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QGIS Standalone installer suggests a default installation location like c:\Program Files\QGIS Wien, including version name in the path. Does this mean the recommended way to update to a new version would be to uninstall the old version, and then install a later version? Or can we just as well install a newer version on top of the previous version? (in which case it makes more sense to change the location to e.g. c:\Program Files\QGIS).

  • Not completely sure but you can keep multiple major QGIS versions (e.g. QGIS 2.8.x, 2.10.x, 2.12.x etc) in different locations. In terms of minor QGIS versions (e.g. QGIS 2.8.1, 2.8.2, 2.8.3 etc), I think the older version must be deleted before the newer one can be installed as you don't receive an option to define another path. – Joseph Mar 2 '16 at 15:07
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On Windows delete it and install the new version. Or you are going to run into dependence issues. Do not run two versions of the program on the same machine. If you want/need two versions run a VM.

  • So, I've tried it out, and major versions are recognized as separate programs by Windows. So I think the typical usage would indeed by to uninstall the old, and then install the new version (and that overwriting/updating would be a bad idea). But since they are separate programs, installed to different locations by default, running two versions should be fine, as suggested by @Joseph. – arjan Mar 3 '16 at 15:59
  • Or use the OSGeo4W installer, which will update the current install. – HeikkiVesanto May 4 '16 at 8:37
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I have all major versions since 1.8.0 Lisboa running on the same computer, without any interfering. It just might be that older versions do not work with current plugins, since these are not stored separately as the binaries are, but all together in your user/.qgis2 folder.

You can double-click the .../apps/qgis/bin/qgis.reg file to tell the registry which version should be used when double-clicking on a .qgs project file.

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I would allways recommend to use the OSGeo4W installer (http://trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w/) which cares for all dependencies. And I never had problems running more than one (major) version on the same machine, even using the standalone installers. I allways install the latest version and ltr version.

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Although the other answers provide useful information, I'm adding my own anser to address specifically the question of the install location:

Major QGIS versions installed via standalone installer on Windows are identified as separate programs (e.g. QGIS Essen, not just QGIS), so they should not be overwritten/updated in-place. (While the program would probably run - I tried - you might run into problems, and it also messes up the software registry because now Windows thinks there are two programs installed in the same location).

As Jochen's answer indicates, installing multiple versions via standalone installer (in separate directories) should just work. I haven't seen any problems with it, though risail's answer says you might run into dependency issues.

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