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Default Skyrim Saves Location

The default Skyrim save directory is located on your System Drive. Normally, this will be:

“c:\users\<user-name>\My Documents\my games\skyrim\saves\”.

If your system hard drive is a massive multi-terabyte storage device, then it surely doesn’t matter. But, if your system drive is a tiny 40 gigabyte Solid State Drive (SSD) like mine is, then it becomes a huge problem.

Currently, I have only begun the Skyrim epic and my game saves amount to a paltry ~50 megabytes. I have read and seen first-hand that as time goes on these files grow. This is an understandable consequence of game play as more information needs to be saved as time goes by.

I have not been able to find an option within the Skyrim game, nor within its initialization files to correct this problem. If anyone knows a solution other than the one I propose, then I would certainly like to hear about it. Please leave a comment below.

Windows, Libraries, and Shortcuts

Anyone who has experienced Windows for any length of time is aware of shortcuts. These are little files that point to the actual program/application/game. They multiply on your desktop like rabbits. You can tell them apart from the real thing. You know, that cute little arrow on the icon?

Windows 7 introduced the concept of Libraries. (It may have begun in Vista; I don’t know a thing about Vista so I don’t know. Is that redundant?)  A Library is basically a shortcut to a directory instead of to a program. Same concept. They call them Symbolic Links instead of Shortcuts.

The whole idea here is that you have a program or directory located in one place and making the whole system think it’s somewhere else. That’s what Libraries and shortcuts do.

Let’s Fool Skyrim (and anything else)

What we are going to here is move the Skyrim game saves actual location (to a big storage drive) without letting Skyrim know about it. Sneaky, huh?

[important]Note: What I describe below can be used to accomplish the same results with any program that insists on placing all its files on your tiny SSD. You must make backups before you attempt this in order to protect yourself from any errors that may occur.[/important]

What we’re going to do is copy the directory we want to move to a new storage device; for example, your huge terabyte drive. Then we’re going to tell Windows to create a link to that directory so the original program (Skyrim in this case) doesn’t ‘know’ about it.

Skyrim will still ‘think’ it’s saving to the same location it has always saved to. Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha…

Here’s how to do it and several steps are involved:

For this example, I will be using Drive C: as the original system drive, and Drive D: as the destination. You will need to adjust the following paths to suit your unique configuration.

Step 1:

Copy the Skyrim game save directory to your new location:

From: “c:\users\<user-name>\My Documents\my games\skyrim\saves\”

To: D:\Saves

Step 2:

Rename the original directory:

From: “c:\users\<user-name>\My Documents\my games\skyrim\saves\”

To: “c:\users\<user-name>\My Documents\my games\skyrim\saves.bak\”

Step 3:

Open a Command Prompt with Administrator Privileges

  • Click Start Button
  • Click All Programs
  • Click Accessories
  • Right-Click Command Prompt
  • Choose Run as Administrator

You will will be shown a window like this:

Note: Your user name will vary unless you’ve made the wise choice of using ‘Richard’. :-)

cmd-prompt-image

Step 4:

Make the link

Here is the tricky part. You must type this in correctly or this simply won’t work – hence the previous advice for making a backup.

For all the mklink information you’ll need, here’s the WikiPedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_symbolic_link

You must make sure that your paths are correct. Here’s an example based on our previous assumptions:

mklink /d “c:\users\<user-name>\My Documents\my games\skyrim\saves\” “D:\saves”

[important]Note: If you get it wrong because of typos or any other reason, then you will get an error message. Not to worry. Pinpoint the error and try again. Pay close attention to detail. Syntax is everything. Computers see spaces as characters. Don’t ignore them, the computer doesn’t.[/important]

Step 5:

Let’s See If It Works

  • Open Windows Explorer or your favorite file manager
  • Navigate to the directory of the original Skyrim game save directory and you should see a Saves directory with the cute little arrow identifying it as a link
  • Click on this and you should see a list of your Skyrim game saves
  • If this works, fire up Skyrim and make sure it sees all the Game Saves.
  • If this works you may now delete the Save Games directory on your expensive little SSD freeing up a whole lot of disk space

Conclusion

Congratulations!

You have just given your SSD a new lease on life.

The bottom line here is that you want to take control of how files are stored on your computer. This is essential if you have a small SSD.

With an SSD installed on your computer it is vital that you keep not only Windows, but all the other programs that you use, from eating up premium disk real estate.

Store programs and all their respective data on a drive other than your System Drive. This is good advice not only for SSDs, but for any organized file management system.

It’s a good idea from a backup viewpoint as well because you can manage the sizes and locations of your data.

[important]Advice: Keep the System, Programs and Data separate to stay organized.[/important]

Happy Tweaking!

Richard