[HOW-TO] Change the installation path of installed packages inc community folder

There are many advantages in having the downloaded content, i.e. packages (and community folder) in a separate location to the default location assigned at the time of installation.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is in relation to having to perform a re-install of the sim. If the content is in the ‘default’ location and MSFS is ever uninstalled then all the downloaded content and community folder will get wiped. Similarly, if using the Windows Store advance app setting “Reset” or the Steam version of “verify files” this content, stored in the default location will get wiped.

It is always a good idea to maintain a separate back up of both the official downloaded packages (and possibly community folder) in a location independent of that used by MSFS. In my case I have both backed up on a second hard drive. (The back up is a simple copy and paste of the two relevant folders into a new directory. However, this needs to be done after every sim update to ensure it is up to date)

Some folks who are using AIG AI traffic addon are also running into issues with filepath name lengths. Moving these folders from default location to another location, e.g. C:\MSFS, eliminates this problem.

Those who are regularly involved in the testing flights for MSFS will benefit from moving their content to a custom installation as the testing program requires a re-installation of MSFS at the conclusion of the test.

Zendesk does provide a method for how to change this installation path:
https://flightsimulator.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360015910560-Can-I-choose-or-change-the-installation-path-

Another similar method, without the need to edit anything, is to move the contents of:

MS Store:
C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.FlightSimulator_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalCache\Packages

Steam:
C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft Flight Simulator\Packages

to a new directory of choice, e.g. C:\MSFS.

Note: These are the two folders within the packages directory that will be moved:
image

Once moved, instead of editing the UserCFG.opt file just run MSFS.

The content manager will start, prompting a download of all content. Click on “Browse” instead and using explorer select the new folder where the packages have been moved to, e.g. C:\MSFS.
Content manager will detect the location of these packages and continue to the main menu without downloading anything.

If MSFS ever needs to be reinstalled, pointing the content manager to the location of this custom folder should prevent the download of all the packages.

Please treat this process with care and remember each step taken. If the process doesn’t work for you ensure that you are able to restore everything to the state it was in prior to moving anything. Don’t delete any content without a suitable back up. Following the instructions carefully should not lead to any broken installations. All steps taken here are at your own risk.

Note: I cannot confirm that this method will also protect those who are using gamepass. I have heard of cases where this custom folder is also wiped during an un-install. If using gamepass it is a good idea to have a completely separate back up independent of any folders used by or linked to by MSFS- a separate hard drive is recommended.

A final note. If you are using any 3rd party applications that need to know the location of your community folder, e.g. applications that install content into your community folder, then you will also need to update those applications with the new path to your moved community folder.

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Tamalien, question for clarity.

I’ve bought some payware direct from Aerosoft and PMDG, and am using the standard install location for my Steam install. Those planes were installed directly into the Packages folder by their respective installers (not into Community or Official).

Would I be correct in assuming those folders would remain in Packages, and that they would remain operational after moving the Official and Community folders to their new location? Or would those planes would have to be reinstalled into the new location as well?

edit; after diving a bit deeper, it seems the planes are actually installed in Community, but they create a folder directly in Packages as well, containing what seem like logs, ini files, dll’s, lib files, states etc. Would I have to move these folders, will they be recreated?

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Only sensible answer I can give is what I wrote previously:

I suspect that the safest method would be to use the installers for Aerosoft/ PMDG or any other 3rd party to uninstall the content prior to the move and then re-install after the move and let the installer work out the details, if that makes sense.

yep, makes sense. Thanks for the reply.

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Would moving the the Community and Official package files from my C drive to my D drive work, or do they both need to be on the same drive?

As long as both the Official package files and Community folder are coexisting within the same required directory structure on the D drive then it would work fine.

E.g. moving them both to within D:\MSFS instead of C:\MSFS would be fine.

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Fantastic, thank you!

I would only add one comment to clarify an issue some have had. It seems there is some confusion with the word “move”. Be sure to “copy and paste” those files and not “cut and paste”. You need to leave them in your active file in order for the program to continue to work. This seems to have caused some readers some problems.

I’m struggling with this. After following the instructions, starting MSFS and choosing the new location, it now says there isn’t enough space for the files - I haven’t got enough space on the disk to download them all again (but obviously not expecting to). Fortunately after I moved the files back and chose the original location again, all was OK (but the files are back where they started).

Is this related to the problem I’m having? Surely this means you end up having 2 copies of everything?

The Installed Packages (Community and Official ) folders do not need to be on the C: drive if you move them to the D: or other drive (D:\MSFS).

Be sure that UserCfg.opt identifies where these folders are.

These folders are taking up disk space on the C: drive and are not needed.
They can be deleted to free up disk space.

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So, do you need to copy the entire Packages directory to new location (eg. D:\MSFS) or just the Community and Official folder within the Packages dir. ??

That is determined by what you have in UserCfg.opt (and in the Browse field in the updater).
I have this in UserCfg.opt: InstalledPackagesPath "C:\MSFS\Packages"
which means that the official stuff is in “C:\MSFS\Packages\Official”

And regardless of what has been stated above, you don’t need to copy anything; just move it. The reason behind the whole thing is to move the packages out of the installer’s reach so it cannot be deleted by switching between beta and non-beta.

I have the Steam version, and it’s a known annoyance that Steam’s “refresh” function causes a complete re-download, presumably because Steam deletes the Packages directory. The fear is that the same thing will happen when we disable the beta version later.

Sorry, my bad. I made an error with the dir paths.
Thanks for your quick reply :+1:

I cannot copy the folder because of the notorious “your organization does not allow you to place this file here” warning. Could not solve that issue for more than a year. I am going ahead without a backup now.

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You should be able to “Zip” the contents and then unzip at the new location.
Then just change the usercfg.opt file.

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I already did the update. Yet I will try. Thanks for the info!

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What if you keep your plane folders on a different Drive, say drive E & Folder of your making. eg. E://games/MSFS2020/addonns/Planes Is this possible? Acceptable? Will it work, what do you think? Please let me know by contacting me, please. I look forward to your answer. Regards, NavMAN68B Desktop PC - MSI/AMD/ Config…

Yep via symbolic links, Link Shell Extension or addons linker.

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I think I need some assistance. I tried to follow the instructions, but when I copy then paste the contents within the “packages” folder to a custom path on a different drive, I keep getting a “Your organization doesn’t allow you to place this file here”.

To ease any doubt, I assure you I am the administrator of my computer, my anti-virus is OFF. I checked the security of the folders and I do have FULL control. To avoid any doubt, I created another account with admin permissions and verified it has access to the folder/contents. However, I get the same problem. I even tried pasting other folders/files to the custom path without issues.

It seems to me the packages contents are secured/encrypted. Has anyone else had a similar experience and may provide pointers here?

What is more weird, is that when I check the install path in the XBOX game app, it says 123GB are installed on my E drive (exactly where I specified when I did the initial install some time back). So i’m also confused why the “packages” are installed on the default path (C:) when the app manager says otherwise…

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The only way to do that is to “zip” the contents of the packages folder (I would do it a bit at a time and then unzipp in the new location).
Make blank folders with the same names as they currently are, in the new location.
Then you need to change the Usercfg.opt file to indicate the new location.