Advice on WoW files not copying into external drive?
January 24, 2010 10:02 AM   Subscribe

I plan to return to playing World of Warcraft. However, I need to keep the game on an external hard disk, or at least temporarily transfer it from the computer's drive to that disk frequently. When I played before, the files (install files or the installed game) would not copy to the external drive, although I have never had any such problems with a non-WoW file. I am thinking of getting an install CD for the game, so that instead of transferring from the computer to the external drive, I can just erase and reinstall. Problem is, I would need to reinstall all patches each time I did that. Does anyone have any ideas about why the external disk doesn't like WoW or how I can get around this?
posted by i2d2 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Will it let you install it on the external drive when you first install it?

My understanding is that wow is pretty self contained.

As for the patch files, there are external places you can download them at (bigdownload is the one i know about..)

But taking a quick look in this folder mysteriously named world of warcraft in my programs folder (>_> I donno where it came from, I promise! /joke), i see a ton of files named things like:


and I think those are the applied patch files I originally downloaded..
posted by royalsong at 10:14 AM on January 24, 2010

If you are going to attempt a full reinstall, downloading the game files is a good idea (especially if you have the room to keep a back-up of the installer files) You should be able to install the game directly to an external hard disk if you are having problems moving it. This help topic on our tech support froums might help. If you have any wow issues you should stop by there first as they're a great source of information.

You can also download the entire game by accessing your account management page although with the blizzard downloader speeds may be less than 3rd party websites.
posted by MrCynical at 10:35 AM on January 24, 2010

If you just copied the game directory to the external drive, then the registry would need to be modified to find the new files. A reinstall can take care of this, but the wowrepair.exe tool is faster.

But I might be misunderstanding the nature of your particular problem. I can't think of a reason you couldn't copy the files to an external drive assuming space wasn't an issue.

I run wow on my workstation and my laptop. To keep the directories up to date, I use Synctoy. It works pretty well and is really fast.

You could use that to backup the files and then manually copy them back from the external drive.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:23 AM on January 24, 2010

I have copied WoW on to an external drive (a 16gb usb flash drive to be exact, though I may have to get a larger one soon due to the size of the last patch) and run it without problems, so it can be done. Not sure why you were running into problems, but I just wanted to let you know it is definitely possible to do.
posted by platinum at 11:29 AM on January 24, 2010

I've run WoW off external drives and network shares with no issue. I don't believe there are any registry keys. Sounds like you are running into a basic file copying problem. If you're running Vista or W7 you might not have the proper permissions to the default 'Program Files' folder.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2010

"I don't believe there are any registry keys."

There are. They're used by the patchers and expansion installers to determine where the install is. They're in "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Blizzard Entertainment\World of Warcraft", and are called "GamePath", "InstallPath" and "uninstallPath". I've had patches fail to install if these were missing.

(It's HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\.... on 64 bit platforms)

Having said that, I just up and copy the WoW client to and from various media all the time. The idea of installing from scratch horrifies me, as it's a very, very long procedure.

" I am thinking of getting an install CD for the game, so that instead of transferring from the computer to the external drive, I can just erase and reinstall."

WoW is 16 gigs installed. You do not want to install it from optical media more than once.
posted by majick at 12:37 PM on January 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers, and I'm sorry for not mentioning that the computer is a MacBook, so moving the program does not entail registry or similar problems. It does seem to be an issue with copying files, and only those related to WoW (I have backed up friends' hard drives with no problems). And it does not install into the drive either.

It's just that I don't want to download the game or the patches every time I do a scheduled backup of this computer. The computer or the back up drive aren't mine, so I don't want to keep WoW on it during backups. I think the CD may help with it (May take forever, but still better than downloading and then installing :) ), but the patches are a problem. I would just buy a storage device to keep all that, but I'm leery of having the same copy problem.
posted by i2d2 at 12:56 PM on January 24, 2010

I've also known people who successfully installed and played WoW on a network drive, which is basically the same as an external drive. They were able to play off that one network drive from different computers, so your idea should work.
posted by jmd82 at 1:47 PM on January 24, 2010

On a macbook, its no thing at all. You can drag and drop to your applications folder. No registry to be concerned about.
posted by dobie at 2:07 PM on January 24, 2010

There is a "registry" of sorts on Macs, it's the Library directory structure under your home dir. I have no idea if WoW puts anything there though.

The nice thing is that it's just a set of files, so it's not a big deal to copy / replace them when needed.
posted by cschneid at 2:24 PM on January 24, 2010

Best answer: The WoW Mac client can just be picked up and moved around willy-nilly. It doesn't have anything in the Library that you care about. You don't have to do anything to it to move it or copy it. Stick it on an external drive and it'll run just fine.

The reinstallation process I suggested avoiding is still totally miserable, though, so don't do that to yourself. Just grab the folder, stick it on the external device, and run it. Unless it's a FireWire drive, it'll be slow to play it from there but it will work. Just make sure the external device is formatted HFS.

"The CD" that you're thinking of reinstalling with is actually several DVDs. No, you don't want to reinstall. Just copy the client to the external and run it.

"I don't want to keep WoW on it during backups."

Exclude the WoW client from your backups and save yourself all this crazy Rube Goldberg stuff.

". It does seem to be an issue with copying files, and only those related to WoW (I have backed up friends' hard drives with no problems). And it does not install into the drive either."

This sounds an awful lot like you've got some kind of FAT formatted device you're trying to copy to, which will refuse to hold the large files that WoW is made up of, and even if it did it wouldn't run them anyway. Are you absolutely sure it's an HFS volume on there?

If it's not an HFS volume, you can either reformat it (that'd be ideal) or if you can't or won't do that for whatever reason, you can create a sparse diskimage on it, mount that, and then copy the files to that.
posted by majick at 3:26 PM on January 24, 2010

Response by poster: @Majick: Thank you very much. I was trying to move the game onto the external drive, it just wouldn't do it. I had no idea why until you pointed out the problem with the FAT format. The drive is FAT formatted (I know nothing about the ins and outs of hard disk formats). I will try the solution you suggested.
posted by i2d2 at 11:54 AM on February 3, 2010

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