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If you’ve got an Android phone, it’s almost a given that you acquire all your apps from the Google Play Store. But what happens when it stops working? This week, Kannon Yamada looks at how to uninstall and reinstall the Google Play Store when things go wrong.

A Reader Asks:

For some reason, the Google Play Store isn’t updating. I think I need to reinstall it. How would I go about doing that?

Kannon’s Reply

The Google Play Store doesn’t always play nice with users. It suffers from a tremendous number of potential issues. Some errors display an error code — but others remain opaque to the user. You can resolve most issues by stopping the app and wiping its cache or data. If users encounter an error code, the routine is often the same, but a few of these require different methods. I’ve included both resources for looking up error codes, as well as some fixes for commonly seen codes that a simple cache wipe won’t resolve.

This article does not cover modified devices (what’s a custom ROM? How to Install a Custom ROM on Your Android Device How to Install a Custom ROM on Your Android Device Ready to revitalize your Android phone or tablet? Installing a custom ROM is the best way to do that -- powering it up with even better performance and features. Read More ) — there’s too many variables that prevent proper diagnosis. However, I’ll briefly mention why custom ROMs and rooting cause Google Play failures toward the end of this article.

google play store logo

The Basic Formula for Fixing Google Play Store Problems

There’s four different fixes for repairing most Play Store errors. You don’t need to use all of these simultaneously — just try one and see if it fixes the problem. If it doesn’t, try another.

The four fixes are: Stop the app and then wipe the Store’s cache and/or data; switch from a data connection to WiFi; Uninstall and Reinstall the Play Store (requires root privileges); refresh your Google Account.

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These fixes cover the majority of Play Store problems. However, I’ve included several errors which these methods won’t resolve (please see the section below titled Other Google Play Store Error Codes and Fixes).

Stop App, Wipe Cache and Data

The Google Play Store relies on other processes that runs silently in the background. Whenever you wipe the Google Play Store, it’s also a good idea to do the same with Google Services and Google Framework Services. Optionally, you may also want to wipe data for Download Manager. Once wiped, restart your device and then reattempt the installation or update. This may require that you reenter your login information.

Because this method resolves most issues, I’ll provide a step-by-step rundown:

First, go to Settings. Then navigate to Apps and find the tab for All.

google play cache wipe

Next, choose Google Play Services and go to FORCE STOP and stop the app. Then choose CLEAR CACHE (or CLEAR DATA, which also wipes the cache, but requires that you re-log into the service).

android wipe play store cache and data 2

Here’s a video showing the process:

Switch From Data to WiFi

A lot of apps won’t install if your Internet connection is spotty — which commonly afflicts those using  mobile data. To switch from mobile data to WiFi, simply connect to a WiFi network.

Uninstall and Reinstall the Play Store App

For those with root access (what’s Android root?), users can uninstall and reinstall the Google Play Store. You can download a mostly up-to-date copy of the Store, which requires that you use a file manager (like Amaze File Manager).

Refresh your Google Account

Refreshing, or removing and re-adding, your Google Account isn’t very hard. Here’s Google’s official instructions (technically, these instructions cover Nexus devices, but they will work for most everyone). WARNING: This will remove your personal data from the device, including messages and other data.

First, head to Settings. Then choose Accounts.

Then select the account that’s experiencing issues. If all accounts suffer from the problem, you will need to remove all the accounts. Choose the menu option, which is represented by three vertical dots, located at the top-right of the screen. Then choose Remove account.

remove google account android

You can then re-add your account from the Accounts menu. You may want to restart your phone after re-adding your account, but that’s not required.

Here’s a video on how to remove your account:

Other Google Play Store Error Codes and Fixes

XDA user mohamedrashad compiled a mammoth list of Play Store error codes. There’s about twenty or so common error codes. Most of these require that the user perform the actions listed above (cache wipe, etc…), although a few are exceptions to this rule. The exceptions are:

Why Modifying Android Causes Google Play Store Failures

Oftentimes, rooting or installing a custom ROM can change data contained within Android’s system directory. Some alterations to the system directory can cause the Play Store to stop functioning. A major cause of Play Store failure comes from using a custom recovery (what’s a custom recovery? What's a Custom Recovery? Exploring CWM, TWRP, and Friends What's a Custom Recovery? Exploring CWM, TWRP, and Friends If you've ever considered tinkering with your Android device, you've probably read that you need to flash a custom recovery onto it before you can do anything serious. But, that begs some questions. Read More ) to restore the system or data directory. I advise using Titanium Backup, or a similar backup Don't Lose Your Data: 5 Top Backup Solutions For Android Don't Lose Your Data: 5 Top Backup Solutions For Android Everybody needs to back up their data in case something happens to their device. Protect yourself with these amazing backup apps. Read More  solution, to restore apps with data. It’s worth noting that Helium doesn’t require root access and can also perform app backups.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s a lot of reasons to install a custom ROM 6 Reasons You Need to Be Using a Custom ROM 6 Reasons You Need to Be Using a Custom ROM Custom ROMs are the best thing about having an Android phone! Don't miss out! Read More . Unfortunately, when things go wrong (and they often do), troubleshooting requires a great deal more experience and effort than on an unmodified device.

There’s an App For That

The single best resource available is the Android Error Code Fixer, which combines the knowledge of AndroidPIT’s users and editors on resolving Android error codes. The app includes both Android error codes and Google Play Store error codes. It’s designed as a reference utility — users simply input the code and the app displays potential fixes.

On the downside, the Android Error Code Fixer displays full screen ads. While this is a small price to pay for resolving a device-disabling bug, you might prefer an Internet search for your particular error code, if it’s not contained within this article.

If all else fails, you can always try the Amazon App Store or F-Droid (great apps on F-Droid Want to Rid Yourself of the Android Play Store? Kiss Google Goodbye and Try F-Droid Want to Rid Yourself of the Android Play Store? Kiss Google Goodbye and Try F-Droid Did you know that Android allows the installation of app stores other than the Play Store? You might already use apps from the Amazon Appstore and GetJar—but you probably never heard that a completely free,... Read More ). Both install on pretty much anything and suffer from fewer problems than Google’s Play Store.

AndroidGooglePlay-Amazon-Appstore

Resolving Google Play Store Issues

Killing Play Store problems isn’t hard anymore. If the default wipe of the Play Store’s cache and data fails, you can always look up your particular error code and solve almost any problem — unless you’ve installed a custom ROM, that is.

We Can Help You Too!

We helped this reader. We can help you, too. Got a burning question, or a tech problem you need solved? Just click the button above! And, of course, please leave any feedback or comments in the comments below!

  1. Mirza
    November 18, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Hi there
    I'm using zenfone 6 android version 4.3. I rooted my devices long time ago and had problem of updating Google play and everything related this. So when I open Google play it shutsdown itself and I have to download my apps through different websites in apk files. I was reading in another forum to download an paste ur Google store and services files into root directory so it can be run through system files but when I try to do that I can't copy or paste or any file in root folder. I tried solid Explorer app to copy or modify the files but nothing happened. One more thing I found out in solid Explorer I can see three storages, internal, external which are understand able but another one named Root., consuming space of 1.5 GB. . Any simple solution for that please?

    • Kannon Yamada
      November 29, 2016 at 12:45 am

      The installation method varies by phone, but in general, there is a specific order that you should follow when installing Play Store files. I believe the order is 1. Google Play Framework; 2. Google Play Services; 3. Google Account Manager; 4. Google Play Store. But that's only if you do not currently have the Play Store installed. If you already have Google Play installed on a rooted device, you may want to consider uninstalling those four apps and then reinstalling them from a trusted source.

  2. Abhay Gupta
    November 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

    I've done all the solution but still it is just showing downloading and actually it doesn't. I'm using Leeco Le1s recently and also I've 21gb free space. Plz for God name, help me.

    • Kannon Y
      November 13, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Have you tried a factory reset? What happens after performing a factory reset? You may want to check your internet connection. Try connecting to another network at a coffee shop or perhaps try using mobile data.

  3. chescasdivibagracia@yahoo.com
    November 1, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Yellow..can you help me with my problem with Google play store..please response..

    • Kannon Y
      November 13, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      What have you tried so far? What kind of device do you own? The best way to resolve these kinds of issues is to Google around and see if someone with the same device as you has experienced the same problem.

  4. Faisal
    October 25, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    My phone is VIVO X7. A new released phone. As a chinese phone, it did not have any google play store, service or google play game application. I downloaded these manually . But when I download something from play store it downloads the app then afyer download finishes, it downloadss again. play store keeps this redownloading again and again. Help!

    • Kannon Yamada
      October 26, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      That sounds like a permissions issue. Have you tried uninstalling the Play Store and trying either another downloaded package or an older version of the Play Store? Have you used the correct XDA thread with the Play Store APK or some shifty website without proper attribution?

  5. corey
    October 24, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    I went from a nexus 5 to a stylus i like the bigger screen. However i have checked into custom recovery and rooting. My first root that actyally happened well i thought i did everything right followed every step down oaded everything and it seems as the battery died it caused my phone to i guess what you call a brick. So i had a rooted phone for like a hour. Anyway i wish i had a step by step procedure how to root this phone and not brick it. One issue i have is my google playstore it keeps telling me it stoppex and i try and down load apps from like aptoide and aptoidelite and it causes fhem to do the same. I think if i install a custom rom and root my phone issue would be fixed. I dont know in hopes i can get a answer.

    • Kannon Yamada
      October 26, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Did you download the Play Store from the XDA thread from recognized developers? There's a big difference between the latest pulls and older ones one shady websites.

  6. Levona
    September 17, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Hi there. I bought a boost mobile shaker slim phone,I just downloaded the Google play store but it doesn't want to open. I deleted it and tried again but didn't install. Its been 3,days doing this with no luck. Please can you assist me

    • Kannon Y
      September 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      I would first try downloading and installing an APK from a reputable source:

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1996995

      If it still doesn't work, try another version of the APK. The XDA thread above should link to multiple older versions of the Play Store -- one of these might be compatible with your phone. Please start with the newest and work your way backward. Let me know how it goes.

  7. huglo pom pom
    August 19, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    I've tried everything in here except the rooting part and yet I am getting downloading issues.....pls solve the problem!

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      Can you elaborate on the problems that you're having? It could be caused by a poor connection to the wireless router. There are a lot of methods for dealing with this, such as changing the channel of your router. However, I'd need more details before recommending any course of action.

  8. KDS
    August 18, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    For a company like Google, this is beyond pathetic. Their flagship app, Google Play Store, often works incorrectly. When contacted, Google offers a number of suggestions that amount to little more than "waving the chicken" - try this to see if that fixes the problem. If it doesn't, try that. If it doesn't, reset things and lose your data in the process. WTF? Google FIX THE DAMN APP! Investigate first why it is not working properly, find out the root causes (which you obviously do not know) and just STOP WASTING YOUR CUSTOMERS TIME WITH VOODOO SUGGESTIONS! What are you, a two-bit organization, like Microsoft, or do you know what you are doing?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      What's really sad is that Android is probably today's most robust operating system. It has fewer issues and complexity than Windows. It's easier to work on compared to iOS. But then that's like comparing the black plague to polio.

      In truth, the troubleshooting process has always been a little like the shaman doing a rain dance on the surface. There is a definitely course of action to take under all circumstances, but because of the complexity of modern systems, sometimes the symptoms can look like another problem entirely. But I digress.

      The Google Play Store is kind of a mess compared to the Amazon App Store. There are three different programs in the GPS and the added complexity just makes it a harder beast to repair once something goes wrong.

  9. Mr.John
    August 12, 2016 at 6:06 am

    when I finished download a game, it said the game can't be installed and give error - 20
    (somehow I can't find any explanation on error code -20 anywhere)

  10. KDS
    August 10, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    It is kind of pitiful that this presents so many problems and, most damning, that the fixes consist of trying actions, more or haphazardly, in the hope that they solve the problem. Quite frankly, Google ought to do a MUCH better job of this.

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 11, 2016 at 12:21 am

      In Google's defense, they have error codes, but oftentimes these are not really all that effective in diagnosing most problems. As the operating system matures, hopefully they provide better methods of dealing with errors.

  11. Fraser
    July 19, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    i have a HTC one M8 and ive recently rooted it, i have SU and confirmed rooted with root checker, i only flashed the SU onto the phone so no real software there, my brother did while the phone was in the PC delete the entire internal storeage and it shows that there is stuff there but when clicked to be open, nothing is showing... when i tried to update anything google related or even 'pokemon go' the app store will just stop, it will also no allow me to download anything from the web on the phone... how can i fix this. there is no back up on which he did this before i could do one...

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 11, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      I'm not familiar with this issue. If the system directory were erased, the phone would not boot. It sounds like only the user data directory was erased, although if the directory is still showing files there, it may not be erased either. Have you tried reconnecting the phone via ADB and rechecking if anything is damaged? I believe Android also automatically regenerates directories on its storage partition.

  12. wahyu mardiansyah
    June 29, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    My playstore always show error 501 after download new app.. it can use for installing update old app only..

    I already wipe it (play store , play service, google service framework) but give me another error.. cant open the playstore.. so i remove my google account then i cant log in to google..

    My phone is galaxy tab a8 (lollypop) please help

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 1, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Have you tried a factory reset yet?

  13. Theresa
    May 29, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    Thank you for your advice on fixing play store. My phone hasnt worked properly for months! Awesome and simple.

  14. Adriano Fernandes
    March 26, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    It started 2 days ago...I have factory reset my phone...about 4 times....and It doesn't work yet...not updating WhatsApp...just loading forever....so I manually downloaded the Apks from the app I need.

  15. Adriano
    March 24, 2016 at 4:42 am

    Hello

    I have a BLU Life Play 2 L170i with Kit Kat...

    I REALLY appreciate some help...I have done all the options...

    1.Clear data, cache, uninstall updates from Play Store and Google Play services, reboot;
    2. Fixing the time, reboot;
    3. Configuring Static IP;
    4. Using older version of Play Store;
    5. Factory Reset
    6. Remove and add back the google accout; reboot
    7. Editing Host file...

    I basically have done everything mentioned.....before and after I rooted my phone...and Play Store simply does not wanto to update nor download any app....so I ended download everythng I need from the browser over the *.apk files.

    Any help????

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

      That's a really troubling problem. BLU resells Chinese phones within the United States. I think they rebrand Giaonee phones and they may or may not have official support from Google. Google has an inspection process for making sure that all phones using the Play Store do so smoothly. Unfortunately, some companies hack Google Play onto their devices and oftentimes experience issues whenever Google updates their services.

      How long have you had the issue?

      • Adriano Fernandes
        March 26, 2016 at 10:06 pm

        It started 2 days ago…I have factory reset my phone…about 4 times….and It doesn’t work yet…not updating WhatsApp…just loading forever….so I manually downloaded the Apks from the app I need.

        • Kannon Yamada
          March 28, 2016 at 4:16 pm

          Google's services are composed of multiple applications that run in the background. The best workaround option is to probably install the Amazon App Store:

          http://www.amazon.com/WhatsApp-Inc/dp/B00LCC8S1I

          I believe the actual issue is BLU. If you can, try to return the phone. If you can't, the best option is Amazon.

        • Adriano Fernandes
          March 29, 2016 at 12:50 pm

          This was the last resort...installing F-Droid and Amanzon AppStore...
          And strangely....PlayStore was working again o.O

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