside should use a drive mapping of the same drive letter (not the "C:" drive; although the files may be physically on the "C:" drive, you will still need a separate mapping in order to be consistent on all the computers.)

    NOTE: If you are using the Spectra digital imaging features, this is a system requirement.

  2. Locate your shared folder or create a shared folder on a networked drive on the computer you have chosen.

  3. Then create a sub-folder for Spectra called “SpectraData.”


    If you are considering using a NAS device to store your Spectra data files, please read the "Network Attached Storage (NAS) and StudioPlus Spectra" knowledge base article before making any decisions. This type of storage could put your data at risk!

NETWORK INSTALLATION STEP 2 - Install Spectra on the First Computer

  1. On your first computer, go through the normal installation process as described in the Basic Installation section above. 

  2. When choosing the type of installation, select the Network - First Workstation option.

  3. Enter the multi-user product code(s) for the software you purchased. Note: You cannot install Spectra on your network if you have not purchased multi-user codes. Then register your software.

  4. You will be asked where you want to put the data files. Find the shared folder and select the “SpectraData” sub-folder you created in NETWORK INSTALLATION STEP 1.

  5. Complete the installation process on the first computer.

NETWORK INSTALLATION STEP 3 - Install Spectra on the Remaining Computers

  1. Go through the basic installation process on each of your computers.

  2. When choosing the type of installation, select the Network - Workstation Add-On option.

  3. You will be asked where the data files are located. Find the shared folder and select the “SpectraData” sub-folder you created in NETWORK INSTALLATION STEP 1.

  4. Compete the installation process on each computer.