Installing and Updating X-Plane

How does the installer work?

The installer is a program that selectively downloads X-Plane components from network servers to get your installation of X-Plane updated to the current version. There is also a DVD installer that uses the X-Plane DVD as the installation source. That is how you do the initial installation of X-Plane and the global scenery from the multi-DVD kit. Both installers work the same way, and differ only in where they get the X-Plane component files from.

Note!! If you direct the installer to update your current version of X-Plane, it will overwrite it! If you want to keep the old version, see below for how to make a copy.

To begin installing or updating X-Plane, run the installer. Then...
  1. Select a download server. You'll see one or more download servers listed; click one. (This step is not needed when you're installing from DVD.)

  2. Select a destination folder. If you don't have X-Plane installed at all, create an empty folder and select it. If you're updating an existing X-Plane version, select it. Always select the top level X-Plane folder, usually named X-Plane 8.xx. Do not select a subfolder inside it! If you select the wrong folder, the installer will create a new demo install of the new version instead of updating the existing version. You'll have two X-Plane installs on your system and you'll be wondering what happened to all your scenery and third-party aircraft.

    On Mac OSX and Linux, install X-Plane into a folder that you are allowed to write into under normal circumstances.  X-Plane writes files, such as settings and data output files, into the X-Plane folder during operation. If you install into the OSX Applications folder, for example, and later repair permissions on your disk, the X-Plane folder will become unwritable and a whole variety of features will stop working.

  3. The installer will scan your existing install (if any) to determine what files need to be updated.

  4. Once that's done, it will tell you how much needs to be downloaded. Click INSTALL to start the process.
The installer has a list of all known X-Plane component files of the current version and all versions back to 8.00. The list includes a checksum of each file. In step 3, every file in your current X-Plane install and its checksum is checked against the list.
  1. If the file does not appear in the list, it is not a known X-Plane kit component and is left alone.
  2. If the file's checksum matches that of the current version in the list, the file is up to date and can be left alone.
  3. If the file's checksum matches that of an earlier version in the list, the file is replaced with the new version.
  4. If the file's checksum matches that of an earlier version in the list and there is no current version, the file is deleted.
  5. If the file appears in the list but the checksum does not match any known version, it is assumed to be modified. The installer asks you whether it should replace the file or leave it alone. (Note there are some errors in the checksum list, and there are occasions when you'll get an unwarranted "you have modified this file" messages. Unless you know you've modified the file and why, always tell the installer to overwrite it.)

I'm installing from DVD and the installer says it can't find a version of X-Plane to install

This problem is usually caused by having an X-Plane disc image mounted. Dismount the disc image and rerun the installer. Having an old X-Plane 8 DVD loaded in another drive will also cause the problem.

The network installer never finds any servers to download from

It keeps telling me "you need internet".

Temporarily turn off any firewall software you have running on the system - it can prevent the installer from making a connection.

This will also happen if you are on a company network that requires proxies to get to the web. There is a proxy setup feature in the preferences menu where you need to enter the network name and port number of the proxy server. Enter the same proxy information you have set up in your web browser.

The download is taking way too long!

You can cancel the install and try another server in the list. At any time, some servers will be faster than others.

What happens to my previous version of X-Plane?

It gets overwritten with the new version.

I updated X-Plane and the old version applications are still there

This seems to happen now and again with the X-Plane updates. Just delete the old apps. Don't try to run them. Every X-Plane update changes the resource files in various ways and the apps depend on them. If you try to run the old apps in an updated folder they will fail in mysterious ways.

I'd like to keep the old version around for now

Make a copy of the existing X-Plane folder before installing. Note if you've installed the US or world scenery or a bunch of add-ons, the copy will be rather huge. If you want, you can limit the size of the copy by excluding the  following major components.

If you originally installed with the single X-Plane 8 DVD with the first generation US scenery:
If you originally installed with the 7 or 8 DVD X-Plane 8 and global scenery kit:
It is important that you install the update into the folder with all components present, since scenery resources frequently get updated.

To revert to the older version, just move the folders you excluded from the copy back to the old version. (Updates to scenery resources should in general be compatible with the older version.)

Yuk! This is tedious. Can I just share the folders instead?

Yes, with limitations. Doing so requires command line access, is not supported by Laminar, and is not for the faint-hearted. If you're reasonably savvy with computers, read the detailed description.

Something went wrong and the update failed

Either... there was a network error and the installer stopped, or
the system crashed, or
I got impatient and cancelled it, or
X-Plane is just acting wierd after the update and I want to re-install.

Just run the installer again. It will discover what's already been done and pick up where it left off. If any X-Plane components are incorrect or corrupt it will discover and fix them.

Note! If X-Plane is acting wierd it might be a preferences a problem. Remember that if you're updating there's an old copy of your prefs in the Resources/Preferences folder. X-Plane should reset your prefs if they're from an old version, but this doesn't always work, especially if you're updating beta versions. The first remedy for strange behavior should always be to delete the prefs.

I updated X-Plane and my custom scenery textures disappeared

There are some custom scenery packages around that simply replace the terrain texture files in the X-Plane resource folders. This is a major no-no. The installer considers these files modified and will replace them with the X-Plane standard files (after prompting you). Even replacement textures can be handled as a custom scenery package, which the installer will leave alone. Ben Supnik has a tutorial on how to do this.

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