It’s later on in a weekday evening, and I’m trucking around Azeroth on my tauren rogue-wannabe. Things are dying, life is fantastic, and the mail icon pops up by the minimap. Perfect – my stack of Stranglekelp must have finally sold on the AH. I give it an hour and a half, slaughtering the wildlife of the Shimmering Flats, then trot on over to the mailbox to pick up my hard-earned gold.
But that’s strange – it’s not there. The icon is pretty persistent, it seems rather convinced that I have mail, but there’s no mail in my mailbox. Maybe if I relog, it’ll show up. Nope, the mail is still missing. Obviously the mail server is fubar. If I petition a GM, he’ll be able to fix it, right?
An hour goes by and the GM appears in a puff of dramatically blue and purple smoke, and promptly tells me to reset my UI by renaming/deleting the Interface, Cache and WTF folders.
Okay, stop right there. Don’t pull your hair out, don’t smash your face against the keyboard, there is a reason for this and I’m going to explain it to you. That’s right, contrary to popular belief, the GMs go through this little routine for a reason – a reason known as troubleshooting.
Troubleshooting is the process by which a person can begin to solve a particular problem, starting with the most likely cause and working down the ladder of known issues until they either fix it or are forced to admit that it’s something entirely new. And, unless you go out of your way to demonstrate otherwise, that person must also assume that you’re a total idiot.
That is why the UI reset is always the first thing suggested – because it’s the most likely cause for a whole plethora of problems in-game. It’s an aspect of the game that is always active, which means the files are constantly being open and read, which means that they are ultimately very easily corruptible. And a corrupted UI can lead to a whole mess of commonly-experienced issues.
The above-mentioned mailbox issue, mob information issues, tradeskill issues, action bar issues, graphics issues, item issues – so many things that people wouldn’t think could be easily fixed by a UI reset. But it doesn’t stop there: those of us who are addon addicts (AA?) are well aware of the problems that can happen when two addons refuse to get along.
So when your petition is answered with the suggestion to clear your UI, try it. It could work! It could fix everything, otherwise the GM wouldn’t waste his and your time mentioning it in the first place. Navigate yourself to your World of Warcraft folder and pick out the Holy Trinity of folders: Interface, Cache, and WTF. If you’ve got some addons you really don’t want to risk losing, rename the folders to something – even adding a simple “-old” on the end will work fine. You could just move the folders to your desktop for the time being, or delete them if you really don’t care what happens to them.
Then – this part is easy – start up WoW. The game automatically creates those folders from scratch if they don’t already exist. This means that the UI will be as uncorrupted as your installation can possibly make it. Then determine if the problem is still there. If it’s not? Well, now you know where it originated from: right there in the interface. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then it’s time to move on to further diagnosis, which the GM may not be able to assist with, but will direct you to the people (Tech Support) who can.
One day, months and months ago, I logged in to my Survival hunter to find her naked. My heart skipped a beat – had I been hacked? Where was my gear? Did I log out at the bank last time? Is my bank still there? I cut off my panic with a bout of practicality and took a closer look at myself. Most of my gear was missing, but a few odd pieces remained. My bank was still chock-full of gems, too. But the biggest clue was mousing over other players and seeing them pop up as “Unknown.” I exited the game and dragged the Holy Trinity to my desktop and restarted WoW. To my relief, I logged in to a fully-clothed character, as normal.
It works, people. That’s why it’s there. So when in doubt, reset, reboot, reload. ^.^