What are game files?
When you install Minecraft it creates an application folder called (funnily enough) minecraft. This folder holds all of the files needed to run the game, but it's also the place where files are created and stored each time you play and save. You're going to need to know where to find these folders if you want to do stuff like back them up, install mods or find your screenshots.
Where are they stored?
The minecraft folder is in a different spot depending on which operating system you're running:
Windows 7 or 8
C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\
In some operating systems you might need to unhide hidden files and folders before you can see these directories. In Windows this is a setting in the control panel. For example, in Windows 8 you find it under Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options ... then click Show hidden files and folders.
Which ones are important?
These are the subfolders that you're most likely to need to find at some point:
- Assets - Files that are used within the game, such as skins
- Bin - Home to the .jar folders in older versions of Minecraft, which are archives that contain all the really important game files (Note: the bin is not a trash can)
- Versions - Home to the .jar folders in newer versions of Minecraft
- Crash Reports - Text files that contain info about why the game might have crashed
- Resource Packs - Place where you put the resource packs you want to use (alternate sound and image files that change the way the game looks)
- Saves - The worlds that you've created, organized into subfolders named after each world
- Screenshots - Named with the time and date that the screenshot was taken
You're less likely to visit these ones:
- Libraries - Bits of code that the game calls on to do various in-game functions
- Logs - Files that keep a running record of stuff the game is doing behind the scenes, like when it saves or players log in
- Resources - Sound files used by the game
- Stats - Individual player data
Remember to backup!
It's a good idea to take copies of the minecraft folder from time to time, especially before installing any mods. You can re-download the game files at any time if something goes wrong, but you won't be able to restore your saved worlds or screenshots so it's particularly important to keep a copy of those.