Skyrim Unplugged by stoppingby4now
Skyrim » Utilities
Added: 12/03/2012 - 01:32PM
Updated: 24/11/2012 - 05:33AM

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1.6 Latest version

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Uploaded by stoppingby4now


Last updated at 5:33, 24 Nov 2012 Uploaded at 13:32, 12 Mar 2012

It has recently been confirmed from a few (including myself) that Automatic Updates for Skyrim is no longer tied to the registry, but for some odd reason the Creation Kit still is. This is pretty huge, and means that no current version of Skyrim Unplugged will protect you from unwanted updates for at least Skyrim (though file permissions may prevent their being overwritten, I don't know yet if this will cause any problems). I have narrowed down that it is now writing the state to a file, but this complicates things even more as the file contains information for all installed games. Locking it down would prevent Steam from being able to write any needed changes.

But, there may be a glimmer of hope that Steam is fixing the Automatic Update issue (just won't know till the next patch comes, or a new Steam client update). After manually setting Automatic Updates to disable in Skyrim properties (the Update tab), verifying the game cache did not download any new files. The only bad thing is that the game was stuck in a state of Downloading Paused, which prevents you form playing the game until the download is finished.
Until we can determine how things will play out (for good or bad), you'll need to make sure you have a backup of your current version to restore just in case, or play in offline mode when a beta is announced.

I'm releasing version 1.6 so that you can apply the new file permissions if you choose. But that comes with the caveat that I have no idea on how this will affect the state of the game when a new patch is released (i.e. if it will be playable).

A new version is currently being tested which will give greater control over applying updates. You will soon be able to toggle Automatic Updates for Skyrim and the Creation Kit individually, as well as applying permissions. File permissions are still being looked at for tweaking.

Information regarding TESV.exe disappearing
In order to prevent files from being removed in preparation for an update, Skyrim Unplugged sets security permissions on key Skyrim files. However, some folks are configuring SkyrimLauncher.exe to run as Administrator, and this is causing files destined for a patch upgrade to disappear when a new patch is released. In order to prevent this, you must remove Run as Administrator for SkyrimLauncher.exe. If for whatever reason you must have it enabled, then you will need to make a backup of your Skyrim folder to use to recover as the security permissions do not prevent processes running as Administrator from removing them. I will do some investigating to see if I can prevent file deletion in this scenario.

Skyrim Unplugged
Put the power back into your hands when it comes to Automatic Updates for Skyrim. This program will allow you to use all the online features of Steam and will enforce your preferred update settings rather than allowing Steam to reset them to defaults arbitrarily. Prevent a new Skyrim patch from being applied on your terms, and allow it when you are ready.

  • Does not require Administrative privileges
  • Does not need to remain running in the background
  • Does not modify Steam in any way
  • Set it and forget it

This program requires .NET which can be downloaded from the Microsoft .NET website.

Version 1.4
Removed requirement for TESV.exe to exist when enabling Automatic Updates. This is to make it easier for cases where re-installing Steam/Skyrim and forgetting to enable updates. TESV.exe must still exist to disable Automatic Updates.

Version 1.3
Removed strict verification of files, so it will only test for existence of TESV.exe. If files do not exist when it attempts to set file permissions, it ignores it and moves on. The exception to this is the TESV.exe file which must exist, so if it is missing or you have deleted local content before changing the state of Automatic Updates, creating an empty file named TESV.exe in your Skyrim root folder will allow the program to continue. Changed Deny Write ACL to Deny WriteData ACL. This will prevent the files from being overwritten, but programs can still change file attributes, so Wrye Bash users will no longer get exceptions. Improved determining location of Skyrim installation path. If it still is unable to find it, entering a valid path (i.e. it can find TESV.exe) will now be remembered.
NOTE: If v1.2 works for you, you do not need this update. However, if you do choose to upgrade, you will need to Enable then Disable Automatic Updates in order to get the file permissions change.

Version 1.2
Sorry for the issues folks. Fixed registry exceptions that I could find, and added the ability to enter the Skyrim path if it is unable to determine it. Just type it into the textbox, or click the button to the right to open the Folder Dialog. At this time it does not remember the setting, will work on that for the next update. Also added Deny Write ACL for Skyrim files. This will prevent the files from being overwritten as well. If you experience any exceptions, or other issues, post a comment with the problem, and what Windows version you are using (including 32 or 64 bit). Enjoy!
NOTE: If you still have Automatic Updates disabled from the original version, you will need to enable then disable again in order to get the file permission changes as well.

Version 1.1
New version is up that now also sets a Deny right for Delete on Skyrim specific files to prevent Steam from deleting them. Please note that I have tested this tool with Steam installed on a separate partition, but it still should work if you have it installed in C:\Program Files. It appears that Steam sets the Users group to Full Control, which makes sense so that it can auto-update without requiring elevated permissions. If you experience problems with a Steam install under C:\Program Files, send me a note so we can find the cause.

Steam Automatic Updates Background
There is some confusion when it comes to the Automatic Updates setting in Steam. Many believe that it is being ignored and that updates are being forced, but this is only partially true. In fact, Steam does honor the setting. The issue comes down to it constantly being reset back to "Allow...".

This is typically done in one of two ways.

  • Launching a game via Steam. This method will reset the Automatic Updates setting to "Allow...". This means that if the game can be launched outside of Steam, this setting is not touched. An example of this would be using SKSE to launch Skyrim.
  • Steam Client updates. Whenever the client updates itself, it typically resets Automatic Updates on all of your games back to "Allow...".

An additional problem also cropped up with the last patch update where Steam was deleting files in preparation for them being updated.

The Fix
When changing the Automatic Updates setting, Steam writes this setting to the registry for every game. After launching Skyrim Unplugged, clicking Disable will turn off Automatic Updates for Skyrim and prevent Steam from being able to change it. Clicking Enable will turn Automatic Updates back on and allow Steam to change it once again. The latest version also modifies file permissions of Skyrim specific files to prevent them from being deleted or overwritten.

Using Skyrim Unplugged to disable Automatic Updates will only prevent the Steam client from being able to update Skyrim. It will not prevent subscribed mod updates on Steam Workshop from being downloaded via the Skyrim Launcher.

If you need to Validate your game cache for Skyrim, you will need to re-nable Automatic Updates with Skyrim Unplugged, or missing/corrupt files will not be downloaded.

If you re-install Skyrim, be sure to enable Automatic Updates or the game will not install.
If you have deleted local content, or removed your TESV.exe file, Skyrim Unplugged will fail to disable Automatic Updates since it requires that file to exist. To get around that, create an empty file called TESV.exe in your Skyrim root folder so that you can Disable Automatic Updates.

Verifying the Change
The following steps allow you to verify that Skyrim Unplugged does in fact prevent Steam from resetting Automatic Updates.

  • Verify Automatic Updates - Open the Library view in Steam, right click on Skyrim, and select Properties. Click on the "Updates" tab and verify the setting of Automatic Updates. Most likely it will be set to "Allow...". Click the "Close" button when finished.
  • Disable Automatic Updates - Launch SkyrimUnplugged.exe and click on the "Disable" button. You can close the app now if you wish.
  • Verify Automatic Updates - Go back into Properties for Skyrim and verify that Automatic Updates now shows "Do not...".
  • Change Automatic Updates - Manually change Automatic Updates to "Allow..." and click the "Close" button.
  • Verify Reset of Automatic Updates - Go back into Properties for Skyrim and verify that Automatic Updates has reverted back to "Do not...".
  • Launch Skyrim Launcher - Start Skyrim via Steam and wait for the Skyrim Launcher to appear. Go back into Properties for Skyrim and verify that Automatic Updates is still set to "Do not...".

The following steps allow you to verify that Steam honors the Automatic Updates setting when it is set to "Do not...".

  • Disable Automatic Updates - Launch SkyrimUnplugged.exe and click on the Disabled button. If it is grayed out, Automatic Updates are already disabled.
  • Move TESV.exe - Move TESV.exe to a location outside of your Skyrim installation folder to serve as a backup.
  • Verify Game Cache - Open Properties for Skyrim and click on the "Local Files" tab, then click on the "Verify Integrity of Game Cache" button. A dialog will open showing the progress of validating the game install, and will eventually report that one file failed to validate and will be reacquired. Close the dialog and the Properties window.
  • Verify Download Status - At this point you would normally see the status of Skyrim change to downloading, but with Automatic Updates disabled, no files are reacquired. You can go into your Skyrim installation folder and verify that TESV.exe still does not exist.
  • Enable Automatic Updates - Go to your Skyrim root folder and create an empty file called TESV.exe. Go back to Skyrim Unplugged and click on the "Enable" button.
  • Verify Game Cache - Repeat the step to verify the game cache for Skyrim.
  • Verify Download Status - After being notified that one file will be reacquired, you will now see Steam start to download the missing file. Go into your Skyrim installation folder and verify that TESV.exe is being restored. Once the file has been fully downloaded, you will get a dialog box stating that Skyrim installation is complete.

Thanks go out to the following users for their support and testing.