Visual Studio - multiple versions installed

Posted on 2016-08-15
Last Modified: 2016-10-27

I have a user that has multiple versions of Visual Studio installed and after a few days,
when he has about 3-4 instances of Visual Studio 2015 open, he cant open another one.

This seems to have started after SQL server tools for VS2015 was installed.
he does get an error window about loading the VS menu and to

run   devenv.exe /resetsettings , which doesn't fix the problem.


he does seem to have a very long path, he think each instance of VS adds another dnx path into the PATH

C:\oracle32\product\11.2.0\client_l \bin;
C:\oracle64\product\ 11.2.0\client_l \bin;
C:\Windows\System32\ WindowsPowerShell\v 1.0\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Enterprise Vault\EVClient\x64\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Binn\vSShell\Common7\IDE\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\] OO\Tools\Binn\;
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Binn\;
C:\ProgramFiles (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\100\DTS\Binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2015 Power Tools\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools\Best Practices Analyzer\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\80\TooIs\Binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\90\DTS\Binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\BinnWSShell\Common7\IDE\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft ASP.NET\ASP.NET Web Pages\vl.O\;
c:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\DTS\Binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\CDC Software\PivotaIClient\PivotaIClient.PerMachine\exe\bin\Standard;
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Servervl IOvl'ools'Binnv;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Acronis\SnapAPI\;
C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Web Platform Installer\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\11O\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\11O\Tools\Binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 1O.O\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\11 O\DTS\Binn\;
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\120\Tools\Binn\;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.1 \Windows Performance Toolkit\;
C:\Windows\System3 2\ WindowsPowerShell\v 1. 0\;
C:\Program Files\nodejs\;
C:\Program Files\Git\cmd;
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 11.0\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies\;
C:\Users\USER\.dnx\runtimes\dnx-c1r-win-x86.1. O.O-rc l-update2\bin;
Question by:GST-GRIDTECH
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LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 41757626
the path variable (defined via system settings-system.advanced-environment variables) may not contain visual studio paths if there are multiple visual studio versions active.

each studio has it own path settings which are not dependent on the path environment variable.

if (some of) your programs/projects are dependent on the path environment variable pointing to the visual studio folders, you should start the visual studio version via batch file and enhance the path variable in the the batch file before calling devenv.exe. such doing would not enhance the general path variable but only locally for the started visual studio instance. all programs started from this vs version would inherit the path variable and other locally defined environment variables.


Author Comment

ID: 41757649
Hi Sara,

Thank you for your comment.

Not being very familiar at all with Visual Studio,
so if the Path has  nothing to do with the issue,
then what can we do about VS not starting after 3-4 instances of VS being opened?

what could be the cause?
What are the possible fixes?
why would he get the error window suggesting to run   devenv.exe /resetsettings,  but it doesn't fix the problem.?

Thank you.. any information is greatly appreciated as I am totally unfamiliar with VS.
LVL 34

Accepted Solution

sarabande earned 500 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41758220
you need to 'clean' the Path Environment variable defined in the System Settings from all visual studio paths, sqlserver paths, tfs paths (note you have two tabs for user and system where in both a Path could be defined. both would build the valid environment variable).

the problem is that the Path was parsed from begin to end for a dll or exe and that there are files with same name in the vs folders. hence, it could happen that a dll or exe with wrong version was used when executing programs. another issue occurred if the path exceeds a defined maximum (i think it is 1024 characters what surely is violated by the path you posted). then the path cannot expanded by dynamic folders what also could cause the issue you encountered.

note, if you don't need to use the different vs versions same time you could use a mapped drive letter to activate the right version in path:

- define the folders of visual studio and SQL Server in the path environment variable in the System Settings like


and have each subfolder only once.

then use a batch file for each version you want to make current and add

if exist x:\ subst x: /D
subst x: C:\ProgramFiles (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0
if exist y:\ subst y: /D 
subst y: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\

Open in new window

if you execute the batch, the drives x, y were mapped to the folders of the wished version and path was correctly defined. however, it is not possible to run different versions same time since the drive mapping is a global definition.

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Author Comment

ID: 41765088
Hi, very sorry for my absence.
im stillworking on this and in need of a solution.
just called away on a web development issue.

i will be picking this up again today and tomorrow.

thank you

Author Comment

ID: 41768515
the info I was able to get from the user is the issue of opening up multiple instances of Visual Studio started happening soon after having SQL Server Tools for Visual Studio 2012 a week prior which also seemed to have given him issues with certain icons. but the icon issues were resolved.

since he primarily uses Visual Studio 2015, it is with VS2015, that he has the issue of opening up multiple instances, then he would get the error message and then would have to close and restart everything.
LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 41768582
actually, if the user is not willing to solve the path issue where the path is pointing to multiple folders having dll's with same name but where not necessarily the first of these folders is the right one, they will not get a stable system.

LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 41793890
The user tries to use multiple versions of Visual Studio same time. This can only work if the PATH environment variables, both of Windows and Visual Studio are well-defined and are not pointing to folders of a different VS version.


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