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Updating Unreal Engine for Optimal Performance

Screenshot of the Quixel Bridge interface

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When a new version of Unreal Engine is released, each user has a decision to make about if and when they should choose to update their installation.

As a general rule, you should never update any software in the middle of a project. This applies to everything from your OS to your specialized filmmaking software and everything in between. Unreal Engine is no different in this respect; updating between projects is always the recommended timeframe.

How to Update Unreal Engine

Screenshot of the UE 5 update available

Updating Unreal Engine is simple. If an update is available, you’ll see a yellow “update” button appear on the currently installed version of UE.

But wait!

Before clicking the update button, take a look at the other options below such as installing an alternate version so that you remain as flexible as possible.

Minor Updates vs. Major Updates

Generally, Unreal Engine maintains good backward compatibility between minor updates, meaning you should be able to open projects created in Unreal Engine 5.1 in Unreal Engine 5.2, for example.

However, it’s important to note that certain new features or changes in the newer version might not be compatible with your older project or might change how certain aspects of your project function.

Major updates, such as from UE 4 to UE5, involve a much larger change to the engine and could render your project unopenable or require you to make major changes. It is important to approach these updates with the proper amount of care.

When You Should Update

If you’re looking for optimal performance, it’s important to keep up with the latest updates from Unreal Engine when they become available. Every new update brings with it bug fixes and possibly performance improvements that can help keep your projects running smoothly and efficiently.

Updates also arrive with new features, so if you need a specific feature to complete your project or plan on taking advantage of the latest advances in technology, then updating is essential for getting the most out of Unreal Engine.

When You Shouldn’t Update

If you’re in the middle of a project, the most important thing is to make sure that your project is completed on time and as expected.

It’s best to avoid updating Unreal Engine during crunch times when you have tight deadlines looming. Even if the update promises bug fixes and performance improvements, you risk getting caught up in technical issues or incompatibilities that can delay your project even further.

Preparing to Update

If the new features or improvements offered by an Unreal Engine update are so promising that you feel compelled to perform the update, then make sure to take the necessary precautions before you begin.

To ensure a smooth transition, consider these steps:

  1. Backup: Always back up your project before performing the update. This allows you to revert to the older version if anything goes wrong.
  2. Clone: You may want to clone your project and attempt to open the clone in the new version first. This way, your original project stays in its original form in the older version of Unreal Engine.
  3. Read the Documentation: Carefully read the change logs and update notes for the new version of Unreal Engine. This will let you know if there are any major changes that might affect your project.
  4. Testing: After upgrading, thoroughly test your project to ensure everything is functioning as expected. Check for any deprecated features, altered functionality, or unexpected behavior.

By taking the right steps when updating Unreal Engine, you can maximize performance and keep your projects running smoothly.

Keep Previous Versions of Unreal Engine Installed

There is no need to update old projects unless you truly want to. It is very simple to install multiple versions of UE in parallel assuming you have the storage capacity.

How to Install an Alternate Version of Unreal Engine

To install an alternate UE version, simply click on the yellow plus (+) button next to “Engine Versions” in the Epic Games Launcher.

This will create a new engine version, which has a drop-down option to select the version you want to install. For example, you could actually install an old version if you wanted.

Once you have selected the version of UE you want, simply click on the yellow “Install” button to begin the installation.

That’s it!


Updating Unreal Engine is crucial for maintaining optimal performance but can be a risky process if performed without understanding all the options and implications. For most users, creating a second installation will be the preferred choice. It allows for maximum flexibility, and the only downside is that it requires additional storage capacity.


Why should I update my Unreal Engine?

Updating your Unreal Engine ensures optimal performance, bug fixes, and new features that can improve the overall functionality of your project.

How do I check which version of Unreal Engine I’m running?

To know which engine you are currently running, open up the editor and go to Help > About Unreal Editor. Here, you will see the version number and build date displayed in the pop-up window.

Can I update my Unreal Engine while working on a project?

Yes, it is possible to update your engine without losing work on an existing project. However, this approach is not advised. If you do choose this method, make sure your project is backed up before making any changes.

What are some common errors when updating the Unreal Engine?

Some common errors when updating include compatibility issues with plugins or custom code used in projects and missing dependencies needed for proper functioning. To avoid these issues, make sure all third-party tools used within your projects are updated alongside unreal engine updates & double-check system requirements before implementing any updates into production use.

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