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beginner questions about STEP setup

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#1 rothbardian

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 01:19 AM

First off, thanks so much for creating STEP!  What an amazing resource.

 

I'm about to embark on my first install of Skyrim and STEP, and I have a few questions that cropped up from the setup reading I've done here:

 

1) The Core and Legendary Edition guides seem geared around using BOSS/BUM, but I'm reading elsewhere here that BOSS is outdated and we should be using LOOT.  Is it OK to use LOOT instead?  Any gotchas?

 

2) The guides also say to use DDSopt.  Is using DDSopt a suggestion or a requirement?  For reference my machine has SLI GTX 780M with 4GB GDDR5.

 

3) I read in the Core guide that Wrye Bash has been largely superseded by Mod Organizer...  But that Wrye Bash is still used to make "bashed patches".  I tried wading through the Wrye Bash guide, but I still don't have a good understanding of what a bashed patch is and why we need to make them. 

 

4) When I spend the 10-15(?)+ hours to download and install Skyrim and all these STEP mods and the related utilities for managing them, is there a way to back up all this work so that I can transfer the freshly completed STEP install package to a new machine?  I might trade in my laptop for a desktop in a couple months, and the idea of starting all this from scratch is kind of horrific.  I understand the concept of making a backup of the vanilla Skyrim Directory per the Skyrim Installation Guide.  But what about after I install MO, BOSS/BUM (or LOOT?), Wrye Bash, SKSE, TES5Edit, ENB, and a huge pile of mods?  Is there a way to snapshot all this stuff to an external drive so it can be transferred to a new machine easily?  (I have the wonderful program Beyond Compare if that helps.)

 

5) I find the 'cleaning ESMs' sections in the Legendary guide to be fairly confusing.  Is there a way to avoid having to do this by opting out of using certain mods? 

 

6) The Core guide references ENBoost, but I've read that the lastest ENB already has ENBoost incorporated.  Just wanted to make sure that's true, i.e. that I don't need to separately install ENBoost.  Also it's a bit unclear which exact files I should download from enbdev.com.  Do I need this Antifreeze one?  Do I need the generic injector?  Or is this 0.254 file all I need?  If it matters, I plan to use the Vividian ENB recommended in the Legendary guide unless there's an updated recommendation forthcoming.

 

7) Lastly, the Core guide warns against installing the latest Mod Organizer.  Since several new versions of MO have been released since 1.1.2, I just wanted to ask if the STEP update that would allow the latest MO to be used was planned in the near future (and thus worth waiting for), or whether it's a ways off.  If it's a ways off, can I use the latetest MO if I don't use STEP patches or DDSopt?

 

Thanks in advance for any guidance.  It's very much appreciated.


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#2 Nozzer66

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 02:04 AM

1) The next version of the Step Guide, 2,2.9 will suggest using LOOT. If you want to get on board early, I think it would be fine.

 

2) DDSopt's just a suggestion. With that card you may not need worry. 

 

3) It's not hard once you get the hang of it to use Bash for the bashed patch. :)

 

4) You could probably just compress and save Mod Organizer's downloads directory as a backup. That's what I've done.

 

5) Will leave that for the experts....

 

6) The 0.254 file should do the trick. Well the files you get from it will, anyway.

 

7) The latest Mod Organizer, 1.2.9 is fine. Problems all fixed.


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#3 Kelmych

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 03:05 AM

1) Make sure you use the latest version of LOOT

2) You can come back later and optimize textures if you want to. It provides some VRAM and GPU use reduction, some texture quality improvements, and in some cases a small amount of additional stability.

3) the bashed patch is used to automatically take care of conflict resolution for some of the records in the plugin. The installation instructions for WB are in the MO guide, and in the forums you will see the Mod Organizer support pages which should have more on this.

4) We should add this to the Skyrim Installation guide. Parts of this may already be described in the some of the guides. I'll look.

5) The 2.2.9 guide that will be released shortly has a little better description of cleaning mods, and there are additional instructions being developed to make this better. Meanwhile the same instructions can be look at the Dawnguard page on the wiki. It has cleaning instructions for Dawnguard.esm, and the same instructions apply to any plugin (.esm or .esp) being cleaned. Yes it is important to clean plugins that BOSS or LOOT (whichever you use) say need cleaning. 

6)It depends on whether you just want the memory management capability (ENBoost) or a full ENB. The regular ENBs already include the ENBoost capability.



#4 rothbardian

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 08:14 AM

Thanks so much Kelmych and Nozzer for the info.  You solved most of my questions, but I'd like to clarify a few things:

 

- Based on your recommendations, I'll use the latest LOOT and forgo BOSS/BUM altogether.  The STEP guides give extensive directions throughout about BOSS updating, for example: [color=#FFA500;]BOSS Masterlist Update Required[/color]: (Updating Guide) RelightingSkyrim-Full.esp AFTER Relighting Skyrim.esp

With LOOT, what do I need to do?  In other words, do I need to just run it once after all the mods are installed, or continually run it during the setup process?

 

- Regarding my 4th question about taking a snapshot of a full, clean STEP install so I can move it to a new machine without starting from scratch, I would *hugely* appreciate some more detail on exactly what I need to do.  It seems that saving MO's downloads directory would be a start, but what about all this stuff about mod cleaning, making bashed patches, and the installation and configuration of the utilities (MO, LOOT, Wrye Bash, SKSE, TES5Edit, ENB)?  There's got to be a smart way to approach this, but at my beginner knowledge level it's overwhelming and I'm intimidated to start down the long setup road if I'm going to have to largely start from scratch again in a couple months.

 

- One of the reasons I'm hesitant about using DDSopt (especially if 4GB vram is sufficient) is that I've read it can reduce image quality.  For example, in the description for Skyrim Realistic Texture Overhaul, the author warns:  ATTENTION: DO NOT USE DDSOPT WHILE USING THIS MOD, IT WILL DECREASE THIS MODS QUALITY DRASTICALLY, MY MOD IS OPTIMIZED FROM RELEASE.  Is this mod the only exception?

 

- The Legendary guide says to install the Creation Kit.  If I'm not going to be making or modifying mods myself, is installing it still a requirement?

 

- Regarding my ENB questions, since you say I can install ENBoost in addition to ENB 0.254, I'm still not sure what getting "memory management capability" means for me in practical terms.  Will installing ENBoost give me improved performance or stability, or is this more of a benchmarking / informational thing? 

 

- Also regarding ENB, the Legendary guide recommends the Vividian ENB, but I notice it's very niche at 15,000 d/l's versus RealVision ENB at over a million.  Is it OK for me to use RealVision with a STEP install, or are there some incompatibilities or issues to be aware of?  They both look amazing to me, and I'm just figuring that RealVision has probably been tested and refined more due to its massive popularity.  If there's another ENB choice you guys think is the way to go, please let me know.

 

- Another ENB question:  Do I need Enhanced Lighting, regardless of what ENB I use?  Or have those improvements been wrapped into ENB too?

 

- ENB Manager and Changer -- this is still recommended?  (I ask because it looks like it hasn't been updated since 2012.)

 

- Another ENB question:  If I choose RealVision ENB, do I still need to follow these 'mod merge' steps from the Legendary guide?

[color=#FFA500;]TES5Edit Mod Merge Required[/color]: (Merging Guide)
Files to merge:

  • Vividian - Weather Patch Vanilla.esp
  • Vividian - Weather Patch CoT.esp
  • Vividian - Extended Weathers - CoT.esp
  • Vividian - Torches Preset.esp
  • Vividian - Wearable Lanterns Preset.esp

Output file:

  • Vividian ENB.esp
Posted Image Notice:This merge requires Wearable Lanterns to be installed.

 

Thanks again for the help.  Feeling a little less overwhelmed, despite all the questions.


Edited by rothbardian, 07 July 2014 - 08:20 AM.

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#5 Vaportrails

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 10:08 AM

The STEP install and the 'Legendary' install are two entirely different approaches to modding Skyrim. By that I mean that you should not be doing BOTH. The STEP installation is the official STEP community way of modding Skyrim safely and with stability.

 

The 'Legendary' edition that you are referring to is a custom mod installation procedure that has been created by Neovalen (who I believe is a staff member of STEP; not sure). So, I just want to be clear that you should not be installing STEP Core and then installing the Skryim Revisited stuff. They are different approaches. Use one or the other.

 

So, for the Skryim Revisited: Legendary Edition installation I think you will still want to use BOSSBUM until Neovalen officially starts using LOOT. This is because he has a lot of custom Conflict Resolution stuff that needs to be taken into account that I don't think LOOT can properly account for at this time. He uses quite a few custom user rules for BOSS which is where BUM comes into play.

 

In my personal opinion, a brand new beginner to the whole modding scene with Skyrim should start with the STEP Core installation. It is simple to use and understand and there are fewer moving parts. LOOT is easy to use, no manual conflict resolution, etc.


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#6 Vaportrails

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 10:21 AM

 

- Regarding my 4th question about taking a snapshot of a full, clean STEP install so I can move it to a new machine without starting from scratch, I would *hugely* appreciate some more detail on exactly what I need to do.  It seems that saving MO's downloads directory would be a start, but what about all this stuff about mod cleaning, making bashed patches, and the installation and configuration of the utilities (MO, LOOT, Wrye Bash, SKSE, TES5Edit, ENB)?  There's got to be a smart way to approach this, but at my beginner knowledge level it's overwhelming and I'm intimidated to start down the long setup road if I'm going to have to largely start from scratch again in a couple months.

I imagine this is possible to take a full install of everything you would need and transfer it to a new computer. However, I can see some problems.

 

You are correct that the downloads folder in MO is where all of the downloaded zipped files from the Nexus go. That folder can get quite large because of the amount of files needed for STEP.

 

Here's what I would do. On the new computer, install Steam according to the guide, install Skyrim according to the guide, install MO inside the Skyrim directory, copy your MO/downloads folder to the new machine's MO directory overwriting the new installs MO downloads directory. Then go through a fresh install of everything, using the already downloaded files. This way you don't have to download them AGAIN.

 

I would advise against just copying the Skyrim folder from the old computer to the new. I'm just not sure what complications would arise from doing that. Because you're talking about moving not only Skyrim but also Wrye Bash, DDSopt, TES5Edit, etc. Although I'm sure there are experts with more knowledge that I here that could give you advice if that's the way you want to go. 

 

- The Legendary guide says to install the Creation Kit.  If I'm not going to be making or modifying mods myself, is installing it still a requirement

I'm not entirely sure why Neovalen has included the install of the Creation Kit in his guide. From what I can tell it's not used at all. However, that doesn't mean that it won't be used in the future.


Edited by Vaportrails, 07 July 2014 - 11:06 AM.

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#7 Aiyen

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 11:15 AM

Guess I will cover your ENB questions. 

 

If you got the hardware to use ENBoost do it... what it does is to allow you to use more memory for textures then otherwise possible. If you do not use it you will CTD when you use many high detail textures. It is part of ENB as a whole. So when you download a preset based on v.254 it will be incorporated already. 

 

As for choice of ENB preset... most have a really low ratio even though they really nice pieces of work... many more so that Realvision imo. In fact Realvisions popularity is its biggest issue... it has been "stagnant" for ages, since well... if it aint broke dont upgrade it. This also goes for performance.. since realvision is stuck on older files it kinda is not able to compete with more optimized pieces of work... vividan being among these! 

But ultimately it all comes down to what visuals you want.. try out a few different presets and see which you like more... and decide if you are willing to pay the performance cost those visuals require. 

 

 

As for Enhanced ligthing then yes.. you always need it (The image space part only) for all presets! If it ever hurts to use it then it just means that you have a preset that is not really polished to begin with. 

 

 

For the mergeing then no.. since if you use files that are dedicated to a specific ENB preset, you most likely wont get a fine tuned effect on another. 



#8 Neovalen

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 11:55 AM

Creation Kit is included as in the past there have been times it needed to be used. Also, it never hurts to be pre set up to create mods of your own in the future.
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#9 rothbardian

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 08:13 PM

Thanks for the all responses!  I feel like I'm plugging leak after leak in my tiny but growing dam of Skyrim setup knowledge.

 

Questions that are still outstanding:

 

1) ENB Manager and Changer -- is this still recommended and safe to use?  I ask because it looks like it hasn't been updated since 2012.

 

2) If I install ENB 0.254 and Vividian ENB, do I need to separately download and install ENBoost?  In other words, will doing that give me additional performance/stability beyond whatever ENBoost stuff has already been incorporated into 0.254?  (People responded to this question but I'm still not really clear on the answer.)

 

3) One of the reasons I'm hesitant about using DDSopt (if having 4GB vram is sufficient) is that I've read it can reduce image quality.  For example, in the description for Skyrim Realistic Texture Overhaul, the author warns:  ATTENTION: DO NOT USE DDSOPT WHILE USING THIS MOD, IT WILL DECREASE THIS MODS QUALITY DRASTICALLY, MY MOD IS OPTIMIZED FROM RELEASE.  Is this mod the only exception?

 

4) If anybody else can give more insight on how to make a portable STEP install beyond copying the MO/downloads folder, that would be much appreciated as it appears there's a ton more setup work involved with all the utilities, the cleaning, making bashed patches, etc.

 

5) This question was answered but I didn't understand the answer:  If I use Vividian ENB per Neovalen's recommendation, is it mandatory to follow the 'mod merge' steps from his guide (which I don't really understand)?  Or is it required with his Legendary install but not the Core install?

 

6) The STEP guide gives extensive directions throughout about BOSS updating. But with LOOT, what do I need to do?  In other words, if I follow the Core install -- but using LOOT instead of BOSS/BUM -- what do I need to with LOOT throughout the install process?

 

7) Here are blanket statements I've derived from the answers I've received thus far.  Please speak up if I've misunderstood or there's a better solution:

- I should *not* use Boris Vorontsov's Antifreeze patch. 

- I should *not* use Boris Vorontsov's generic injector.

- The only download I need from Boris Vorontsov's site is ENB 0.254.

- I do not need to install the Creation Kit for installing STEP (if I'm not going to author mods).

- Making Bashed Patches is a must for a Core install, not a suggestion (though I still don't quite understand how I'll know when I need to make one).

- I should do the Core install since the Legendary install is substantially more complicated and not necessarily tested with LOOT.

 

Lastly, 2 new questions:

 

8) The Core guide mandates using Stable uGridsToLoad but doesn't appear to give a specific recommendation of what UGrids setting to use.  What's the current recommendation on this given a high end PC and all the other ENB and graphics mods that are used?

 

9)  I'd be thrilled to just stick with the Core install, except there's a small handful of mods I'm really excited about.  Can somebody confirm if some/all of these would be safe for me to install after(?) the Core install?  Any gotchas/special tricks?

 

Alternate Start

Interesting NPCs

Inconseqential NPCs (says it's compatible with Interesting NPCs)

Inigo

Vilja

Falskaar

Wyrmstooth

Vivid Landscapes All-in-One (Core just lists the moss but all the work looks exceptional)

Climates of Tamriel + Weather Patch (Core doesn't mention CoT, but it appears to be integral to using Vividian ENB.) 

 

Thanks again so much for everyone's help.  Hopefully these answers will be useful to other beginners who are struggling like me to wrap their head around all this awesomeness. :)


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#10 Vaportrails

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 09:15 PM

1) For any STEP installation, the answer is NO. For Neovalen's Skyrim Revisited: Legendary Edition, the answer is YES. Doesn't matter how old it is, it still works just fine.

 

2) ENBoost is built into any later release of ENB so the 0.254 version is just fine. You don't need ENBoost ON TOP of the regular ENB.

 

3) Again, you're referring to Skyrim Revisited (different from STEP). DDSopt is useful anywhere it tells you to use it for that guide. It's not used in the STEP install at least for 2.2.8. For 2.2.9 I believe they are using it to optimize the skyrim files; I can't remember.

 

5) If you use Vividian you'll want to use the 'mod merge' instructions. Any other ENB that you use in place of Vividian, you won't need to use the mod merge instructions. Those are specific to Vividian. However, Neovalen's guide is setup for Vividian. Replace mods at your own risk.

 

6) STEP 2.2.8 does not have any BUM rules in place. You're looking at Neovalen's Skyrim Revisited I'm assuming. DO NOT USE LOOT FOR SKYRIM REVISITED. Use BOSSBUM.

STEP 2.2.8 also uses BOSS but does not use BUM. STEP 2.2.9 (which will be release soon) uses LOOT.

 

7)I'm not sure how I can say this any other way: STEP Core is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the 'Legendary Edition' you're referring to. You're getting them mixed up.

 

8)Just leave it at whatever it's defaulted to.

 

9) Using the Core install and then installing those mods after you've installed Core 'should' be fine.

 

Finally, yes, you should do the STEP Core install but wait until 2.2.9 comes out (should be within a week or so from what I hear).

 

STEP Core/Extended - a stable and strenuously tested setup of Skyrim that is officially supported here on the STEP Community Forums.

     - should remain in it's officially supported state for many months (2.2.8 has been out for 5 or so MONTHS without any major change). Recommended for beginners to modding Skyrim.

 

Skyrim Revisited: Legendary Edition - not related to STEP in any way except that it has a similar methodology in installation guidelines.

     - changes FREQUENTLY. From day to day even. Is only supported by Neovalen (who does an excellent job). Is constantly worked on and tweaked. Again, on a day to day basis. Only recommended for advanced users.


Edited by Vaportrails, 07 July 2014 - 09:52 PM.

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#11 deadbody

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 09:17 PM

3) In the STEP guide, DDSOpt is mainly recommended for optimizing the vanilla textures to reduce file size and the impact on VRAM, as well as correcting the occasional error.

As already stated, it is not necessary with your setup, as you don't need to save the last Megabyte of VRAM. Also, the process is quite time consuming, took me well over an hour with an overclocked i7 and all the files on an SSD.

 

Regarding other mods like SRTO: You don't use DDSOpt in that sense that you have it runnning while playing, like a mod or SKSE, it's a tool you use once to optimize a mod to then use the mod. Much like TESVEdit for example. So all the mod author is saying in this case, is that he already optimized his Mod and there is no need for further optimization and you can just install it.

 

8) I'm no official so I can't give any official recommendation but I can tell you my experience:

I used "7" before this mod as well as ENBoost and Sheson's MP existed and never had problems whilst running around 70-80 Mods, NOT using any visual ENB. My former GTX570 ran that at around 30fps.

I now tried "9" with STEP 2.2.9 and it also worked without a problem, my frame rate beeing around 40 - 50, with said i7 and GTX670 4GB SLI, again, no visual ENB (just ENBoost).

 

For my taste, values above "9" don't really enhance your atmosphere anymore, as you would seldomly be able see this far. But they really start impacting your performance badly.

 

Finally, there is nothing more stable (and ugly) than "5" and with ENB I wouldn't go too high. Hope that helps.


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#12 Nozzer66

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 09:57 PM

With 8) I use UGridstoload at 7 and it's working dead perfectly as far as I can tell, running Skylight ENB and all the bells and whistles.


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#13 rothbardian

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 11:03 PM

Thanks for the guidance everybody. 

 

Vaportrails, I think you misunderstood something I wrote on #7.  On the last bullet point, I was saying that I'm going to follow your recommendation to *not* do the Legendary install and to stick with Core instead (plus, hopefully, the handful of additional mods I listed).

 

I'll also follow your recommendation to wait for 2.2.9 Core.  Does anyone know if 2.2.9 will incorporate Climates of Tamriel?  It seems like it enriches the vanilla experience and is meant to be used with most ENB packages, so if it's not going to be part of Core, I'm wondering if it's for content reasons or if it's because it introduces stability problems.

 

My other question about the upcoming 2.2.9 is if it could list a few ENBs that have been vetted as stable and don't require extra steps like mod merging.  Aesthetics are subjective of course, but for newcomers like me, having a few vetted ones to choose from that perform decently, won't mess up your Core install, and don't require mod merging to make work would be incredibly helpful and appreciated.  It was a revelation for me that Realvision is relatively stagnant and has worse performance than many newer 'niche' ENBs. 

 

I think the only big question left for me is to what degree it's possible to do a portable STEP Core install. 

 

Anxiously awaiting 2.2.9...thanks again for the help and for this amazing undertaking!


Edited by rothbardian, 07 July 2014 - 11:04 PM.

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#14 Vaportrails

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 10:03 AM

Ok, sounds good. I think you'll have a much better experience installing STEP Core. Then later, once you've got the handle of how the mods are interacting with each other, you should definitely try out Skyrim Revisited.

 

It doesn't look like 2.2.9 includes Climates of Tamriel. However, with every install I've ever done for Skyrim (including STEP) I've always installed Climates of Tamriel afterwards. Should be fairly straight forward on the install.

 

I'm sure there are plenty of people that have installed ENB's after the initial STEP install. Check out the ENB Support forum here on these forums. I was using RealVision for quite some time. I don't use any ENB's nowadays. Just the ENBoost. That's also a very straight forward process. 

 

Regarding #5 above (I just reread it and understand what you're trying to do now): It sounds like you're trying to use the STEP Core method and then installing stuff (like Vividian) using Neovalen's guide. In that case, I don't think you'll need to follow the 'mod merge' section. Those instructions assume you've installed the Wearable Lanterns mod. STEP Core doesn't include that mod so you would have issues.


Edited by Vaportrails, 08 July 2014 - 10:11 AM.

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#15 Aiyen

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 10:19 AM

CoT will not be part of Core because it overwrites and replaces the vanilla weather systems... which is not what CORE is about. There are no stability issues what so ever. 

 

As for ENB´s then it is simply a matter of trying them out and see if you like them. Yes it is rather time consuming, but there are large lists of screenshot compares etc to help ya out. Also most ENB´s have somewhat up to date youtube reviews you can check out. 

 

For the portability:

As long as you copy your profiles and mods folder.. or just your entire MO folder then everything is portable... or at least very easy to setup again since all the files are present. 





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