This process is actually quite easy and smooth if you know your ways around computers and OS, and if you are asking this question you probably are .
Assuming you have a default installation of Windows on C drive (this is for Win7 btw), you can find all the files you are looking for at the following location. If you installed the game directly from Steam, hummm, idk, that might be a little more trickier than that.
From within this directory you will be able to find one directory per account you have (not characters, accounts) listed with your account names, the names you use to log in game.
And within theses account directories, you will then find characters directories of this account.
Something labeled like :
Hint: The char you created first has the lowest number. Note that if you created chars you then deleted, they will still be here. To identify each of your chars if you have many, you can log that char in game, and then check the directory for last modified files.
Most of the files you can find in those directories are in .xml format, plain text readable and pretty self explanatory if you are used to computer programming.
Before they used to backup those files in the ‘cloud’ causing many problems with overwriting your local files forbidding you to save settings but they recently removed this, so yeah making a backup of your local files seems like a very relevant and important thing to do.
Small notes along the way:
- you will find a hotkeys.xml file within any account directory (very important one) and that file is shared for all chars made into that account.
- you cannot dock most windows too close to borders like top or bottom, they need to be a few pixels away, or it wont save.
- to get your current in game settings to save, you need to to wait the 15s to logout doing the regular quit, exit, /camp or ALT+F4
You can easily copy those files over from one account to an other when the settings are to your liking on one of them. You can also write protect them so they are not getting overridden by some weird game mechanics or by accident or if for example you are using more than one computer and want to force some settings like resolution for a specific rig. (they may have fixed all this together with the update, but frankly after god knows how many years they did not fix those settings not saving, I am not going to try, my method works). Just dont forget to delete your guild tab and recreate it if you copy the same backup for chars in different guilds.
Btw if by clean install you meant reinstalling OS and not just the game, knows that if you have sufficient storage facilities (~30G+) you can backup the whole game directory and copy it over once you reinstalled your OS. If you did not change the paths on your new installation running the patcher from within the game directory should fix the thing and allow you to run the game without having to go through the whole download process again.
There you go