Here is a full and complete step-by-step set of instructions for copying characters, downloading/installing the Public Test Realm, running the PTR, patching and reinstalling the PTR, and getting on the public test realm and TTR. This guide is written for a beginner-level audience, but expects basic knowledge of using a web browser and getting around the filesystem.

The most common errors posted on the PTR forum are caused by people not following the bolded instructions. Make sure to follow them!

New for 3.3.5 PTR: Players MUST copy a character to the PTR before they will be able to log in to the client.

Re: Weird PTR bug | 2010-05-12 01:56 | Blizzard Entertainment Dresorull

For this PTR phase, you'll have a single dummy WoW account added to your account just to access the PTR. All character transfers and copies to the PTR from any of your live accounts will show up on that dummy PTR account when they've completed.

This is unique from past PTR phases where you had access to all of your WoW accounts on the PTR.

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Copying characters

In order to do useful testing on the Public Test Realm, QA has given us the ability to copy our own characters or to potentially use premade max-level and well-equipped characters to test on the PTR so we don't have to begin a level 1 character and level it instead of testing. To use premades, you must have updated your account to Wrath of the Lich King at least 6 weeks before the PTR opened!

To actually copy a character, go to the character copy page and follow the instructions. Make sure you are not playing WoW when attempting to copy your character. Make sure you choose a realm that fits your play style, as there are both PvP and PvE test realms.

Copying characters is a one-way operation: You will be copying your character from the real server you play on to the PTR, as it was when you last logged out. What you do on the PTR has no effect on your real character on the live realms. Your PTR character and all of its experience, items, and gold will not be getting transferred back to the live realms, either.

"Premade" character copies may or may not be available, so take a quick look at the stickies on the Test Realm Forums.

There tend to be issues with copying characters due to the immense demand that is placed on the servers handling the copies. If you are seeing errors, please cancel out and try again later. QA is usually aware of problems with the copy servers instantly, so please do not flood the forum with character-copy threads. That being said, the Estimated Queue Time is usually accurate, so simply be patient and wait until the character is copied. As long as the characters status is "pending", the character will be copied.

Downloading and installing the PTR

Now that your character is hopefully in the process of getting copied over to the test server that you selected, it's time to download the PTR.

The PTR is a special version of WoW that stands on its own from your regular copy of WoW. Go to the download page and select "PC" or "Mac" in order to download the client. Click "PC" if you're running Windows, "Mac" if running OS X and above. Linux users should probably downloading the Windows version to run via Wine.

Once the PTR installer is done downloading (it's around 100MiB or so), run it. It should ask you where you want to install the PTR. The default location typically works fine. If it doesn't ask, and instead complains about WoW not being installed: right-click on whatever shortcut you use to start World of Warcraft and choose the "Run as administrator" option. Log in, then exit. Then rerun the PTR installer.

Remember where you choose to install the PTR, so that you can access it later if need be. The base PTR install is a second copy of World of Warcraft on your computer, at version 4.0.0 (build 12824). Since we're past that now, there will be a large amount of downloads to follow to patch it up to the latest build of the PTR (about 1-2GB).

Once you have finished installing the Launcher for the Public Test realm will come up. If necessary it will download a small update to update the Launcher and run again. Depending on how many patches it needs to download it will loop the patching process until finished. This is normal. It will download a patch installer, update the PTR then download the next patch it needs. Your patience is required with this :)

Please note that as the PTR phase progresses Blizzard will put out new builds regularly. These need to be downloaded and installed one by one in order to get on the PTR. A good idea to keep your PTR updated is to log on the PTR at least once per week or whenever they put out a new build. Make sure you are starting the PTR up by opening the Launcher inside the World of Warcraft Public Test folder. This is to make sure you download any needed Launcher updates

Updating the PTR

For the last few PTR's Blizzard have actually made it possible to update your Old PTR folder. That's right you don't have to wipe your "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder at the end of a PTR phase.

You can just update it simply by opening the "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder and opening the Launcher.exe inside that folder. The Launcher should automatically download a patch installer to upload your old Public Test Realm folder to the new PTR.

Re: PTR Installation | 2010-05-12 11:37 | Blizzard Entertainment Ancilorn

The PTRs are using a new system wherein a permanent copy of the game client can be kept on your hard drive. As you connect to the Public Test Realm, the latest build of the PTR will be automatically downloaded to your computer. There's no more need to delete your WoWTest folder between PTRs or download new builds! It will all be handled from this one installation from now on.

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Public Test Realm Version Numbers

The public test realm uses a different version numbering system then Live.

All PTR version numbers will begin with zero. This it to prevent the installer mistakenly installing the Data from the PTR over live.


0.2 = 3.2 PTR
0.3.0 = 3.3 PTR
0.3.3 = 3.3.3 PTR
0.3.5 = 3.3.5 PTR

It will also have a build number as well at the end. EG is PTR 3.3.5 build 11993.

This can also assist you in understanding what each patch updater is going to do.

EG WoW- will update the 3.3.3 PTR to the 3.3.5 PTR

Running the PTR

To get back to the PTR, there are a few options:

  • Use the new "World of Warcraft Public Test" option in the programs menu
  • Get to the "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder and run that copy of WoW. It has a green "T" icon.
  • Go to the "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder and run the Launcher inside that folder

Please note that you must use the password you had when the PTR activated. Your account as a whole must also have been active for at least seven weeks before the PTR was activated, if not since the date specified on the Character Copy page.

If you would like to use the Launcher to access the PTR, but it doesn't show by default, click the "Show Launcher" checkbox in the lower-left corner of the login screen, log in and then exit out of WoW. The Launcher should then show.

If you're getting stuck at "Connecting" or "Handshaking" while attempting to log in, follow the upcoming instructions, remembering to try to log in after completing each step:

  1. Reboot your computer
  2. Follow the instructions at Are you having problems connecting to the game? (US Blizzard support article).
  3. Check your firewall and/or router.
  4. Rename the file in your World of Warcraft Public Test folder to something else (like (this file would be in the Data folder -> locale folder)
  5. Rename the WTF folder in your World of Warcraft Public Test folder to something else (like WTF.old).
  6. Follow the instructions in the Reinstalling the PTR section.

If you're frequently getting disconnected, follow the instructions at the following US Blizzard support articles: Why do I keep getting disconnected? and Do NPCs and/or players show up as 'Unknown?'.

That's it, good luck, and don't forget to report all of the bugs you find with the /bug tool in-game!

Patching the PTR

There are often a multitude of small patches required in order to get the PTR up to date. For most users, simply running the PTR (and/or the Launcher) will download and install the patches without any issues.

If you're having trouble getting all of the patches because the PTR is trying to download the same patch over and over, try this:

  • Exit out of the PTR and any updaters/downloaders you have running
  • Get to your World of Warcraft Public Test folder

You should see some files ending with "-patch". Run the highest -patch program you have. Make sure you run it as an administrator if you're on Vista. If you don't get an error when you run that patch, try logging in.

If you're still getting directed to download the same patch again, or are having errors patching, try reinstalling the PTR.

Reinstalling the PTR

Quick instructions for a clean reinstall:

  1. Get to your "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder
  2. Save as many of the patch files as you have so you don't have to re-download them (copy them to the Desktop or some place similar) (these will have -patch.exe and -downloader.exe in their name)
  3. Delete or rename your "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder
  4. Run the repair tool on your regular copy of WoW
  5. Go back to the Download Client page, download the installer and follow the instructions listed in the Downloading and installing the PTR section.
  6. After the initial PTR install, move the patch files you saved in step 2 back to your "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder
  7. Open the Launcher inside the "World of Warcraft Public Test" folder. Or Run the patches in order from lowest to highest

Make sure you always run patches with administrator privileges. Also make sure that your whole WoW folder is not set to read-only.

Uninstalling the PTR

If you no longer wish to take part in the Public Test realms you can uninstall the PTR if you wish.

After the PTR is finished being tested, the patch will be pushed to the Live Servers, and the PTR realms and forums will close

  1. If you want to backup and screenshots or patches for archiving purposes, feel free to do so. The screenshots are located in the World of Warcraft Public Test\Screenshots folder and the Patches are scattered throughout your main World of Warcraft Public Test folder.
  2. You may also want to backup any Beta/Updated Addons you have installed on the PTR, which can be found in the World of Warcraft Public Test\Interface\AddOns Folder. You can simply copy/paste those to another folder of your choosing. It is possibly better to wait for post patch day updates as Blizzard have been known to sneak API changes in between Live and the PTR
  3. To uninstall simply delete your World of Warcraft Public Test folder

Unsupported platforms

For Linux, see Wine. There's also an AppDB entry for the 2.2.2 PTR. No doubt Cedega and Crossover Office have their own support channels. Blizz does not support WoW on any of these platforms - however they've been known to be co-operative with those prepared to do the legwork to ascertain causes of bugs that are from upstream. Please, if you're going to use an unsupported platform to play WoW, caveat emptor and be prepared to do a lot of your own legwork if things don't go well. Just don't complain to Hortus in the Test Realm Forum, or to the Tech Support Forum, if/when things go wrong. Use your normal support channels for that.

Installing UI modifications

Players can install UI mods for the PTR client much the same way that they would for the regular client, but with a few caveats:

  • The realm name and often your character name is different. To compensate when copying your addons' settings over, copy from
    • World of Warcraft/WTF/Account/<Your Account>/<Your Realm>/<Your Character> to
    • World of Warcraft Public Test/WTF/Account/<Your Account>/Test Server (US <PVE/PVP>)/<Your Character>
  • The live and PTR addon environment are often very different. Use the most up-to-date beta versions of the mods and please file bug reports with the mod authors so bugs can get fixed.

Courtesy of ElinkIcon-armory.png Valyra from Alleria:

  1. Open up two explorer windows, one pointing to your World of Warcraft directory and the other pointing to your World of Warcraft Public Test' directory.
  2. Copy your WTF folder from your World of Warcraft directory to your 'World of Warcraft Public Test directory.
  3. Browse to WTF in 'World of Warcraft Public Test. This is the folder which has your computer-specific settings (seen in You do not have to modify any files in this folder.
  4. Browse to Account/<YourAccountName>. This is the folder which has all of your account-specific settings. You do not have to modify any files in this folder.
    • Rename the <YourServerName> folder to Test Server(US PVE) or Test Server(US PVP).
  5. Browse to the new Test Server(US <PVE/PVP>) folder. This is the folder which has all of your server-specific settings for the server from which you copied your character. There should be no files in this folder.
  6. Rename the <YourLiveCharacterName> folder to <YourPTRCharacterName>. For example, if your name on live is "Valyra" and your name on PTR is "Valyratest", rename the Valyra folder to Valyratest. DO NOT BROWSE TO THIS FOLDER.
  7. Go back to the <YourAccountName> folder and browse to SavedVariables. This is the folder which contains all your account-specific saved variables, such as your UnitFrame and Bar Addon settings.
  8. OPTIONAL: I do this to make things easier on myself but it is by no means necessary. Sort by file type. Delete all files with the .bak file extension. You should now have only files with the .lua file extension.
  9. Sort by file size. Any file larger than 1KB is likely to have information stored regarding character- and/or server-specific settings. Open each file in succession using a text editor (Notepad will do the trick; I recommend TextPad) and do the following:
    • IF YOU DID NOT HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR NAME, SKIP THIS STEP. Open up Find/Replace in your text editor. Enter YourLiveCharacterName in the "To Replace" or "Find" field. Enter YourPTRCharacterName in the "Replace with" field. Do this for every file above 1KB.
    • Open up Find/Replace in your text editor. Enter YourServerName in the "To Replace" or "Find" field. Enter Test Server (US PVE) or Test Server (US PVP) in the "Replace with" field. Do this for every file above 1KB.
  10. Save all the files when done and log in to World of Warcraft Public Test'.

A simpler way to update character/server name in your WTF folder

Courtesy of Anúbereth from Earthen Ring EU:

The above procedure described by Valyria can be accomplished more easily if you have a command line and perl. This is the case for OS X or Windows with cygwin or if you mount your Warcraft folder on a unix box. If you meet these requirements you can simply run the following two commands in your WTF folder to replace your character and server name in all files:

find . -exec perl -pi -e "s/Anúbereth/AnúberethOnTest/g" {} \;
find . -exec perl -pi -e "s/Earthen Ring/Test Server (EU PVP)/g" {} \;

Replace my character/server name with your name/server and you're done.

Another way to update character/server name in your WTF folder

See Migrate WTF script for copying your WTF to the test realm installation.

Common technical problems and fixes

Bluspacecow has quite a good thread with a lot of common technical problems and fixes for the PTR on wowinterface at :

Public Test Realm install guide and common bugs & fixes

Miscellaneous Information

  • The main PTR website can be found Here for US accounts and Here for EU accounts . It includes a link to the Official PTR FAQ, the Download PTR page, PTR/TTR Forums, and the Character Copy page.
  • You can always find a copy of the latest test realm patch notes here and the complete Lua/XML Notes should be found in a sticky in the UI&Macros Forum.
  • When the PTR is officially launched, Gradina or Maaven will do a "PTR Introduction Forum run" as I like to call it. He will post a few stickies about the current PTR, like his FAQ, the Patch notes, and any other needed information.
  • You can view the Tester's guide to the Feedback Tool by Sixen aka Elzix.