Evaluating Your Addon Folder

If you’re like me, your addon folder looks a gremlins were fed after midnight and dumped in a swimming pool.  Not only will you have addons that you remember downloading “just to try,” but you’ll also have things in there making you wonder why you ever downloaded something with a name so bizarre and unhelpful as AI.  What the heck is AI?

Well guess what folks, dooms-day time is a perfect time to get a grip on your personal mess, clean out some folders, round up the stoaways, and make sure that you’re really ready to rock when Cataclysm rolls around.  As much as we like to delude ourselves, not all addon programmers will be ready to roll out updated addons on the day of release, so it’s best to be prepared to figure out what you need to make your play time the best it can be… even if you’re missing your favorite companions. In addition, while you could clean out your addon folder and clean up old settings any old time, it’s nice to walk into a new expansion with a sparkly clean and ready to download interface folder, especially as you update every mod you use!

Make a List

Now, you don’t want to purge anything that you actually want in order to finish out your raiding/questing/flower-picking bliss, but you do want to know what can be safely expunged now, and what is ok to let go in case of emergency failure come the new expansion.

I’d suggest listing all your addons out and prioritizing them in some semblance of fashion, such as:

  • Vital: If it breaks, I consider burning down my addon developers home.
  • I love it: Although I don’t need it for my most often-used tasks, it makes my life so much easier that if I don’t have it, I choose to forgo certain activities (roleplaying, crafting, dungeons with idiots) until it’s repaired.
  • Meh: I downloaded it as a whim and never quite got around to deleting it.  I think I might have used it sometime this year.
  • What IS this thing?  I don’t know what it does or if I’ve ever used it.

Test Your Honesty

So you’ve got your list into 4 discreet hunks, and now you’re ready to start deleting, or are you?  Do you have 90 addons in category one, and one in each of the remaining?  If you find it hard to know what addons you actually consider vital, and which you just associate with vital tasks, do yourself a huge favor and turn them all off.  Your computer will not implode.  WoW is capable of booting without the assistance of a single mod.  I know its hard to believe for people like you and me, but trust me, it’ll be ok.

Make a lap around Dalaran, take a flight to the tourney, and pick up a quest or two.  Fight a few mobs.  If you’re like me, you are already mumbling obsenities at your screen at this point, and perhaps have a little bit more perspective on need.

Activate addons singly.  When you feel confident enough, join a random dungeon or heroic, and re-evaluate.  Turn on anything else you need.  Join a raid.  Done turning things on?  Good.  You have now discovered your vital addons.  Now, if you don’t dungeon much, you might instead spend an evening crafting or join a battleground instead.  The point here is to make sure that you are tagging your vital addons as those that you use every single day and likely, multiple times a day.

Things I consider absolutely vital:

  • Unit Frames
  • Bar replacement
  • Raid Frames

I’ve discovered with those three things, I can enjoy my main activities (questing and dungeons) without immediately logging out.  You’ll notice this differs considerably from my core items marked in my user interface page, and that’s because, while those addons are core to the look of my interface, they sure aren’t core to my play style.  Update your list as necessary, because next we start the purge.

What’s Safe to Clean?

When you download an addon, you get files in a couple of places.  The first place is the location that you download the files from the provider to \WorldofWarcraft\Interface\Addons.  Here you’ll find a nice compact folder that contains all the data files that the addon uses to work while you’re playing in WoW.  The second location is in your \WorldofWarcraft\WTF\Account\<accountname>\Saved Variables.  Addons that save information across characters will place their data files here.  If you have multiple accounts (or if multiple people have played on their account from your computer) then you’ll have multiple <accountname> folders.

If you’ve got an addon that saves profiles by character, you’ll actually have to go a step further, and investigate \WorldofWarcraft\WTF\Account\<accountname>\Saved Variables\<server>\<Character Name>\Saved Variables.  For character on every server has its own saved variable file, so it can be quite a long journey to actually expunge every trace of information on your character.

In the saved variable folders, you will find 2 files for every addon that has saved information: a .lua extension file, and a .bak extension file.

Now, a couple of things worth mentioning.  Removing the files for an addon from the addons folder will remove that addon from your list of available addons in the game list, and is more than sufficient for “cleaning up” load times.  Although I have pointed out how to reach and remove saved variables that linger from addons, whether you want to remove these files or not is going to be a personal choice.  Within these secondary files is the settings that you applied with a particular addon.  So lets say, you’ve spent a lot of time configuring a unit frame addon, but you want to see if you like another addon better.  If you do not delete these files, then you can return to the original unit frame addon without losing your character’s settings.  The files are quite small so in terms of storage space, you will not be saving yourself a ton of room by removing them.

However, since this is an expansion cleaning discussion, I’m going to assume that you are serious about scrubbing your system.  In that case, it doesn’t matter how much room it’s taking up, if you’re not using it IT HAS TO GO!  When it comes to deletion, you’ve still got options!  You can choose to manually delete files from the above places, or you can use your curse installer to remove them–just make sure to tell it to delete your saved settings if you want a full scrub–and it’ll take care of the rest.

Final Steps

Delete anything in the last two categories.  PURGE, PURGE, PURGE!  You might be finicky about deleting your “I think I used it once upon a time” addons, but trust me, if you don’t remember the last time you used it, it’s just taking up room.  Now all that remains is your vital and love addons.  Take your list of vital addons and check out WoWAce, Curse, and WoWInterface.  Look to see if your favorite projects are being worked on for the expansion.  While WoWInterface and Curse will have some type of working version (generally) of the addon in question, WoWAce has addon projects from alpha stage forward.  This should give you a good idea as to what is currently going to be available and working when Cataclysm goes live.

OMG!  My addon isn’t listed.  I must have unit frames.  Why have you forsaken me *hair pull*

Yes, it can happen.  Your favorite addon, maybe even your very first addon, may not be developed for the new expansion.  Maybe the author just doesn’t have a beta invite.  However, you want to be functional when Cata releases, so now is the time to expand your horizons.

If your unit frame mod does not have a current running beta version, and you cannot find a development page for version CATA! then you need to find a comparable replacement that is working live and download it!  You might have to download a couple of different kinds to find the one that works best for you, and you do not want to be standing around the goblin starting area for two days trying to decide which addon provides the functionality you need.  Addon developers aren’t paid people–they quit the game and have meltdowns just like the rest of the WoW player base, and to expect all of your addons to be functional and ready to roll for Cataclysm is not a good expectation.

Once you have your vitals covered, move on to your loves.  As with your vital list, be on the lookout for replacements (or improvements!) that you can test out now and take with you into Cataclysm if you can’t find a version that is currently being run or developed for the beta.  If you cannot find anything that matches, try to purge the addon.  Unlike your vital addons, you should be able to live without this addon, so try to wean yourself off the addiction now while you have time to make the adjustment without all the shininess of a new world to explore.



3 thoughts on “Evaluating Your Addon Folder

  1. Great post. This is something that I have done with each previous expansion, but I will admit that my add-on folder has grown immensely with this expansion.

    I would have to add though, that it may be beneficial to add a category for add-ons that fall into either the vital or love categories, that you just want to clean up the data. The category of add-ons that jump to mind are the auction add-ons, which store large amounts of data. These specifically may end up throwing off values if you do not purge the data.

    Other than that, good luck house-cleaning!

  2. It was educational to go on the PTR and see what addons have had some of their features duplicated in the updated UI (Power Auras and OmniCC spring to mind). I'm hoping I'll be able to shrink my addon folder post-patch (after broken addons have been fixed) without losing functionality.

  3. Nice post !

    I'm in the process of cleaning my UI and my addon folder for Cataclysm. At the moment, it's an absolute mess, as I'm also trying various raid leading mods.

    I'm doing like Kiwired, I went on the PTR and tried the default UI with my hunter and druid healer, then I knew what I needed. For the hunter, I need to see my new focus bar or I'm going crazy = I need a unitframe, and my debuffs on target (serpent sting, hunter's mark, explosive shot…) = I need quartz with the debuffs like I'm used to, I need some notice for Lock&load (the ingame power aura isn't enough) = I will have to get Power Aura. And running without OPie for my aspects or my mounts will drive me crazy…

    For the druid, the new raid UI is great, but without any clic-casting tool, it's still a nightmare to heal dungeons. I really don't know how I managed to level as resto to 70 without clic-to-cast. I really dislike the default frame up in the left corner, I like my UF to be under my character, so I'll need a unit frame mod, like for the hunter and all the other characters.

    The bar mod (I use Bartender)is not absolutely essential but I like to be able to move various bar, size them, make them transparent when not in use. It cleans the UI.

    After those essentials, I'll begin to list what addons I'd like and look for them in the updated for Cata mods list. I have mostly 2 categories : the raiding addons (I have a few more time for those) and the small addons that enable me to tweek my UI and make it more to my liking : various LDB addons, tooltips, vendor frames, utilities (like buggraber and bugsack) and so on.

    Oh, and by the way, I had the "OMFG my addon is not being updated" moment, as Shadowed stopped playing and the list of addons he's written is really long. I use SUF as unitframe for the so handy config panel. It seems I'll need to have a look at something else as I didn't see anywhere that he allowed anyone to update the addon. If you find any info on this I'd love to hear about it.

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