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The Big Reinstall Part 1: World of Warcraft

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, 1st September 2009 at 10:30 PM (16274 Views)
With the release of Windows 7 it is time to start grabbing your Windows 7 ISO's, furiously burn them to a disk and install a new copy of Windows 7. Any gaming rig will have Gigabytes of programs to copy over though if the file transfers fail. The Big Reinstall helps you transfer those programs to quickly get back to your online fragfests.

So let's start with the biggest player on the market at the moment, World of Warcraft.

Before starting it is recommended to backup files to an External Hard Disk Drive or other mass storage media. An old World of Warcraft folder can grow considerably in size over time and take up many times more space then required so a big hard disk will help with your big re-install.

Fortunately World of Warcraft is very painless to backup and restore, you can copy the whole folder to your backup device and drag it back into your Progam Files folder to restore it. But the folder tends to be filled with stuff that can be left behind to reduce the load.

1) Create a folder named World of Warcraft on your external backup device

2) Go to C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft

3) Select everything in the folder

4) Deselect unnecessary items by clicking them with the CTRL key held down.

5) Drag the items left in your selection to the World of Warcraft folder on your backup device

Now, what to leave behind? Here is a guide to the contents of the folder:

  • \Cache - Leave this behind. It only contains files cached from the server by the client.
  • \Data - Contains the archives holding the game files (commonly MPQ files). Copy this entire folder.
  • \Errors - disposable error logs generated by the game. Leave them.
  • \Interface - contains the AddOns used by the game. Copying these files is optional if you don't want to re-install them on restoring.
  • \Logs - Yet more game generated logs. Leave them.
  • \Patches - Patches that were downloaded and applied. Again, leave this behind as you have the patches applied already.
  • \Screenshots - An album of images you have taken in-game. Personally, I'd back these up with your My Pictures folder. Optional to copy but leave it out the restore process and save the pictures elsewhere.
  • \WDB - Empty folder?
  • \WTF - No, not the curse. This holds all your settings (Video Options, Addon Options, etc). Friends lists are server side. Though optional, I strongly recommend copying this or you spend ages setting up the game again. And that sucks.

Any other folders are not required for the backup process.

In addition, you will want to copy every non-folder in the root of your World of Warcraft directory structure. The exceptions are the files called Patch (sometimes prefixed with version numbers like WoW-3.0.1-Wow-3.1.1-patch.exe), Pre-Patch and the patch downloader programs (similarly named like the patch files but end in downloader). These are old patches which should be applied already and held in your \Data folder. They don't always go into the \Patches folder and cause the most bloated space in the folder.

To restore, simply copy your backed up and trimemd down World of Warcraft folder into C:\Program Files (or wherever you keep your programs). This will restore WoW and if done correctly, be ready to play.

Note that installign Windows 7 from Vista will store your old Program Files folder to C:\Windows.old. You can copy the files directly from "C:\Windows.old\Program Files\World of Warcraft" to "C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft" as normal but I still recommend backing up files befre re-installing Windows.

Next post...Steam. Which is a lot trickier then it seems.

Updated 5th November 2009 at 12:04 PM by CAM

WoW , Technical


  1. ahuxham's Avatar
    I wish a software system was developed that would monitor an applications installed, and usage there after, I mean there are installation monitors to create packages, but nothing to follow it on from there, to monitor calls to folders, files and the likes and than create an export of the complete software package onto a new system.

    Would make life such a breeze, if changing a PC, you don't need to reinstall, you just backup the program and move it onto a new machines.


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