Visual Studio/Installation

Installation of Visual Studio depend on the version you use. Previous versions of Visual Studio were typically easy to install, as they had few choices for the user to make. However, for Visual Studio versions from 2017 onwards, its component-based nature means that the user is suddenly faced with hundreds of options to choose what to install, as it isn't economical or even sensible to just install everything.

The wrapperEdit

When you download VS 2019 or VS 2017, you're greeted with a message which might make you think that it's already installing...


...while in reality it's just an installation wrapper which is now downloading the actual installer. Just wait.

While it might seem that the VS 2019 and VS 2017 installers are the same, they aren't. However, one can manage VS 2017 installations from the VS 2019 installer (but usually not the other way round).

The installerEdit

Once the installer itself is installed, you'll be faced with this screen:

Basic workloadsEdit


As you can see, Visual Studio has already selected a default list of options, which generally won't suffice for most. What workload you need depends on the type of development work you expect to do. For example, if you plan to make console C++ programs, you should select the Desktop development with C++ workload. The basic workload options are pretty self-explanatory.

But the default workload options may not be enough. For instance, you may want to develop programs for an old version of .NET Framework or want to include a specific debugging feature. That's where the Individual components options come into play:

Customizable optionsEdit


As you can see, there are a lot of options to choose from! While many of them would have already been selected, you may find that you need some more. Select all that you need. Remember to be judicious; selecting unnecessary options will waste space on your computer and potentially increase data charges.

You also have the option of changing the language in the next screen.


Once you are done with your options, just click Install. VS will download and install the components at the same time to save time, so you cannot simply disconnect the internet before the installation is complete (unlike VS 2010). If you want to download the required components before installing, you can either

  • Select the option to download before installing (for VS 2017 onwards)
  • Use the command line using the /layout switch (see here on how to do this)

For VS 2017, the second option is very complicated and is not easy to configure. However, for VS 2015 and before, the second option is easy to use and you may wish to use this option if your internet connection is slow or unreliable.

During the very first installation of a Visual Studio product after VS 6, you are given the option to choose the location of the tools and the main IDE. While you shouldn't generally have to tinker with the default options (except when, for instance, you are installing VS into a secondary drive to save space), once you make your very first installation, you cannot change them later, even if you later uninstall the first Visual Studio product you installed.

For Visual Studio 2017/19, you can change the location where the installer downloads the files for installation, and you can also delete them after the installation is complete. However, this is not required; the installer uses these files if a reinstall is required.



The VS 2017/19 installer will automatically check for updates on start-up, and will force you to update it if it detects that a newer version exists.


Before Visual Studio 2017, updates need to be installed manually or through Windows Update.

From VS 2017 onwards, the installer will check for updates and will notify you if there is a newer version available. This is also the case in the program itself, and VS 2019 may download any updates in the background and then prompt you that it is ready for installation. However, (especially if the update is minor, and with a reasonably fast PC), updates finish quite quickly (in seconds) in most cases.