#0 - May 23, 2008, 1:15 p.m.
The Virtual Store is a hidden folder in the Users folder.
Many applications/programs written before Windows Vista (including World of Warcraft) got used to being allowed to write files or change files wherever they wanted, but Vista doesn't allow this. Because applications (like games!) are not normally allowed to write or make changes to files into the Program Files directory, Windows Vista re-directs those files to a place called the Virtual Store.
If your copy of World of Warcraft is installed in the Program Files folder, you almost certainly have your Interface\AddOns and WTF folder (where WoW saves its settings) in the Virtual Store.
Patch 3.0.2 and Wrath of the Lich King Expansion:
Now, along comes Wow Patch 3.0.2, and knowing that people were having problems with WoW being installed in the Program Files folder, Blizzard decided to help Windows Vista users by moving the game to a new place. When you install Patch 3.0.2 or the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and you're running WIndows Vista with World of Warcraft installed to your Program Files folder the installer/patcher will ask to move your WoW install.
The new path is going to be "computer\[user name]\users\public\games\World of Warcraft." User name is of course the Windows Vista user account of the user logged in at the time of the install.
If you've installed your copy of WoW somewhere else (like me, D:\Games\World of Warcraft) you will be unaffected by this change.
More information on the Virtual Store:
The Virtual Store is a hidden folder in the Users folder. Your typical path for a World of Warcraft installation would look like this:
C:\Users\<name>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\World of Warcraft\.
For the technical explanation, read all about the UAC and the Virtual Store at these links:
Link 1 - the don't confuse me with technology version:
Link 2 - The Real Scoop:
Link 3 - Shirik's WoW Interface Guide on this subject with pictures!
● To get to the Virtual Store:
Go to the "Program Files" folder, then your World of Warcraft folder and click "Compatibility Files" on the menu bar. This will take you to where the AddOns and WTF folders are. (If you're on Vista 64 bit versions, you'll have a "Program Files (x86)" folder - WoW will most likely be in there, if so, navigate to the AddOns or WTF folder before looking for the "Compatibility Files" button.
● How to Show Hidden Files/Folders: (do this only to help see hidden folders, not to fix anything).
1. Click the Start Button, and choose "Control Panel" from the menu.
2. Choose "Appearance and Personalization."
3. Under "Folder Options" choose "Show hidden files and folders."
4. Click the "View" tab.
5. Find the item labeled, "Hidden files and folders" and click the circle next to "Show hidden files and folders."
6. Click the "Apply" button.
To make troubleshooting easier for yourself you can do a couple of things:
1. (Easy, Secure, Best) - Move your World of Warcraft installation to a new location, outside of the Program Files folder. For example, on my PC I have WoW installed in D:\Games\World of Warcraft. You can move your entire WoW folder to anywhere else on your computer that you like. This prevents the whole UAC/Virtual Store issue entirely.
If you do this, you will need to modify the shortcut (icon) you use to run WoW. Richt-Click on the icon and chose "Properties" from the menu. Change the "Target" property to match your new path. This will not break your WoW install in any way. WoW is pretty self-contained, and any registry entries it needs to update it will do at run time. As an added benefit of this, patching can often be easier since the patch files won't get moved to your virtual store.
2. (Easy, but not secure) - You can, if you're an Administrator on the computer, allow WoW to run as an Admin, giving it special rights to write to the Program Files folder. Right-Click the icon you use to run WoW and choose "Run as Administrator" from the menu. This is not recommended because it essentially disables the protection of UAC.