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Thread: Guide: Never reinstall your games, ever again!!!

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    Default Guide: Never reinstall your games, ever again!!!

    Ok, so I told everyone that I would write a guide on how to backup your games, so that they are still there after reinstalling Windows. This is a relatively simple process, and you will only need to do this once per game. This also works with programs, although I can’t guarantee that it will work with every program out there, as I don’t have access to every single program in the world.

    So, before we begin, here is what you will need before we proceed:


    1. A hard drive that does NOT have your OS installed on it. This can also be a different partition on the same hard drive, but again, it cannot contain your operating system.
    2. A legal* copy of the game you would like to install
    3. Administrator rights on your computer for accessing and modifying registry values
    4. The desire not to have to install that game ever again


    First I will explain how to how to backup the game you are installing. Next, I will explain how to edit the location of your Personal (“My Documents”) folder so that you will also retain your game saves and settings. Lastly, I will cover the fix for some of the more stubborn games.

    So, let’s dive in and get that game installed, for the last time.

    * Pureoverclock.com and its members will not help anyone that is trying to use this guide for an illegally obtained game. This is your warning. Don't ask.
    Last edited by shattered.likeness; 21-06-2009 at 06:24.
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    Default Part 1: How to backup your game

    Step 1: First we need to setup the backup hard drive/ partition that we will be installing the game(s) to. For example purposes, we will call this drive G:, for Games.


    • Inside of drive G: right-click an empty part of the screen to bring up your context menu.
    • Then, under “New”, highlight and select “New Folder”
    • Now, let’s name this new folder “Games” (without the quotation marks)


    Step 2: Next, install your game. For this example, I will use Call of Duty: World At War (COD:WOW).

    Step 3: Now that we have the game installed, let’s move it to our new directory on our G: drive in the Games folder.


    • Navigate to your C:/Program Files folder (C:/Program Files (x86) for Vista x64 users), and find where your game was installed. In our example, COD:WAW installs to C:\Program Files (x86)\Activision\Call of Duty – World at War
    • Right-click on the folder your game is installed in (the Call of Duty – World at War folder in the example), and select “Copy”
    • Now, go the folder we created at G:/Games
    • Inside the G:/Games folder, right-click and select “Paste”
    • Be patient, as this is copying every file that the game installed to this new directory. So, this could take a few minutes.
    • Do not delete the copy of your game from the Program Files folder yet.
    • NOTE: Your game will not work yet, so keep reading…


    Before we continue to Step 4, we need a little information about what are going to be doing.


    • Every game that you install, that stores games setting in the registry, will store them here: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software


    • In this key, you will find a key for every game that you have, that stored settings in the registry (which is the majority of games.)


    • The name for the key could be anything from the name of the company that produced the game, or it could just be the name of the game itself. COD:WAW installs its key as: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Activision \Call of Duty WAW (Mine is in this location because I’m running Vista x64)


    • Once you find the key for the game, look for an entry labeled InstallPath. (NOTE: It may not always be labeled as InstallPath, but most of the time it is.)


    • The InstallPath entry is what ties your game to the directory where your game is installed. And, if you change the directory where you game is located without changing this entry, your game will not work.


    Step 4: Now that we know how to find the InstallPath key, let’s edit it so that it points to our new directory.


    • Go to your Start Menu, and open the “Run” Command
    • Type in “regedit” (without the quotation marks) and press Enter
    • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software
    • Locate the key that contains your game’s settings
    • Double-click on the entry InstallPath to be able to edit it
    • Change the information to: G:\Games\*folder for your game*. In our example, this would be: G:\Games\Call of Duty – World at War
    • Now your game should be able to run

    Step 5: Check to make sure that your game works

    Step 6: Now that we have confirmed the game is working, we have to make it to where we can reuse the registry settings at a later date.


    • Go back into the registry to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software
    • Right-click on the key for your game. In our example this would be: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Activision
    • Choose Export
    • For the File Name enter “Install” (without the quotation marks)
    • Make sure to save this registry file in the same directory (G:/Games) that we copied the game to. In our example, this is: G:/Games/Call of Duty – World at War

    Step 7: Navigate back to the games original installation folder, in C:\Program Files and erase the original game files, as these will no longer work now that we have changed the registry entry.


    • This will put a file named Install.reg into the directory where we moved our game to.
    • Now, when we reinstall Windows, we will only need to double-click the Install.reg file to apply the settings we saved back to the registry, and the game will work again.
    • This file has all of the settings that the games stores in the registry for that game.
    Last edited by shattered.likeness; 21-06-2009 at 06:21.
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    Default Part 2: Backing up your game saves

    Now, I’ll quickly run you through the steps of how to backup all of your save games, so that you will not lose them when you reinstall Windows. What this means is that we need to change the location of our Personal (or “My Documents”) folder so that all of our game saves will be on the same drive as our Games.

    Step 1: Open the registry again (See Part 1: Backing up your game if you need to remember how to access the registry)

    Step 2: Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Curre ntVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

    Step 3: Locate the entry labeled: Personal

    Step 4: Change the data to your new My Documents folder

    -For example: G:/Games/Saves

    NOTE: It is suggested that you export this registry key as well so that you don’t have to redo this after every install. Instead just run the exported .reg file.
    Last edited by shattered.likeness; 21-06-2009 at 06:19.
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    Default Part 3: Dealing with stubborn games

    Ok, so this section is going to deal with some of the more pesky games that don’t work automatically after you reinstall Windows.

    Some games like: Bioshock, Crysis, and Command & Conquer require that you have Visual C++ installed before they will work. The simple fix for this is to create another folder inside your G:/Games/ directory that has the Visual C++ installation file in it.
    You can download a copy of Visuall C++ from Microsoft’s website at:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/d...displaylang=en

    This concludes this guide. Let me know if you need any help, and…

    HAPPY GAMING!
    Last edited by shattered.likeness; 21-06-2009 at 06:25.
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    Default

    Good tip Shattered.
    Now I have a question;
    How about you move the installed games to another desktop (my keyboard question mark didnt work properly today).

    Its look like only work on the same system because the other sys wont have the installation bath in the registry for you to edit.

  9. #7
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    Good question Deton,

    All you have to do is to move the entire directory from the backup drive (G:/Games/ in the example) to the other computer. Then right-click on the Install.reg file that you created, and select edit. This will open the .reg file in notepad. Making sure to keep the same syntax as in the .reg file, edit the InstallPath entry to the location you installed it on the new computer.

    The good news is that the game's DRM does not come into affect, as this only happens when you install the game from the disk. They can't tell whether you are running the game from the copied directory, or from the directory created by the disk. The only time it checks for a key is during disk installation, so you won't need to re-activate it either.
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    Does this work with Steam installed games, shattered.likeness?

  11. #9
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    You know, to be honest, I've never used Steam, so I couldn't tell you. If you decode to try it out, let me know if it works for you, and I'll update the guide to include that information.
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    Nice Guide Shattered!


    But just one thing concerns me. Wouldnt be easier and more simple to install the game directly into your backup folder( like in your example G:/Games) and then extract the registry key?? This would safe a lot of coping and the outcome would be the same. Also it would prevent getting mixed up when editing registry key as it would be created automatically by windows - no editing required

    Also if anyone would do that you have to be vey careful after Windows reinstallation beacuse sometimes it may change the drive letters and then G drive might D drive or so. Happend to me few times. Then the installpath key wont work proprely unless you update it with proper drive letter.

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  13. #11
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    This is true, but the guide was written in such a way so that people could do this with games that are already installed to their system. Thanks for bringing this to my attention though, I'll update the guide later to reflect your idea. It is easier to do it that way, and that is the way that I normally do it.

    I will admit that it was kind of a rush job to get the guide up, but I will go back and make revisions and release a version 2.0 soon.
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    Sticky plz

  15. #13
    OC Jedi Knight

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    Done.
    New System Specs Listed




    This is my invitation link for minus.com: http://min.us/rDfDx3F.
    [10GB online storage (up to 50GB by inviting others)]

  16. #14
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    Nicely done shattered! I've often pondered the best way to backup games, and this is the easiest way that I've seen by far!

  17. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lil' ½ Dead View Post
    Does this work with Steam installed games, shattered.likeness?
    Just incase anyone is still wondering about the steam games, steam has a back up system built to it under the tools section if i remember right and you can just select all the games that you wish to backup to whatever location you choose then when you do a new rebuild of your pc or if you wish to put them on your other pc you just select the restore option and tell it where the backed up files are and away it goes no more downloading for hours on end.

  18. The following user thanks Izzie For this above post:

    Drdeath (18-08-2010)

  19. #16
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    RE Steam backup - when you create the backup - use the verify/repair feature after doing it.

    My Steam files corrupted when backed up & so I had to re-download 11 Gigs!! for only a few games.

    Eido Cohen knows how to do this...

    Maybe he could write the steps in here
    Regards, Doug

    Save Turtles http://turtleshelltortue.org/

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