Why is AoE2: DE putting a bunch of files on my SSD C:\ drive instead of my D:\ drive?

@RentableDwarfx brought this up in the Ask for Help section of the forum, but that area gets far less traffic/visibility than this Discussion area, and I think it’s worth discussion and more visibility.

The DE AoEs are putting a bunch of files on my C:\ drive which is SSD and has limited space. So far, they’re taking up about 2GB of storage. As do a lot of gamers, I try to reserve my C:\ SSD drive for operating system files only when/where possible.

Why are the AoE DEs doing this, and how do I make them stop? Is it a bug? Should devs be coding things differently so that when we install the games on the D:\ drive, they put most of these files over on that instead? My C:\ drive shouldn’t house all my subscribed mods, my D:\ drive should… the drive where I installed the game.

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Also, how do I properly get rid of the AoE3 DE Beta folder that I’m pretty sure I already ‘uninstalled’… but there is still 7MB across 15 folders in that folder. Can I just select them and delete, or is this indicating that there is some registry (i.e., regedit) bloat hanging out on my PC still from the beta?

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I don’t know, but this gives me a great idea. Next time I post my file folders for a tech question, gonna add an empty Age of Empires 4 Alpha folder right above my Half-Life 3 folder.

Really don’t know how I didn’t think of it earlier. Thank you, forum guy!

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Not just AOE 2 DE, lots of games throw the save files inside C drive instead of the drive you installed your games on. Idk why that’s a thing but what I want to say is AOE2 is not unique in this regard:

To save space, you can try to create symbolic link to a folder in your D drive so that all file written request would be redirected to D instead of C.

On a side note, 1TB SSD is expensive but not that much. I just throw my game inside a 1TB NVME SSD. No big deal.

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Usually games puts saves/mods and other stuff on Documents under the users. (For example Hearts of Iron 4, Europa Universalis 4)

Yes you can. Just select the folder and hold shift. Then press delete.

As I know regedit is like a brain, confusing and useless stuff can be there. If you really care a few regedit keys format your computer and reinstall every programs. Don’t touch it unless you are playing with Virtual Machine.

You are right these files must be putable in its drive.

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that file stores all your mods, you must have a lot of mods downloaded if it reached 2 gigabytes

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This is standard procedure for the majority of games and applications these days.

Most software is installed into C:\Program Files\ by default, which is a protected system folder that cannot be written to without the program having explicit administrator privileges, as such, the game cannot assume that it has write permissions to its installation folder when it needs to write data such as your local player profile, your saved games/replays, and the mods you are subscribed to.

Because of this, windows provides an environment variable to the user’s default folder (called %userpath%, which in most cases resolves to C:\Users\<username>\) that the game can use to store additional data without needing administrator permissions.

It looks like the DE games use %userpath%\Games\ to store their local data, many other programs use %userpath%\AppData\Local, or more conveniently this is also stored as %appdata%, if you navigate to that folder you will likely see many non-microsoft applications that you have installed probably have their own data folders in there, as is my case:

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And last but not least, don’t forget that the %SystemDrive%\ProgramData folder is also used to store application related user shared data.

Through settings in the new Xbox App you can also adjust were all games main installation files are stored. Saved games are usually stored per user and most times you will find a subfolder below the user documents folder containing some user specific files.

There are ways to move your complete Documents folder as well as other libraries to a secondary drive too. DuckDuckGo is your friend.

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Thanks for the details! Good info, I didn’t know all of that.

I’ve felt Steam games are a bit different, though. I had checked my other Steam games before posting, and the vast majority of them – including AoE2: HD – keep their save files in the "Steam > steamapps > common" folder of my D:\ drive (where I install Steam games to). In fact, AoE2:HD has about 1GB of saved game files there.

So, I guess my feeling was: if AoE2:HD’s saves (and mods?) and the majority of other game saves exist there on my D:\ in the Steam folder, why don’t AoE2:DE’s?

As for Program Files being a protected system folder… is that a good/desirable thing, in your opinion? And if that’s the case, games should maybe start asking us under advanced installation options, “Where do you want to put your saved games and mod files to?” so we can specify a drive/folder of our choosing, rather than games continually defaulting to the C:\ drive.

Or, better yet, if we specify a D:\ drive installation, then just have the game make the folder(s) you mentioned on our D:\ drive. (I manually made some of these folders on my D:\ drive hoping games would see them and use them, but they don’t.) It makes no sense to me that if we install the game on D:\ drive, that the game (or any other program) would find it necessary to drop a bunch of game-related files on the C:\ drive. I realize some deep files may need to go on C:\ drive, but superficial ones like saved games, preferences, cfg files, and mods? Nope; I see no need.

I’ve noticed this for non-Steam games over the years, and it’s a bit annoying. I hope us gamers can have a litle more control at some point in the future.

I wonder why mods would need to be on C:? Can’t they exist on D:\ with the rest of the game files? I actually have about 690MB worth of AoE2:DE mods. Quite a few MB, but in terms of quantity, not too many, actually:

  • The Visible Corpses mod alone is 344MB in size.

  • 106MB of the mod folder is from official events; many/most of which I’ve disabled in-game:
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  • And another 100MB is from cool campaign/mission mods by PhillySouljah:
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Do AoE2:HD’s mods get put in its D:\ drive Steam folder if we installed the game there, or the C:\ drive instead? I don’t have any AoE2:HD mods, so can’t say. I do see a “mods” folder there on my D:\ , though:
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On the contrary, I have 1.2GB of AoE2:DE saved games in my C:\ drive folder. That’s what’s taking up most of the 2GB of space. Over the years, these numbers will just keep inflating.

I tried to do this by manually creating Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders on my D:\ drive to install games to. Any time a game wants to install to either of those folders on the C:\ drive during setup, I just point them to the D:\ equivalent instead. I also manually created AppData folders on my D:\ drive, which, of course, no programs are aware of or try to utilize. As well, for Steam, I installed it entirely on my D:\ drive – or at least as much goes there as I could make happen.

Yeah, the only saving grace of all this is the price of SSDs will likely go down over time. My 500MB one now will likely be an ancient relic in 5 years, so I guess I’ll just have to upgrade it then… and also be careful to find every little nook and cranny of my C:\ drive that games are dropping saved games and mod files to.

And in 5-10 yrs time, maybe we won’t even have PCs or consoles as we know them anymore. We’ll be playing games entirely through the cloud. So, will I even need that new SSD in 5 years? :stuck_out_tongue:

LOL! Thanks for letting me know. I see another AoE3:DE Beta folder there that didn’t get deleted when I uninstalled it months ago. Guess I’ll manually delete them. Fortunately, they’re empty… but still.

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Idk if you notice, but default stream library folder is “%systemdrive%\Program Files (x86)”. Then players add wherever they desire to steam for library folder. Another thing worth noticing is AOE2DE was developed in 2020 with all the modern OS. They can’t assume they have access to the “Program Files (x86)” folder like mentioned by other people. Thinking about other gazillion user customisable installation paths is not part of developers job. They will either throw it to games installation folder, or throw it to user profess folder. AOE2 was developed back in 1999, with Windows 98/XP in mind. Those systems did not have the UAC thing so they default to wherever the game went, which is considered unsafe these days.

If game save location can be configured by users, Steam would need to ask devs offer this option, and an extra pop up would need to be created for users to pick game save files location. Guess what? 99% just click default and move on, because they have 1TB SSD or they just don’t care. For me, this is so trivial that I don’t even mind that much. Oh, some games, put save file inside ur user “Saved Games” folder, and maps to ProgramData folder, and mods to “Documents” folder. Good luck trying to find those without using Google lol.

TLDR, path selection is a nice to have but considered non-critical feature. With game development being the top priority, it is understandable that devs don’t bother thinking too much on path selection, at least for me.

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This is definitely desirable, having to explicitly give access to system files to a program is a good way of making sure the user knows what they’re doing, games have absolutely no need to have unfettered access to your computer’s system files outside of their initial installation process, this should be a red flag otherwise. Malware developers would love for this to not be case for obvious reasons.

As for the rest of your post, there is no easy answer, there is an infinite amount of different configurations that users could have on their computer for various reasons, you can’t even assume that C is the system drive as a user can change that at will, adding more and more configuration options at installation is likely to just confuse the user (e.g. who knows how big modfiles are and that it would be a problem for your particular configuration before they’ve even played the game?).

More importantly, Windows is a multi-user operating system (as is every other major OS), meaning that a single computer can be used by multiple users, and software applications should be able to handle storing different configurations per user. If you store all your files alongside the game installation, you can no longer store different configurations per logged in user.

Steam handles this for you by storing your saved data and other game-specific configuration on the cloud based on your login credentials, which is then synced to your steam folder when you log in as a different user (or on a different computer), it does this by running a separate service in the background that has admin privileges, you can see this in the details tab of your task manager:
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You will love this CMD one-liner if you want to search for certain files or folders fast and recursively.
Open a command prompt and type dir /s /b *games* and press enter.
Next time replace games for anything else (or like something.ext) that matters and got lost somewhere you didn’t even know it existed.

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Ooooh, I like that, PCS70! That’s awesome. I love learning simple yet effective commands/scripts like this. I’m going to write this one down. Thank you!! And it seems SO much faster than the built-in Win10 folder search thing that seems to always take forever and give not-to-great results. This one:
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Right on, Fano0517. Great info! I shall officially relax my energies regarding my sadness of AoE files appearing on my SSD C:\ drive :smiley:

I really appreciate everyone’s expertise and thoughts! Hopefully a year from now, AoE stuff won’t be consuming 50% of my C:\ drive hahaha

Also don’t forget after Windows upgrades to use the Disk Cleanup Tool. If you are tight on free disk space running it with elevated system privileges (right click and choose run as admin) offers you to cleanup your previous old Windows installation.

If you would like to examine more specific the usage of disk space on your system drive or any other drive I would recommend to use the WinDirStat tool. It’s very helpfull to spot where the big chunks are and which folders use up the most of your available disk space.

WinDirStat - Windows Directory Statistics

I have a 2 TB SSD at the moment, but it’s split up in two partitions. A system partition of around 500 GB and what’s left for data. On my Santa wish list for sure a 4 TB or 8 TB SSD, but other things are more important at the moment. :santa:

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Do you mean when Win10 does patch updates every once every month or two? Or do you instead mean when you do a major Windows upgrade, from, say, Win7 to Win10?

I assume the former, not the latter, but wanted to make sure.

Thanks for saying this. I actually just stumbled upon the Disk Cleanup Tool a week ago and used it!

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Both. You can use it to cleanup certain temporary files and folders, but also your whole download folder, watch out please :slight_smile: and older driver versions still stored on your system.

I meant the latter. After a feature upgrade (or new build release) of Windows 10 when launched with elevated permissions there will be an option to clean up your old Windows installation (indeed like with Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrade). Only when you have lack of free space before upgrade already (like 40 GB, I thought 30 GB of free diskspace is minimal requirement to upgrade). So having small system disk it helps to launch it as administrator and cleanup your previous Windows version.

But only clean up if the new version and all applications are running fine of course. I would recommend to stay 3 to 6 months behind current release as I feel it’s like the most stable and secure sweet spot.

They have made it more easy now to suspend a feature upgrade as you need to confirm the installation seperately.

Also it’s nice to see the optional new driver update selection implemented and very good that the important ones (chipset) are done automagically already.

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I just came across this support article, figured I’d put it here for future onlookers. In it, there are these quotes:

Note that your Save files, Recorded Games, and Crash Reports will still save to your C: drive, and MUST remain there to be accessible in-game.

and

Note that moving your game off the C: drive may result in performance issues. If you notice a negative impact on your game, consider moving it back to your primary hard drive.

The support page:

  1. You just have to keep the file path the files can be wherever.
  2. I think they write this because a lot of people use a slower HDD as secondary drive not because there are actual issues. It should even be faster because the system and other applications are already using the main drive.

Also the Microsoft store doesn’t allow you to choose any drives it only allows drives that have a letter assigned to them because they forgot that Windows support mount points. Thanks Microsoft. I have to have my Microsoft Store Games (only Forza Horizon 3/4) on my main drive because I use a mount point for my second drive. Steam supports that because I can choose a path.

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Good point. You still could create a VHDX file inside that mountpoint and attach it as a real disk drive. Then you should be able to move MS Store apps there. PowerShell is your friend here.

If you actually went and made those folders, you could have just added the symbolic link necessary to tell the system about it. Your games don’t go around checking random folder you make.
This should do the trick:

  1. Move the files from “C:\Uesr\Username\Games\Age of Empires 2 DE” to where ever you want to store them. Say “D:\Games\AOE2DE stuff”
  2. Delete the original empty folder. Now create a symbolic link. In command prompt this can be done with
    mklink /D "C:\Uesr\Username\Games\Age of Empires 2 DE" "D:\Games\AOE2DE stuff"

edit: If you are using the windows powershell, you will have to use the more elaborate looking
new-item -Path "C:\Uesr\Username\Games\Age of Empires 2 DE" -ItemType SymbolicLink -Value "D:\Games\AOE2DE stuff"

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