Multiple copies of Oblivion

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A Guide to Setting Up Multiple Copies of Oblivion using mTES4

This guide assumes that you already have Oblivion installed. Whether you have Oblivion installed yet or not, please read the whole guide first before doing anything, because you can save yourself some steps depending on your situation. The instructions in this guide are generic for general use cases and not all instructions may be necessary depending on your situation and what you intend to use mTES4 for.

NOTE: This utility now support Fallout 3 and New Vegas.

Yeah, yeah. I read through it all already.

Let's get on with it.

If you have not run mTES4 yet. Do so now. When mTES4 starts up it will detect your current Oblivion install and if it has not already been tagged as a clone, it will ask you to provide a name for it. For the purposes of this guide, please name it 'Original Copy'. You can easily rename all your clones after you have completed this guide.

Once your install copy has been named, you will see it listed in the Detected Clones list. At this point, mTES4 is not particularly useful, until you have established a second clone that you can switch to.

You should not create clone copies from an existing game install that has already been modded unless you want those mods and (associated glitches!) to carry over to your new clones! Instead, it is recommended that you establish a clean clone that you can make copies from.

So what is a clean clone then?

A clean clone is essentially a backup copy of Vanilla Oblivion, without any mods. The clean clone is used to create new copies which you can then modify how you wish. You should never mod or play the clean clone with the exception of adding what you would consider essential changes that you want to be pre-installed in every new clone you make.

If you have SI and/or any of the DLC's, you may want to pre-install them, keeping in mind that ALL of your new clones will include those as well.

If it's not already, make sure your game is updated to the latest patch.

If there are things that you always want changed, you can pre-install those changes in your clean clone. Remember though, that it's almost always easier to add any of these things to a new clone, than it is to remove them so decide carefully before including anything in your clean clone. You are much better off not to pre-install anything, unless you are sure you will want it installed with ALL new clones.

If you normally optimize your game files, you should optimize them in your clean clone.

You will save yourself alot of time when creating new clones if the optimization steps are already done in your clean clone. PyFFi your meshes, decompress or recompress your BSA's, etc.

I also suggest pre-installing the various Oblivion tools you use so that they are available for every clone. Tools such as Wrye Bash, OBMM, OBSE, TESCS, TES4Edit, TESGecko, etc, etc

Especially Wrye Bash, as mTES4 can take advantage of this and help you to setup your Oblivion Mods folders for any new clones.

Some examples of other types of things you might like to pre-install are:

  • The Unofficial Oblivion Patches
  • DarN UI (or whatever your preference is)
  • Texture and mesh Replacers, such as QTP, Roberts Male Body, HGEC
  • Game tweaking plugins such as TQP, Keychain, Cobl, MAO

Don't forget, if you have any doubt just don't pre-install anything.

Ok, so how do I make a clean clone?

Option A

If you have just freshly installed Oblivion or if you have never modded your game, this is simple. Create a clean clone by copying your Original Copy. Using mTES4, select your 'Original Copy' from the Detected Clones list. Click the Copy Clone button and name the new clone to 'Clean Copy'. This will take a couple minutes while your game folder is copied, then you are done. That's it! Skip on to the next section of this guide.

Option B

If your game has already been modded and you already have your own backup copy of a fresh installation. Import your backup. To import an existing copy of the game as a new clone, the copy must reside in the same folder as your Oblivion install folder. All clones must be in the same place. EG.


The clean clone will effectively be a backup of a fresh install, so you probably don't need to keep a separate backup copy anymore. If your backup is not in the same location as the Oblivion installation, move or copy it there. Rename the folder to 'Clean Copy' Using mTES4, click the Import Clone button. Select your Clean Copy folder. Now you can go to the next section of this guide.

Option C

If you do not have a backup copy already and your game is already modded, you will need to reinstall the game so you can get a fresh copy. Before you do this, you want to preserve your existing game. You can use mTES4 to create a backup, so you don't lose everything when you reinstall. Create a New Folder in the same location as your Oblivion installation and name it 'Dummy Copy'. EG.

C:\Games\Dummy Copy

Using mTES4, click Import Clone and choose the Dummy Copy folder. You should now see both your 'Original Copy' and the 'Dummy Copy' listed in the Detected Clones list. Select the Dummy Copy and click the Switch button. The Dummy Copy will move to the top of the list and should be the one in bold text signifying that it is the active clone. Make sure the Dummy Copy is active and not your Original Copy or you will lose everything! Close mTES4.

Now using your game discs (or steam or what not), reinstall the game. Make sure you reinstall to the same location that it was before.

When the game installation is finished, open mTES4 again. It should still list the Dummy Copy and the Original Copy. The Dummy Copy is now your fresh install, so select it, click the Rename button and change it to Clean Copy.

Now you should have your Original Copy and your new Clean Copy.

I have my clean clone, now what should I do?

By now, you should have two clones. Your Original Copy and a Clean Copy.

Reiterating something I already mentioned: You should never mod or play your clean clone. The purpose of having a clean clone is for your convenience to make new clone copies from. If you mod or play the clean clone, it won't be clean anymore. Keeping a clean clone does however require some extra diskspace (normally around 4 to 5gb depending on what you have pre-installed), so remember that this is all just recommendation. You certainly can go through the above steps again to create a new fresh copy.

Before you start making new clone copies from your clean clone, if you haven't done so already, take the time to prepare your clean clone by pre-installing your favorite 'essentials' that you know you will want in all of your new clones. Refer to the section above about what a clean clone is for some suggestions.

Yes I have prepared my clean clone and pre-installed the things I want to be in every new clone.

Can I start playing now?

Not quite yet. So far you only have your Original Copy (first install) and a fresh, Clean Copy. You want to preserve your Clean Copy (you should not play or mod it), so you should create a second playable clone now.

If you don't want to keep a clean clone for whatever reason, you can just use your new Clean Copy as your second install. Just rename your Clean Copy to something more descriptive. Remember though, if you ever want to create an additional clone, you will need a fresh install and will have to go through the above steps again.

If you want to keep your clean clone (and you really should, unless you don't have the diskspace for it). Using mTES4, select your Clean Copy from the Detected Clones list and click the Copy Clone button. Name your new clone however you like. Hopefully something descriptive depending on what you intend to use the clone for :) Assuming your new clone will be used for modding, you might name it 'Modded Copy'.

Now that you have two playable clones: your Original Copy and your Modded Copy. You can use mTES4 to switch between them whenever you choose.

Alright, can I start playing NOW?

Yep, if you have followed the above instructions, you should now have two playable clones. Just use mTES4 to Switch to the clone you want to be active and do your thing.

As long as you kept your clean clone, you can create new clones from it at any time by using mTES4.

Wait, I wanted to install Nehrim

I don't think this is going to work for me. What do I do now?

If all you want to use mTES4 for is to play Nehrim, you actually don't need to make a second playable clone, unless of course you want a second copy of Oblivion to mess with.

Instead, install Nehrim as you normally would and then import it to mTES4. After Nehrim has been installed, it should be in a folder next to your \Oblivion folder named \SureAI\Nehrim. EG.

C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion
C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\SureAI\Nehrim

Open mTES4, click the Import Clone button and select the Nehrim folder. Click OK and you are done. You should now see at least your Original Copy and your Nehrim clones in the Detected Clones list.

Hold on, how come I've got so many different clones now!?

By this point you may have up to 4 clones! Hopefully you have read through this guide before doing anything instead of just blindly following along and you really did want to have 4 clones! :) If not then I suggest you read again. There is no harm in deleting the clones you don't want (from mTES4, don't just delete the folders), except that you may need to recreate them again later.