Oblivion reinstall procedure

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Bben46 Complete Reinstall Procedure for Oblivion

Revised 3/11/11 Add link to Moving Steam client

Revised 12/23/10 Update link for Bethesda Patches + added link to Revert to Vanilla article

Revised 6/9/2010 Fix a few spelling & syntax errors

Revised 5/3/2010 added some text to explain what the oblivion uninstaller actually does, and does not do. Revised to clarify some parts.

Revised 5/2/2010: Changed install location to C:\Games\Oblivion Thanks for the suggestion by Watdocdude

revised 7/8/09: Added fix for unable to reinstall by HemmyLane52

revised 4/3/09, added recommendation for System Restore per suggestion by Qwaxalot

Revised 3/9/09: modified the disclaimer.

I would appreciate any feedback on this as it is something I expect to post often and I hate to give bogus or useless information.

== For those who need to move the steam client: How to Move your Steam to another location Without having to reinstall anything. ==


You may not need a full reinstall - if you think your problem is caused by a mod, you may be able to do a revert to vanilla - this will wipe your data folder, then replace the original game files with no trace of any mods. It does not remove your saves - and it is completely reversible - Link


Even though this has worked for many people, You get a disclaimer, just like the big software companies use to limit liability. This is usually a last resort and your game is already trashed. I cannot be responsible for any damage you manage to do to your game when trying this. You are free to use this procedure and post it as you see fit. If you make any changes, please take responsibility for them and document your changes so people won't blame me. As far as I know, no computer, game or animals have ever been harmed by the indiscriminate use of this procedure.

It is also a good idea to create a system restore point before making any major changes to anything in your computer. A system restore point will not bring back a deleted Oblivion, but will save your existing Registry settings.

When you uninstall Oblivion it doesn't really uninstall everything. Then when you start adding mods before you have started the game, some things may not get initialized properly.

The game uninstaller ONLY removes those files placed by the original install from the disk. It does NOT remove the original folders placed by the installer (Bethesda softworks\Oblivion\Data). It does NOT remove your mods, save games or Oblivion.ini or the entries that the original installation of Oblivion placed in your Windows registry. It also does not remove helper programs such as OBSE, OBMM, Wrye Bash, The construction set or any other programs you have installed in the Oblivion folder, data folder or the save game folder. In fact, it leaves behind more than it removes.

If all of these left overs are not cleaned up they can come back to haunt you when you reinstall. If the problem was caused by a mod, that mod is still there. If it is a bad or corrupt Registry entry, it is still there. If it is a corrupt save, it is still there.


Here is my recommended procedure for uninstalling and reinstalling. Please follow it exactly, and don't skip any steps.

  • DO NOT delete the Oblivion.exe or the Oblivion folder as that will cause problems when you try to uninstall or reinstall - allow the game uninstaller to take care of it.
  • Uninstalling Oblivion - you gotta remove it completely before you can reinstall it.
  • DO NOT DELETE THE GAME FOLDERS YET! This is very important.If you delete them,it causes problems later.
  • If you have already deleted the game folders and now cannot install or uninstall, Try this fix:

Thanks to:HemmyLane52 for this fix

  1. Put the oblivion cd in the computer
  2. Just exit out of the oblivion launcher that pops up
  3. Go to my computer
  4. Right click the disk drive the the cd is in (mine is ;E) and click on Explore
  5. click on setup.exe
  6. Done!


My instructions assume you are using Windows XP and have installed Oblivion into the default location. If you are using Vista Win7 or Linux, the file locations may be different, however, the procedure will be the same.

For a full reinstall, first you can try to preserve your mods and save games. I recommend that you save them in a new folder with a new name. Create the new folder in C:\Backup_Oblivion - or any other name you will remember, just as long as it is not in the programs folder.

Then copy the data folder where your mods are to the new folder - do not move or erase them, copy them. And in the new folder, rename the \data folder to \olddata. Then copy and rename the folder that has your saved games and Oblivion.ini, C:\documents and settings\your user name\my documents\My Games\oblivion to something like \My games\Old Oblivion - this saves your saved games and the oblivion.ini file.

Now your original saved games & mods are backed up if you want to try to resurrect them later.

Then, using the original CD, NOT the Launcher on your Hard drive. Select uninstall.

After it completes the uninstall, reboot your computer - this is important as it allows Windows to remove some references to the original Oblivion.

Now delete the original game folder which contains everything

  • On WinXP it will be C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion
  • On Vista/Win7 it will be C:\Program files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Oblivion

The simplest way is to delete the Oblivion folder completely. The new install will re create the folder for you. This is especially important if you are installing to a new location on Vista and Win7. This will also remove all of the helper programs you have in the Oblivion folder. Such as OBMM, OBSE and some others.

Also delete the original save game folder located in

XP - C:\Documents and settings\your user name\My Documents\My Games\Oblivion.

Vista & Win7 - C:\users\your user name\My documents\my games\Oblivion. Again delete the Oblivion folder. This removes all saved games and the Oblivion.ini file So I hope you backed them up as recommended above.

Registry entries

Now to remove the registry entries that were left behind. If all else fails, this usually works to resurrect your game.

I do not recommend manually editing the registry unless you know what you are doing. A mistake here could make your entire computer unusable.

There are several good programs for removing left behind entries. The one I use is ccleaner. Be sure to reboot before using it, and again after. It is free and available here: Link

Once the registry is clean this would also be a good time to do a file clean up. Run the built in Windows 'Disk Cleanup' routine. If you used the ccleaner, most of this has already been done, but it won't hurt to do it anyway.

Now that everything is cleaned up and the trash has been taken out, do a full defrag on your hard drive to leave a large uncluttered area to reinstall to. This prevents your game from installing in a fragmented way, with parts scattered all over the drive. It also will speed up the install a little. It can take quite a while, but may speed up your game as well as the rest of your computer.

At this point Oblivion should not exist on your computer. You have a freshly cleaned and defragged hard drive plus a clean registry.


Again using the original CD, install Oblivion.

NOTE: If you are using Vista or Win7, DO NOT install to the default directory. Instead make a new directory I recommend C:\Games\Oblivion. Install Oblivion there to avoid the hassle with Vista UAC blocking mods. This is not a problem on WinXP so if you want to you can install to the default location. Or use the C:\Games\Oblivion.


Before adding any mods, patches, helper programs, Shivering Isles or anything else, start the game and make a save. This initializes some stuff that needs to be initialized, such as your monitor resolution, and creates a new Oblivion.ini file.

If you are using the Game of the Year (GOTY) version of Oblivion you should not need any patches, skip the patching part.

Now, If you DO NOT use Shivering Isles, patch the game using ONLY the latest Oblivion patch. All of the stuff from the earlier patches is included.

Be sure you use the proper language patch. If you use the wrong one it may work, but with a strange mixture of languages. (Germanglish?) Or it may crash.

NOTE: there are two English Patches UK & US and they are different. (Some people actually think we speak the same language) Use the one that matches your original disk.

If you use Shivering Isles, Install it now. DO NOT install the Oblivion patch. Install Shivering Isles, then ONLY the latest Shivering Isles patch only IF you do not have the GOTY version. All of the updates for Oblivion are included. There is only one Shivering Isles patch for both US & UK English (Maybe sometimes we do speak the same language.) Patches are available here: Link

Finalizing the new Install

Now, again start the game, make sure it looks right, move around a little to test it, and make a save. Test to be sure everything is working right (No purple objects or yellow blocks)

Back it up!

Before adding any mods, back up both your \data folder and the save game folder. Copy them, don't move or rename them, to a different folder - such as \Bethesda\Clean Oblivion\data and \Bethesda\clean Oblivion\saves. Note that this is a different folder than the one used for your old data and saves.

Note, Your Oblivion.ini file is in the same folder, but separate from, the save game folder.

Don't forget to reinstall OBMM, OBSE and the Construction Set if you use any of them.

Now, if you want to try to run with your old mods, first rename the original folders. The \data folder to \newdata and the \oldata back to \data. this restores all of your mods. You should now have 2 data folders \data, and \newdata in your \oblivion folder

To restore your original saves and ini file, rename the new My Games\Oblivion to something like \New Oblivion. and the \Old oblivion to \oblivion - this restores all of your saved games and your original Oblivion.ini file.

DO NOT erase the files you renamed. These are your backup files in case the original mods do not work or give you the same problem.

If you have the same problem, it is most likely caused by a mod. However, if you followed the instructions, you now have a clean install to fall back on. You can You can COPY (NOT move or rename) the backup files back to what they were and be back to your clean install without having to reinstall again.

Sounds like lots of work, but you will have a clean install and a back up clean install when you are finished.

Now go kill some goblins.

Other articles by Bben46

Oblivion mod advice

Oblivion patch advice

Oblivion crash help

Load order recommendations

Dual Oblivion

Backing up Oblivion

Fixing a slow game

Mod limits

Revert to vanilla data

Vista considerations