can a project's .iws file be located separately from its .ipr file?

Background: I am on a distributed team of developers, we use svn for source control, and I had a bizarre error just now where doing Build --> Rebuild Project on my machine failed. The error message was that it was not finding all kinds of packages, but I could manually see those files on my file system. No one else on the team had this problem. So, I manually deleted the entire project directory hierarchy and resynched from svn. Magically, Build --> Rebuild Project now works.

Cool. Except that to my dismay, I see that a lot of stuff is missing when I bring IDEA back up and load our shared project (.ipr) file. For instance, IDEA now longer remembers what files I had previously been working on. Nor does it remember any of my run configurations.

I am not entirely sure how IDEA breaks down the storing of preferences and user history--I thought that all of this stuff was supposed to go in preferences file(s) in my user directory (which is completely separate from where I place the project directory).

But it looks like IDEA also creates a .iws file as a companion to your .ipr file (both are in the same directory), and that this file has a lot of these preferences.

Is there any way that I can tell IDEA to store all prefs in a directory completely separate from my project directory, so that if I have to do this procedure in the future, then I don't blow away my preferences?

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No, there's no such way. The settings stored in the .iws file are solely related to this particular project. Storing them in some common place would interfere with other projects. The only solution for your problem is to not delete the .iws file next time.

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