SAVE DATA - By Vice  
  I'm providing this post as a central location for instructions on backing up your pilot profiles, settings, and for general information on where this data is kept and why. Those of you using the default folder location during installation can also use this information in case you want to back up specific profiles, settings, or transfer such data to a new computer.

For all current SW3DG games, save data and settings are saved in this location by default (you can optionally change it, if desired):


This is also the folder you can install the game to by default, usually the same drive that you have Windows itself saved on (typically C: ). You can specify a different folder during installation for the core game files (binary, certain static data files, instructions, etc), however, files that the game needs to save data to are kept in the folder listed above. This is done for several important reasons:

- When the files were kept with the game binary folder, problems surfaced with Windows Vista. Some players would install the game into a protected folder (a folder blocked for writing access by Vista and 7's UAC). Those players would then encounter problems with their profiles and settings not being saved. Vista's file virtualization for UAC only worked for deleting and writing to files, it didn't adapt to file detection. So saving and then retrieving that data from files failed to work because Vista did not report to an application that a file existed in the virtualized location properly. It allowed the check in the application folder, but then directed the app to the virtualized location when it wanted to write new data. So an application was not allowed to save or edit data within a folder that is blocked by Vista's UAC, even if that folder was its own \Program Files folder that the application/installer created itself. In order to write to that folder, the user had to elevate priviledges to 'admin' level for that application. Using a dedicated known 'allowed' folder lets the game manage critical profile/settings data with UAC on rather than forcing an additional prompt and alteration of priviledges level every time the game starts.

- More than one person used the same computer and those players wanted their friends/family to be able to just launch the game and play it just like they did without having to reselect a bunch of configuration settings. Using separate user folders resulted in the settings data only applying to one user account. Such folders were also more difficult for players to find when they wanted to backup their files (see below).

- Players asked for a way to make backing up very simple. They wanted just one folder to deal with in an easy to find location. \sw3dg\GameName was much easier than long folder locations tucked away in the Documents and Settings (XP) and Users (Vista/7) folder trees.

- Players wanted to be able to manually set the location of the folder, so the option was included to let them move it to any location they desired using the method explained in the instructions.

This setup works with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 so it's easy to transfer the files from one OS to the other and from one computer to the other.

Pilot profiles are saved with the filenames PILOTX.SW where X is a number ranging from 0 to 7 (pre-Mercenary) or 99 (Mercenary and more recent games). Each number corresponds to the slot for the profile, starting with 0 at the top. These are the most important files to back up. They are small and can even be kept on a floppy disk. It's a good idea to back up these files periodically so you can restore your progress in the future, if needed.

Settings are saved using the filenames SW.CFG, KEYMAPX.SW (where X is a number), and STICKT.SW. These files are not critical for backing up, but can be useful in case you want to save your key/button and joystick axis control profiles along with video, audio, detail, and other control settings. If these aren't backed up, the game will simply rebuild them the first time you launch a new installation of the game and you can remap your controls and change settings as desired. If you install the game on a new system, it's a good idea to let the game rebuild the SW.CFG file anyway to accomodate differences the new system may have compared to the old one. The game will build that file based on what it detects on the system and will attempt to optimize settings based on the configuration it detects.

Moving the Game to a Different Folder or Drive

If you have more than one hard drive on your system and you want to move the game to the other hard drive, you can do so with the savedir.txt file option described in the instructions. You can also just move the game to a different folder (but make sure not to move the game to a protected folder with Vista/7's UAC on, otherwise the game won't be able to properly save your settings and pilot profiles). Here are some instructions on how to do this.

The easiest way to move the game is to just move the
c:\sw3dg\GameName folder group to where you want it, make sure to update your desktop icon to point to the new location. Then create a text file in the game's new location (in the game's folder where you put the EXE) named savedir.txt and in the first line, put the drive and folder location. The game automatically adds the \sw3dg and the \GameName folder, so you only need to list the drive and folders that come before those.

For example, if you just move the
\sw3dg\GameName folder group (both \sw3dg and \GameName) from C to D, your savedir.txt file would look like this:


With nothing else after it. The game will add the
\sw3dg and \GameName folder and use the new location.

In the future when you install updates, you'll need to point the installer to the new location so it can update the required files as needed.

You can also keep the core game files separate from the save data folder, if desired, but you'll need to remember to manage two separate folders. It's generally best to keep all of the files together in the same folder for easier updating and backup management.

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