Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

When downloading software from the internet you should choose "Save" to keep a copy of your download. If you haven't, I'll look at how to save anyway.

I play games from bigfish and gamehouse. I'm sorta worried that if this old PC tears up I wont have my games that I've downloaded. How can I backup those files? I didn't save - I chose to run instead. I run XP Pro.

Well, you've kind of identified the real problem in your question: choosing to run what you've downloaded instead of saving it.

I'll throw out a few idea on what you might do, both now, and in the future, to make sure you'll have copies of what you've downloaded.

Back Up Everything

If you're worried about your machine dying, you should make sure to have a complete backup of everything. Heck, even if you're not worried about it you should be - and that's even if your machine is brand new. Machines die. Hard disks go belly up. Data gets lost.

"Most internet downloads can be downloaded multiple times without any adverse repercussions."

I know that's not really what you're asking about, but it's important. And of the options I'll go through below, it's the only one that could also restore anything that the game actually saves on your machine as you play it - like your high scores, preferences and the like.

So do, please, consider investing in a backup strategy for your entire computer, not just a few games.

Unlikely But ... It Could Happen

When you choose to "Run" instead of "Save" a file downloaded from the internet, your browser still saves it, only it's saved to the browser's cache or the system temporary files folder and then immediately run from there. This is done because even when you "Run" it has to be run from somewhere on your machine - implying it had to be downloaded first. After it's been run the file can be removed from the temporary or cache location.

The straw I'm about to grasp at is this: depending on how long it's been since you downloaded and ran the software it might - and I have to stress the might - still be there.

Start by determining the location of Windows temporary files on your machine, and then examine that folder for the file you downloaded and ran. I'd expect it to be a ".exe" or ".msi", if it's a Windows program. Hopefully you'll be able to tell from the name.

Similarly, much like searching for web based email on your machine you can determine the location of your browser's cache, and look there for the same thing: your appropriately named game download.

It's a long shot, but it's the closest thing to directly addressing the exact question I think you're asking.

Do It Again

This might be simpler, and in all honesty is probably where I'd start.

Just download the game again, but this time choose "Save", and save it to an appropriate location so you can save it and have it again should you need it later.

Most internet downloads can be downloaded multiple times without any adverse repercussions. Free games and documents almost certainly fall into this category, but many for-pay programs also happen to as well. Most for-pay programs now require that you enter an activation code of some sort, but that's after you've downloaded the program. So ... download it again.

If you can't, for some reason, I'd use the vendors support option. Trust me, you're not the first to have run into this, and even for paid downloads many vendors will provide a way for paying customers to download what they've purchased again, should they need to.

Lesson Learned?

Two big lessons learned here, I hope, and some direction on how you should handle this from now on:

  • Save, don't Run. Save your downloads to a folder of your choosing, and then run them from there. That way you can make backup copies, install them again without re-downloading and whatever else you might want to do with them.

  • Backup your machine. Regularly. Even if you're not worried about the machine actually breaking, catastrophes happen. Backups are the closest thing to a cure-all that you'll find.

Article C4581 - November 15, 2010 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

November 16, 2010 10:57 AM

Tho' one problem I can see with it is that if the installer is actually one of those wrappers that download the actual installer and the site doesn't exist anymore ... eh.

Dont some of those wrappers just dump it into the temp folder though? I wouldnt know the specifics.

I actually thought this was about savegames (I dont know if thats the proper term). I used to make a copy of it for the backups but then I figured out that I can set up directory junctions... that aint for beginners though and some programs dont play nice with it.

Alex Dow
November 16, 2010 11:09 AM

I have a main Folder on my PC, with Sub-Folders relating to each Program, Game etc that I download, basically as Leo has suggested.

I also include notes etc, if I observe anything that it would be adviseable to be aware of, whether during any subsequent Download, Installation or Running.

There are also Folders for historic items such as CHKLINKS.

Thus the various Folder Names within the Download Folder act as reminders of what I (may) have installed.

This is reinforced by having an External Hard Disk Drive, to which everything is backed up about once per month.

Additionally, the complete Downloads Folder and contents is copied over to my other two PCs, using SD Disks.

It is a "belts and braces" arrangement - BUT it certainly ensures that I have access to thise Downloads without any worry.

November 16, 2010 11:48 AM

When it comes to games sites, it is almost always possible to download the game again if necessary, Big Fish in particular have an excellent and simple system where you just go to your account and it lists all games purchased by you and provides a download button by each one. As another poster said, where a games manager is used it is not really possible to save the installation file as the wrapper actually connects to the internet to get the game but this is unnecessary for the majority of games sites. Some need a product code to be entered after downloading and installing again - these MUST be backed up somehow, I have them on a spreadsheet and back up to the cloud and to a flash drive as well for double protection ;o)

November 16, 2010 11:53 AM

I have some BigFish games and my experience is that you don't get the option to "Save or Run". The BigFish application handles the whole process. It downloads the file to the Temp folder and then deletes it after a few seconds (or moves it somewhere more obscure), but during the time it's preparing to install the game, I found that I could copy the file and paste it somewhere else. If memory serves correctly, you can even use that file to double-click install on another computer, but you won't get to play anymore than a demo, because it still needs the Big Fish application for authentication and access to the Full, paid-for version.

Margaret Louk
November 16, 2010 11:59 AM

Save your keys! I made a list and saved it in my computer and then printed it out. Sometimes you need to unistall and download a game over when it has a problem. I saved my keys and when I got my computer I was able to freshly download them. One problem I did have was 32 bit vs 64 bit. Plus the one game company went out of business. Still have that one on the old machine.

Eddy Damas
November 16, 2010 12:12 PM

Remember also to save the confirmation email and any following emails concerning your purchase...otherwise you might lose the registration code needed for the game.

Gail R.
November 16, 2010 12:50 PM

Both BigFish and Gamehouse use a 'game manager' to install games; you don't need to pick "save" when downloading starts because the game manager does the saving.

Glenn P.
November 16, 2010 3:37 PM

Oh, absolutely: Save not Run!

Then, be sure to save any confirmation, registration, validation, activation, or <insert-whatever-nomenclature-is-used-by-your-software-seller> E-Mail or other information is required to get the application to actually work  on your computer.

Personally, I save both the "Installer" program, and  the activation codes to the same directory where the program is installed; that way I always know where to look for them when I need re-install it, and  they always get included in any backup of the program itself (which of course would include all of the files in its installation directory).

In practice, however, I almost never  bother with backups of individual programs -- I simply do whole-disk image backups, replacing the previous one with the most recent. Very lengthy & time-consuming, but absolutely nothing  could be simpler. Since I have a program that can "extract" from those image archives, they essentially do double-duty as file backups as well!     :)

For the record (and recommendation), the backup software I use is "BootItNG" (the "NG" stands for "Next Generation"). The site is <>.
November 18, 2010 4:45 AM

first you save your activation code or registration code or product key what ever it is along with you have to protect that email confirmation.

November 21, 2010 2:52 AM

Just clone your hard drive to another HD.

March 28, 2013 6:38 PM

With Steam, you can actually copy the entire SteamApps folder. This, however, is more useful for avoiding waste of bandwidth by downloading the games multiple times, as the Steam client handles the downloads anyways.

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