There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the process of how to update Prepar3D. While the geniuses at Lockheed Martin have created a super easy to follow instruction manual, the confusion regarding this process seems to run rampant on social media. I’m not sure why really. Perhaps it’s the reluctance of reading the manual or perhaps the manual just contains too much detail and not enough step-by-step-by-step guidance. In any event, I’m going to do my best to provide you a step-by-step guide for how to update Prepar3D. Or at the very least, how I update my own instance of Prepar3D.
About this guide
This step-by-step guide was written specifically for the Prepar3D version 4.2 to 4.3 update and written/published in late June of 2018. Lockheed Martin released P3D v4.3 on 25 June 2018. If you are referring to this guide anytime after version 4.3 (v4.4, v4.5 etc.) then this method should also work as well. Unfortunately my crystal ball isn’t working for peering into the future, so who knows how the update process will work for P3D v5 (if there is such a thing). What I’m trying to say here, is content on the Internet tends to live forever and you might be stumbling on this writing a year, two or more from the time I wrote it. Just keep that in mind.
The Update Process
Just a little background for those that may not be aware. I believe, starting with P3D v3.x, Lockheed Martin developed P3D to be somewhat modular in the way one can update and maintain the simulator. This modular setup consists of three main files with the first being the Client, the second being the Content and the third being the Scenery. When Lockheed Martin develops, tests and deploys an updated version to us, we no longer need to completely uninstall the entire P3D application just to take advantages of the updates. In many cases, only the “Client” portion of the update needs to be applied. But you should do your homework to best determine exactly what you need to update to take advantage of all the new bells and whistles available.
Prepar3D version 4.3 Change Log
To aid you in understanding all the changes included in the P3D v4.3 update, please follow this link. Use this information to determine what you want to update.
My Update Process
I’ve studied the change log and have determined my action plan. In short, I don’t see enough value add in the Scenery updates to worry at this time with updating. That’s really the beauty of this modular update system. However, I will of course update the client and also the content. If you are not interested in flying the six different versions of the C-130, then I suppose you can simply skip the content portion. But as I previously stated, my update plan is to update both the client and the content portion of P3D.
Make note of P3D Settings. Before I perform an update, I typically will start up P3D and take screen captures of all the settings screens. This way, if anything gets changed during the update process…I’ll be able to quickly reset everything back to the way it was before. I like to run P3D with the updated version with the same settings I ran on the previous version first, before tweaking anything. This way I have a better determination on just what improvements were made and how these improvements impact my setup.
Download the update files required. As I previously mentioned, I’m only planning to update the Client and the Content. So you’ll need to login to the downloads section of the Prepar3D website with your license or account credentials. Once there, click to expand the individual component downloads section and download the following four files: Install_Client.msi, Install_Content.msi, cont1.cab and cont2.cab. Once downloaded, I typically place all the files into a new folder I create on the Windows desktop for ease of access.
We’re going to uninstall one component at a time. I’ve found this to be the least error prone way of doing this. On your Windows gaming PC, go to Control Panel > Programs and Features. From here we’re going to uninstall the P3D Client ONLY.
When prompted “Would you like to deactivate your P3D installation?”, Click NO!
Next we’re going to install the updated P3D Client which we downloaded in step two. As previously mentioned, after I download all the appropriate files (in this case four), I create a folder on my Windows desktop and place all the downloaded files in that folder. Right-click on the Install_Client file and select Install.
Pay very special attention during the install to make sure the updated client is being installed in your specified P3D install directory. In my example, everything defaulted in just as it should have.
Return to Control Panel > Programs and Features and locate the P3D Content component and just as you did before, uninstall this component.
Again, as before…right-click on the Install_Content file and click Install. The Install_Content installer will automagically access the two cab files (cont1 and cont2) as necessary to perform the updated content installation.
Pending everything installed successfully, reboot your PC. While the P3D update/install files will not prompt you or even require you to reboot, it is ALWAYS in your best interest to reboot after installing software and we’re wanting a trouble-free upgrade…so just reboot! Trust me, I’m an IT Guy!
Once your Windows gaming PC has successfully restarted, launch P3D. Don’t be alarmed if P3D takes a little longer than normal to launch the first time. P3D is doing a lot of work behind the scenes and in my experience it took perhaps an additional 1-2 minutes than normal.
Once P3D launches, pay special attention to the screen below. If all was successful with your update, you should see the new “Add-ons” button at the bottom. If so, SUCCESS! Pat yourself on the back as you’ve just successfully updated P3D. At this point, I closed out of P3D as I still needed to perform a few other updates to software accessories such as ActiveSky, Envtex etc.
Additional Notes of Interest
I’m writing this just a little over 24 hours from when Lockheed Martin released the update for Prepar3D v4.3. At the time of this writing, third party developers are working hard to update all the various add-ons which required some level of change due to the new P3D update. Within just hours of the P3D update, ActiveSky, Chaseplane, Envtex/Envshade all had updates available for P3D v4.3. Once I updated these add-ons, these along with all my other 3rd party add-ons work including all my PMDG aircraft, QualityWings 787, A2A aircraft, Carenado aircraft and sceneries including Orbx, FlightBeam, FSDreamTeam etc. etc. all worked as expected. In other words, I did not need to reinstall any add-ons.
Benefits to Updating?
After I managed to get everything updated and launched P3D, I noticed a much faster load/launch time and I’m seeing a very slight increase in FPS performance. The amount of time it took me to perform the update process was about 15-20 minutes. But I can certainly understand ones reluctance to updating…especially if your current v4.2 setup is running stable. To my knowledge, no 3rd party add-ons at this particular time require version 4.3. However, if you’re an Aerosoft Airbus fan and are anxiously awaiting the release of the A318/A319 and A320/A321, then you may need to update to 4.3. But as the release date for the Aerosoft Airbus has been pushed to sometime in mid-late July, you have plenty of time.
Over the past 24+ hours I’ve seen a lot of frustration from others who have attempted to update P3D to 4.3. This is one of the reasons I decided to document my update process in the hopes it helps others. However, let me say this. My gaming PC is 100% rock solid. I was experiencing zero issues before deciding to update to v4.3. P3D v4.2 was stable and the only CTD I’ve experienced was caused by the wx radar in the QW787. If you’re experiencing issues with your gaming machine, if you’re experiencing issues with Windows on your gaming machine and especially if you’re experiencing issues with v4.2, then your upgrade/update process may not go as smooth as mine did. While this process is super simple (especially following my method), it won’t solve problems which exist in your system. These problems (what ever they may be) may result in a less than desired outcome.
I wish you the very best of luck. I truly believe if you follow my guide step-by-step as I’ve laid it all out, you’ll have the very best chance for a successful update. Again, the best of luck to you and I hope to see you in the virtual skies very soon.
Until next time….
P.S. After I have more time to spend flying in P3D v4.3, I’ll post an updated settings post. I don’t anticipate anything changing, but need to update the page anyway.