Troubleshooting & How-Tos

Google Drive insists ‘A newer version is already installed’ (Solved)

My Windows computer crashed while Google Drive was updating itself (or Drive for Desktop, Google File Streams, Google Backup and Sync or whatever they’re calling it this week), leaving a broken installation on my system. OK, Uninstall and reinstall, right? WRONG.

So I downloaded a fresh copy of GoogleDriveSetup.exe from Google, and went into Add/Remove Programs to uninstall the broken copy.

Windows couldn’t uninstall Google Drive because the uninstall.exe file was missing.

And the fresh installer wouldn’t reinstall because it insisted “A newer version is already installed” This is not an uncommon problem, it turns out, with variations like “A newer version of Google Drive is already installed,” “This version of Google Drive Files Stream is already installed,” “This version of Google Drive is already installed” and so on.

Five Ways that Didn’t Work For Me (But Might For You)

I found a lot of forums with didn’t-read-the-question replies telling people to uninstall and reinstall, despite the fact that the problem reported was that neither would work!

I tried everything in this Quora answer and many others, with no success. But they might work for you, depending on exactly how it’s broken in your case.

  • System Restore didn’t work. (It actually failed to restore - I don’t know if it would have solved the problem if it had completed.)
  • Manually removing the files in C:\Program Files\Google\Drive File Stream (or DriveFS depending on version). This was a pain because one of the DLLs was still being loaded by Explorer.
  • Removing my Windows account’s cached files in C:\Users\<myname>\AppData\Local\Google\Drive (or DriveFS).
  • Removing every last reference to DriveFS and GoogleDrive that I could find in RegEdit. There were a lot of them. Don’t do this unless you really have to.
  • Removing the Google Updater files from C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Update. Don’t do this if you have Chrome or other Google programs that might use it.

And of course lots and lots of reboots in between steps.

I did not add any third-party uninstall or cleanup tools, so I don’t know if they would have fixed it here.

Somewhere along the line, the icons on my Windows Taskbar disappeared. Not all of them actually…just the ones for programs installed through the Microsoft Store. I dug into that one, and found that it’s often fixed by…uninstalling Google Drive. *facepalm*

I tried to fix the taskbar, but the problem must have been caused by the Google Drive issues, because nothing fixed it until…

Success!

What finally worked? Installing Drive on another Windows system and copying the files over to this one.

  • Zip C:\Program Files\Google\Drive File Stream on the working system.
  • Copy the Zip file to the broken system and unzip it to the same location.
  • Look around in the folder for an uninstall.exe and run it.

That worked! It uninstalled Google Drive completely. I rebooted again and the taskbar icons were back too! And the installer worked to reinstall the program! Sure, it started syncing to a different folder than before, but that’s easy enough to fix. At least I assume it will be!

Hot Take

Any installer that checks to see whether the same or newer version is “already installed” should either be really thorough about what it’s checking, or offer to do a repair install anyway.