Installation Tips

4/5/2008 – When new programs are released, certain recurring questions are traditionally asked regarding their installation. Are the default folders necessary? How do I uninstall old versions? How do I get my new engines into ChessBase? Our ChessBase Workshop columnist tackles these questions (and others) in his latest column. Workshop...

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In this week's edition of ChessBase Workshop, we'll discuss various installation (and uninstallation) concerns which are occasionally voiced by users.

Installation of ChessBase and the Fritz family of playing programs is generally a pretty straightforward process if you have Autorun enabled on your computer: you just insert the program disk and follow the prompts. During the installation process of each of these programs, you'll be prompted twice for the locations of various folders (for storing databases and the locations of the programs themselves). In times past, I always recommended that users leave these recommended folder paths unchanged, but I'll slightly modify this advice now.

Over the last few years I've come to discover that many computer manufacturers pre-partition hard drives (i.e. divide the hard disk into two or more smaller drives, each with its own drive letter), and there's been a tendency on the part of a few of them to create "C:" drives which are just a hair bigger than the space required for the files for Windows itself (or at least not much bigger than is required for Windows and two or three additional programs). Consequently, my modified advice for choosing a folder location consists of two tips:

  1. If you're going to change the folder paths recommended by the ChessBase/Fritz/etc. installation processes, change just the drive letter if you have a partitioned hard drive and you find space becoming scarce on your C: drive;
  2. In any event, keep your folder paths consistent from program to program. In other words, if you install ChessBase on your D: drive, also install your playing programs on the D: drive as well.

There's a very practical reason for this second tip: following it will ensure that your various playing engines will be available for use in ChessBase as well as in the GUI (graphic user interface) of your playing program.

This also calls to mind another occasionally-asked question. Despite the fact that this has been covered extensively in the Fritz documentation, on the ChessBase website, the sites of various vendors, and a wide variety of message boards, a few folks still haven't heard the word yet. The ChessBase engine format was changed starting with Fritz10; this happened some time after ChessBase 9 was already released. So if you want the engines for Fritz10 and any subsequently-released playing programs you've purchased to be available for use in ChessBase 9, you'll need to perform an online upgrade of your ChessBase 9 program.

To perform an online upgrade of ChessBase 9, do the following:

  1. Make sure you're connected to the Internet (obligatory obvious first step);
  2. Launch ChessBase 9;
  3. Log on to the Playchess server (if you've not yet created a Playchess account, instructions are in the booklet accompanying your ChessBase/Fritz software);
  4. Go to the Playchess Help menu and select "Query upgrade";
  5. Follow the prompts.

After you complete these steps, your ChessBase 9 software will recognize the Fritz10/11 engines and other engines using the new engine format.

Additional user questions arise from the subject of uninstallation. The questions are typically variations on two themes:

  • "If I uninstall ChessBase, will anything happen to my databases?"
  • "I just installed the new version of Fritz -- can I just uninstall the previous version?"

Aside from the fact that both questions deal with uninstallation, they share another common theme: what files are removed when you uninstall a piece of software?

Generally speaking (unless a programmer does something extremely sloppy, such as cause an uninstallation program to simply delete a folder and everything in it), uninstallation programs delete only the files that were installed by the installation process itself. This is how the ChessBase/Fritz software uninstallation routines work. So, for example, if you uninstall ChessBase, the personal databases you've added or created won't be affected by uninstalling the program software (since these were created after the software was installed).

However, if you uninstall a playing program the corresponding engine(s) will be uninstalled. So how do you uninstall a prior version of, say, Fritz while ensuring that the program's chess engine won't be deleted? That one's easy enough to circumvent and, not coincidentally, is another reason I recommend not changing the default folder location (aside from drive letter) during the installation process.

All you need to do is temporarily change the name of the folder in which the engines are located until after the uninstallation is complete, at which time you return the folders back to their original names.

All you need now is the locations of the engine folders, right? Engines from Fritz9 back (i.e. prior to Fritz10) were installed into the following default folder:

[Drive letter]:\Program files\ChessBase\Engines

Chess engines from Fritz10 onward are installed into the following default folder:

[Drive letter]:\Common files\ChessBase\Engines

All you need do in both cases is open My Computer or Windows Explorer, follow the file path, and change the \Engines folder's name to something like \X (simple, easy to remember, even easier to type, and won't interfere with existing folder names). Then uninstall the older version of your playing program; afterwards you can change \X back to \Engines and you're done.

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments on ChessBase Workshop. No tech support questions, please.

© 2008, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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