Backing up Oblivion
Edited 11/15/09 - added paths for Vista/Win7
Backing up does not involve some arcane process involving multiple floppies or CDs, Nor a tape drive and special software only useable by a geek. It is just a spare copy of important stuff that you keep in a different location for 'emergencies'.
That different location does not have to be any more than another folder on the same hard drive. Or it can be a folder on a different hard drive, on a USB stick or a CD.
First you will need a place to put your backup. This article assumes the simplest computer system, one with only one hard drive, the C:\ drive – where you will place your backup. Create a new folder, name it something obvious like Oblivion Backup
C:\Games\Oblivion Backup will work. This gets it out of the Oblivion folder where it will not be in the wayand will be easy to identify.
Now, find your data folder.
On an XP system where it is installed in the default location it is located in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion\data
On Vista or Win7 you will find it in the same place.
Copy, do not move the entire \data folder from the place you found it to the new folder. This may take a while if you have a lot of mods.
Now, find the .ini file and saves folder (where your saved games are located)
Using XP It is usually located in C:\Documents and settings\user name\My Documents\My Games\Oblivion
Vista and Win7 will be located in C:\Users\Your name\My Documents\My Games\Oblivion
It may be a good idea to copy all of the files there into your new folder. You may skip the saves folder if you are pinched for space – these are the saved games though and you may want a backup of them also.
Again, if you are backing up the saves folder this can take a long time so be patient.
If you decide to use a USB or CD, just make the new folder on them instead of your hard drive. And of course, there is no reason not to keep a copy of your backup in both places.
To restore the data – always copy, never move the \data folder back into the Oblivion folder. It is a good idea to erase the existing Oblivion\data folder before restoring, as that way you will be sure to have gotten rid of the problem that caused you to restore.
Over time, you will add and remove mods to the data folder. So you may need to back up again to include these changes. If you attach the date to each backup you may keep several versions available. Make subfolder in your Oblivion backup folder for each new date.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions on this procedure, or any corrections or changes you think may be needed for accuracy or ease of use.