Why do you/some people install mods manually rather than use a mod manager?
By - WalkChaulk
It's usually a lack of knowledge about mod managers or an unhealthy desire to directly micromanage every file in one's loadout.
Maybe if you *really* don't care about mods, and only want to drop 1 or 2 .esp(s) into your data folder and never mess with it again; there's an argument to be made that that's more straightforward than setting up MO2.
Ive seen one person claim that it lets them better understand what mods they have. iirc they said something like “rather than dropping it in a mod manager and forgetting about it I have to put it in myself so I know exactly what mods I have”. Which is stupid on many levels, considering Mo2 has a Data folder where you can see exactly what mod is adding what
It's not for the fainthearted, that's for sure. I would only recommend doing so if you have a good understanding of how the various files and folder structures of Skyrim work. I did not have such knowledge when I first played Skyrim (in February of 2016), so I used the Nexus Mod Manager (NMM).
Now, like what woobzterzy says, NMM is a terrible fiend for memory. It will force you to keep all mod-related files, and I *do* mean force. I messed up my entire installation folder royally this past January when I tried to trick NMM into letting me delete the surplus files. (I keep my own backups on a designated USB, I don't need NMM keeping extra copies on my already burdened computer.)
Long story short, NMM pitched a fit, locked me out of editing Skyrim's folders and corrupted almost everything within the Data section. I managed to fix it many hours later, but I refuse to touch NMM again.
I could switch to a new mod manger (MO2 would be my choice if it ever comes to it), but I am very familiar with Skyrim's inner workings now. Before Skyrim, my consuming passion was The Sims series (1-3). Back then, manually installing mods was the only option, so I am actually quite comfortable with the process. Returning to my roots, so to speak.
I have always made it a rule to read the full description of every mod I am interested in, and in addition, I make certain to go back at least five pages in their respective comment sections to see if there's anything I need to know about, plus I read the bug reports section if there is one available.
I have hundreds of mods installed. I would say about 75% of them have been the work of a manual installation. I run LE on a very old computer, and it's extremely rare that I experience a crash. In short, READ EVERYTHING. Manual installations can be done safely and cleanly--but only if you know what you are doing.
I agree with the importance of reading the documentation and bug reports!! That can prevent issues that no mod manager could ever prevent.
How do you installed/manage the other 25%?
What's your process to uninstall a mod?
Imo Wyre Bash has an "automated manual install" feel to it. It doesn't require knowledge of inner workings but you'll get more out of it if you do have that knowledge. WB is closest to the metal. MO2 is one abstraction level above that and Vortex is quite abstracted requiring the least understanding of inner workings so is very newbie friendly and therefore the most widely used.
The other 25% is what remains of when NMM was calling the shots. Since I still have the original rar archives backed up, I refer back to those when I have to check for the origin of a specific file, or wish to analyze an installation path.
For the manually installed mods, I keep lists of what files came from which mods and where they ended up going on what date with the time and reasoning attached--manually installing SMIM was quite the adventure!
It's rare that I ever decide to uninstall anything. But if my lists should somehow fail me, I just re-extract the original rar files, use them as a map, and then go on a reverse treasure hunt, removing the various files one by one. :)
So to kinda summarize.... You have a stable game now, have put a lot of work into your installed mods, rarely uninstall mods... that's it's probably not worth your time to "convert" it to use a mod manager. If you were to start over again you'd probably use a mod manager.
I used to do this - either those people are currently in the middle of a playthrough and cannot be bothered to transfer to a mod manager or using one seems too technical for them (I only got the hang of it thanks to some members of this community and GamerPoet's videos). I wouldn't call them stupid or any insult considering each is to his own and I wouldn't want others belittling them because...come on...guys, no one started as experts or knowledgeable in modding. In one way or another, we asked help/is still asking help from our fellow modders. Cut them some slack unless they start being belligerent or spouting insults at you.
With that out of the way, after spending some time with MO2 - I am no longer modding manually. There seems no advantage to the latter considering a mod manager does almost everything for you - checking and notifying of conflicts, sorting, troubleshooting, etc. Its just click and drop, no more unzipping or tinkering. However, I understand that some people are simply "old school", cannot be bothered to install a lot of tools or just dumbfounded by the technicalities of mod managers (I do hope the community can compile guides here along the lines of "mod manager basics'' and the like, explained in as simple terms as possible, so we can show those in the fence the beauty of mod managers). From a certain perspective and to some- it is kind of a hassle to learn and download tools just to be able to play a modded game without issues. Not everyone has time to even play the game for long, much more tinker with it. If we're going to introduce them to mod managers - the focus should be on showing how easier it is for them and will be for their game in the long run as compared to manual modding. Frankly, I wouldn't have made the move if two kind admins here did not help me with the installation, linking of tools and other basics before referring me to GamerPoets' videos for the rest.
My point is everyone has their preferred method of modding and we have no right to judge them. The least we can do is show them how easier it is to do so with the tools. There is no need for belittling or insults as it won't do anyone any good.
Imo they just are used to doing something that's long outdated. Like people who use NMM. There's no advantage to installing manually, only disadvantages.
Back then when I’m using Nexus, I really hate that the mod size is multiplied up to 5 times (rar, extracted, then copied to data. usually extracted files is 2x the compressed. ). Although it says use Virtual thing, the hard disk still think it use space.
So I open each mod to see which one I can safely install manually (even reading the fomod script thing). I need to remember which file is replaced, re read the whole mod rar, and install them following the priority. A year ago I used Vortex, and i think it’s the exact same like Nexus, or I just have no idea how to use it properly. Still the same 3x data.
But just a week ago, After not touching Skyrim for a year, I decided to reinstall and this time using Mod Organizer. And it’s a really amazing program, didnt copy the mod 3 times, only keeping the rar then extracted. The Skyrim folder is keep clean. i was mind blown by it o.o Also it can easily manage mod conflict by dragging the list, like playing puzzle. Then finally I manually check and delete the rar
>A year ago I used Vortex, and i think it’s the exact same like Nexus, or I just have no idea how to use it properly. Still the same 3x data.
Just because Windows File Explorer is too stupid to know the difference between hard-linked files doesn't mean you're actually using so much disk space.
Instead, you should check the "Free disk space".
Example, let's say you start with 456 GB free disk space and you download 30 GB worth of mod-archives. This means you'll now have 426 GB free disk space.
Afterwards, you install all the mods and let's say the installed mods uses 100 GB (not counting mod archives).
If you used NMM to install mods (you're much better off using another mod manager), Windows File Explorer will claim you've used 230 GB total, but if you check free disk space you'll realize you've now got 326 GB free disk space.
If you used Vortex to install the mods, you'll have 326 GB free disk space.
If you used MO2 to install the mods, you'll have 326 GB free disk space.
If you used Wrye Bash to install the mods, you'll have 326 GB free disk space.
If you manually installed the mods, you'll have 326 GB free disk space.
If you're using NMM you can't delete mod archives after installation, meaning you're stuck at 326 GB free disk space until you start uninstalling mods. With Vortex, MO2 and manual installation on the other hand you can delete the mod-archives after mod installation, meaning if you want after installation you can have 356 GB free disk space.
Not sure how Wrye Bash handles deleting of mod archives.
> A year ago I used Vortex, and i think it’s the exact same like Nexus, or I just have no idea how to use it properly. Still the same 3x data.
Not really. Vortex uses hardlinks to "trick" the OS and the game to think that the files are in game folder - actually they're not - it's something like embedding a YouTube video on your personal website - but Windows file explorer is too dumb to understand that, so it thinks the files are doubled. The pro for this approach is that since hardlinks are a native Windows tech, Vortex doesn't need to run in background to establish the VFS and keep it running.
I personally don't download with Vortex directly, I use a secondary HDD for my mod (plus other media like music and documents) library, then add them to Vortex manually - this way the archives don't clutter my SSD, and the mod library is portable and protected from possible SSD failures/OS reinstalls.
There’s absolutely no reason to not install with a mod manager unless the mod can’t be installed that way. Everything else and it is far easier to just install with something like Vortex, since it’ll tell you what conflicts.
Just a guess, but a few "old-timers" are possibly so accustomed to manually installing all mods in Morrowind and other old games like DOOM, Baldurs Gate etc. and have just continued manually installing all mods in Skyrim.
For any "newcomers" to manually install Skyrim mods on the other hand I would hope it's mostly lack of knowledge about available mod managers.
In practice with Skyrim where's too many advantages to use either MO2 or Vortex to ever manually install mods. Now sure where are a few badly-packaged mods, example male body replacer where mod archive includes multiple choices from hair-less to fur-ball but don't use FOMOD or other type of installer, but in these cases you can either manually create a new mod-archive or you can manually create a mod-directory under /mods/-directory if MO2 or "Mod Staging Folder" if Vortex, and put the necessary files into.
For older games like Oblivion many more mods are designed for manual installation and a few mods forces you to use OBMM. Still, even if mod uses OBMM, you can always create either mod-archive or a mod-directory in MO2 or Vortex and move the OBMM-installed files to mod-archive or mod-directory.
From the posts I can vaguely remember by those who do this, Dunning-Kruger effect.
Because they don't know any better, or are just terminally stupid. Who cares
Reminder: some mods are not packaged for mod managers. Some of them would be texture mods and enb mods.
>Some of them would be texture mods and enb mods.
ENB-s I understand - they don't go to /data/ folder like normal mods - but if a texture mod is just a bunch of loose files in an archive with no folder structure (even if it's just a single texture), that mod author is just a lazy muck. If the archive has proper folder structure in it, no mod manager will have trouble installing it properly, even if the archive doesn't have a fomod setup.