Installing WoW on a clunky old laptop: a comedy.

So I’m visiting my family for a few days. This means I’m in a different country, with no access to my usual computer.

What I do have is a clunky old laptop. This laptop has been with me for a long while, and used to run the game better than my normal computer – back in vanilla / TBC times. Yes, it’s that old.

The last patch I installed on it was the Trial of the Crusader patch of yore. But I figured, hey, maybe it’ll run Cataclysm! I won’t be able to use any addons, and I’ll have to play on minimum settings, but I can like, level a baby alt or something.

The first time I tried updating to the current version of WoW was back in October, when I also went to visit my family for a short while. “I’ll just start the downloader overnight, and when I wake up it’ll be downloaded” I thought. So I started the downloader, and woke up to a message stating, in no uncertain terms, “lolnospace”. (Except it used longer words, but that was the gist of it.)


/find patch mirror

/download patch to a different drive

/start the updater

Quoth the updater, “lolnospace”.

At this point I had just a few days left before going back home, so I chalked it up to a learning experience and stopped there.

But this time – this time I was prepared. This time I had the Cataclysm DVD.

/set up laptop

/select everything that isn’t the WoW install on the D: drive and move it to the C: drive to free up space

Quoth the C: drive, “lolnospace”.


/delete a bunch of unused stuff on the C: drive and repeat the moving process

/start installer, watch it slooooooooowly go from 1% to 3%

/go to sleep

/wake up and examine the laptop

Quoth the installer, “I got to 33% then lolnospace”.

But… but… but you started, you said you had enough space…

“I lied. lolnospace.”


/uninstall WoW entirely, damnit

/start installer again

/go to sleep

/wake up to installer on 67%

/go out shopping

/come back to installer on 89%

/have lunch

/go out shopping

/come back to installer on 99%

/watch it crawl to 100% and start downloading the patch

A minimum of 2GB to reach playable state and it’s going at 25KB/sec. This will take a while.

/have dinner

/chat to Alieth on GTalk, bemoan the slow download, get laughed at

At this point my brother pokes his head into my room. “Are you downloading anything?”

“Uhh no, why?”

“I have 400 latency on the game I’m trying to play.”

“Well I’m definitely not downloading anything, but the connection’s been wonky all day.”

/feel guilty

/pause the downloader until brother has gone to sleep

/resume the downloader

/go to sleep

/wake up to find the game is now “playable” but there’s still 6.6GB worth of content to download

/pause the downloader to avoid any issues (father needs usable internet connection to work)

/go out shopping

/come back, start the downloader over lunchtime

/log in after dinner, with still several GB left to download

Turns out “playable” really does mean playable. Well, if you can deal with occasional visual bugginess and nastiness (such as player models missing some bits). I’m not even sure if it was because of the unfinished download or because this laptop is just that old and clunky. I’ll see later this evening when I log in again – I’ve since managed to download the entire thing.

It did take me about half an hour to get out of Orgrimmar even on minimum settings, so if I ever want to do this again, I’ll need to remember to move any characters I want to play out of crowded areas beforehand (and doing any kind of group content or high-level, populated areas would be a nightmare), but still. It works!

I don’t dare log any of my high-level characters – they’re all in crowded zones, and considering the amount of abilities they have, being completely addon-less would make me want to cry. But I did have fun questing in the Barrens for a few levels before going to sleep.


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