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Installing the Oracle Instant Client

by Ian Hoogeboom on April 26, 2010 · 6 comments

If you need an Oracle client to run SQL*Plus or for supporting a Third Party SQL-client like TOAD or similar, you could download an installation package of ~700 megabytes, install and configure the lot. However, an other option is the Oracle Instant Client. This package is about ~50 mb and does not need any installation!

Basic package

Everything you need to run your SQL application is included in the Instant Client Package – Basic from the download page, nothing more.

You actually don’t need to install the Instant Client, only download, unzip and run!

The steps it takes to ‘install’, taken from the Instant Client website:

  1. Download the appropriate Instant Client packages for your platform. All installations REQUIRE the Basic package.
  2. Unzip the packages into a single directory such as “instantclient”.
  3. Set the library loading path in your environment to the directory in Step 2 (“instantclient”). On many UNIX platforms, LD_LIBRARY_PATH is the appropriate environment variable. On Windows, PATH should be used.
  4. Start your application and enjoy.


To also highlight the word enjoy when using Net Service Names, I would like to add another step:

3b. Set the TNS_ADMIN and ORACLE_HOME environment variable to the directory in Step 2.

With the 700 mb client version, you get the option that the libraries will search for tnsname.ora in $ORACLE_HOME/network/admin/ or last but not least in the same directory as where oci.dll (if I remember correctly) is located. This is not the case with the Instant Client.


When you want to use SQL*Plus you need to get the extra Instant Client SQL*Plus package. This is not included in the Basic package. Just download from the same location and unzip to the same directory.

Other packages

Other Instant Client packages include:

  • JDBC support for XA transactions
  • ODBC support (unzip and run odbc_install script)
  • SDK (headers and make script for developing)
  • ODAC (provides access for Microsoft objects)

Missing tnsping

One major disadvantage of the Instant Client is the absence of tnsping when you only want to test  a connection to a remote listener using a Net Service Name. I really hope this will be included in future releases.


Before downloading, check the compatibility between the Instant Client and the Oracle Database version you are connecting to. Check the Database version compatibility and support matrix at the Whitehorses Blog or Note ID 207303.1 at Oracle Support.


Installing the Oracle Instant Client, 4.8 out of 5 based on 4 ratings
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

A.P. Allemekinders June 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Dag Ian,

Bedankt voor het whitebook over Instant Client.

Dankzij diverse forums heb ik een manier gevonden op de 32 bits en 64 bits client parallel te laten draaien op een Windows 7 64 bits machine.

Als volgt:

Installatie 32bit en 64 bit Oracle Client in Parallel op Windows 7 64-bit

Installatie 64 bit

Aanmaken map C:\Oracle\ic11gr2

Alle 64 bits zip files in de volgende map uitpakken naar map C:\Oracle\ic11gr2:

Kopieer de map incl. tnsnames.ora/sqlnet.ora vanuit een andere lokatie naar C:\Oracle\ic11gr2\network\admin

Aanmaken symbolic link:

Open Opdrachtprompt (Als Administrator uitvoeren)

cd \windows\system32
mklink /d ic11gr2 c:\Oracle\ic11gr2

Aanmaken omgevingsvariabelen:

LOCAL pzstaf
NLS_SORT binary
ORACLE_HOME C:\Windows\System32\ic11gr2
Path uitbreiden met: C:\Windows\System32\ic11gr2
TNS_ADMIN C:\Windows\System32\ic11gr2\network\admin

Installeer ODBC (deze versie wordt gebruikt door bijv. MS Office 2010):

Open Opdrachtprompt (Als Administrator uitvoeren)

cd \windows\system32\ic11gr2

odbc_install (De ODBC driver wordt in het register gezet: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ODBC)

start c:\windows\system32\odbcad32.exe

Aanmaken systeemDSN en test connection

Installatie 32 bit

Aanmaken map C:\Oracle\ic11gr2_32

Alle 64 bits zip files in de volgende map uitpakken naar map C:\Oracle\ic11gr2_32:

Kopieer de map incl. tnsnames.ora/sqlnet.ora vanuit een andere lokatie naar C:\Oracle\ic11gr2_32\network\admin

Aanmaken symbolic link:

Open Opdrachtprompt (Als Administrator uitvoeren)

mklink /d ic11gr2 c:\Oracle\ic11gr2_32

Installeer ODBC (deze versie wordt gebruikt door bijv. MS Office 2007):

Open Opdrachtprompt (Als Administrator uitvoeren)

cd \windows\SysWOW64\ic11gr2
odbc_install (De ODBC driver wordt in het register gezet: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ODBC)

start c:\windows\SysWOW64\odbcad32.exe

Aanmaken systeemDSN en test connection

Veel succes ermee en vr. groeten,

Aart Allemekinders
Provincie Zeeland, Afdeling POI

tel.: (+31) 0118 63 12 55
fax.: (+31) 0118 63 12 26


Edwig Huisman August 13, 2010 at 11:05 am

Beste Aart,

Gewelidge post!!. Net wat ik zocht!!

Twee vragen/opmerkingen:
1) Onder 32 bits installatie bedoel je toch “All 32 bits zip files” ??
2) De variabele LOCAL bij de omgevingsvariabelen ken ik niet. Is dat iets specifieks voor jullie organisatie of is dat iets ‘oracle-achtigs’?

Met vriendelijke groet,
Edwig Huisman


Aart Allemekinders August 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

Sorry, de omschrijving is niet helemaal juist. Ik bedoel inderdaad 32 bits zip files

De variable local bepaalt de default service name indien deze wordt weggelaten bij de connect.

Overigens heb ik inmiddels een manier gevonden waarbij de symbolic link niet nodig is.

Je moet dan de 64 bits software plaatsen in C:\Program Files\Oracle en de 32 bits software in C:\Program Files (x86)\Oracle.

De omgevingsvariabelen kunnen gewoon uitgaan van C:\Program Files, dus als volgt:

ORACLE_HOME C:\Program Files\Oracle\ic11gr2
Path uitbreiden met: C:\Program Files\Oracle\ic11gr2
TNS_ADMIN C:\Program Files\Oracle\ic11gr2\network\admin (of een ander pad zodat de sqlnet.ora/tnsnames.ora maar op 1 plek hoeft te worden onderhouden)

32 bits software zal nl. automatisch dit pad vertalen naar C:\Program Files (x86)

Veel succes ermee,

Aart Allemekinders


Harish January 22, 2016 at 8:15 am

Good day,
I am currently working on oracle BI and am not able to use the imp command in cmd to import a dump. It is displaying an error as command not recognized as external or internal command. Would like to know what your suggestion is to solve this problem.


Frank January 22, 2016 at 9:50 am

Could be anything. Is the Oracle software installed on your system? Have you checked the path settings? Maybe you could try the command from the console of the database server?
Good luck!


sachin January 22, 2017 at 11:25 pm

watch this video and its fair enough to set up the instant client easily .

I have done several times and moreover supported 1000 of servers easily.

you can subscribe the video to get more technical video.

Thanks, Sachin


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