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This question already has an answer here:

What's the difference between this to options to install and manage packages?

And which one is better to use for regular LaTeX typesetting?

marked as duplicate by m0nhawk, Peter Jansson, Ludovic C., jubobs, Stefan Kottwitz Nov 17 '13 at 12:33

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • They both do the same thing, except that the Admin version starts up with admin privileges. They both perform the same functions for your TeX distribution. – ChrisS Nov 17 '13 at 9:57
  • @m0nhawk Agree on the dupe: should I remove my answer here? – Joseph Wright Nov 17 '13 at 11:29
  • @JosephWright: I don't think so. Let it stay. – m0nhawk Nov 17 '13 at 12:16
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When installed in 'multi-user' mode, MiKTeX maintains two trees for installed packages:

  • The system-wide tree, typically C:\Program Files\MiKTeX <version>\
  • A per-user tree, typically inside %APPDATA% (a user-specific folder)

When you use the 'Admin' mode for maintenance, packages are updated/installed in the system wide tree, and so are available for all users. On the other hand, when you run in 'non-Admin' mode, the user-specific folder is updated and so this applies only for 'you'.

MiKTeX always reads the per-user folder first, so if you install a package in both folders your 'personal' copy is read. That can lead to confusion if you've done an Admin update and are not seeing a change of say version. As such, for a computer only used by one person a 'multi-user' install is probably best avoided, as you then don't have to worry about this.

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