A step by step (screenshots) tutorial for upgrading R on Windows


If you are running R on Windows you can easily upgrade to the latest version of R using the installr package. Simply run the following code:

# installing/loading the latest installr package:
install.packages("installr"); library(installr) # install+load installr

updateR() # updating R.

Running “updateR()” will detect if there is a new R version available, and if so it will download+install it (etc.). just press “next”, “OK”, and “Yes” on everything…

A GUI interface to updating R on Windows

Starting from installr version 0.15.0, the upgradingprocess can be done with a click-on-menus GUI interface. Here is how to use it.

Step 1: load installr

# installing/loading the latest installr package:
install.packages("installr") # install installr
library(installr) #load 

Step 2: pick “update R” from the new “installr” menu


Step 3: installr will check and detect that there is a new version of R for you – click “OK”


Step 4: if you wish to check the NEWS of the new R version – click “Yes” and a browser window will open up with this information


Step 5: if you want to download and install the latest R version, press “Yes”


Step 6: wait for R to download


Step 7: press “next” in R’s installation wizard


Step 8: wait R finishes to get installed


Step 9: Press “Yes” to copy your packages to the new R installation (press No, if you intend to use the “global R library folder” strategy)


Step 10: to keep package in your old R folder, press “Yes” (this is safest)


Step 11: wait while the packages get copied


Step 12: you can also have Rprofile.site be copied automatically to the new location


Step 13: you may press “Yes” to get update packages in the new R installation


Step 14: if you have a firewall, R may ask to get access to the internet


Step 15: while the packages are updated, you will need to wait. A hidden Rscript process will run in the background and update the packages


Step 16: once it is all done, you will be offered to quit R (sure, why not)



That’s it.


I try to keep the installr package updated and useful, so if you have any suggestions or remarks on the package – you are invited to leave a comment below, or report an issue on github.

39 thoughts on “A step by step (screenshots) tutorial for upgrading R on Windows”

  1. In my experience:

    In Windows 10 the packages copied from the old R are not allowed by Microsoft to be pasted into the new R.
    The subdir library in the new R is not writable and remains so during updating using the R-scripts.
    Therefore, the packages in the old R should be copied/pasted by the administrator self, carefully not overwriting existing new packages in the new R.
    All packages to be updated by R-script from within the new R can be downloaded in a C://?win-library and from there firstly unzipped and then copied/pasted by the administrator self into the new R library subdir

    I wonder if it works better using the installr menu in the Rgui R Console

  2. I followed these instructions got 3.4 installed, ran into an error with Rstudio and plotting. Backed up to 3.3.1 and now I cannot install packages from bioclite because I have lost write privileges. Essentially I am crippled and cannot continue to work. Do I uninstall all of R/Rstudio and start over? Any suggestions on how to recover would be appreciated.

  3. thank you very much for this. Very straightforward. No issues at all. I think the initial problems I had the previous times I tried doing this had to do with my Internet connection

  4. Hi,

    I installed and loaded the package but when I tried it and I got this error:

    updateR(install_R = TRUE)
    Errore in file(con, “r”) : non posso aprire questa connessione

    Error is in italian as I had a version in italian. It translates roughly to “Error in file(with, “r”): can’t open this connection”

    Any idea what it could be? (I’m on Windows 7, R version 3.0.2)

  5. Still a helpful article in 2019. Literally so useful and so straightforward. Saves a ton of work when updating R.

  6. Sorry, but I already failed the first step…
    “load installr”. Load installr where? And How? I am really at a loss on how to do this…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.