How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

Steam Logo 300   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard DriveUnlike most Windows applications, Steam can be easily moved between hard drives without redownloading or reinstalling anything. If you want to put Steam on a new hard drive – say, if you’ve bought a new computer or a larger hard drive for your games – you can copy your games over without going through a long download process.

This is just one of the things that makes Steam awesome – if you have hundreds of gigabytes of games installed, good luck easily moving them to a new hard drive unless you use Steam. While Steam stores all its games inside the Steam folder, some save files for third-party games are stored elsewhere and may require a bit more work to transfer.

Getting Started

Before continuing, you should be aware of a couple things:

  • Ensure you remember your Steam account name and password. You’ll have to re-enter both when you follow this procedure. You should also ensure that your Steam account is linked to an email account you still have access to, in case your need to reset your password.
  • External hard drives are a useful way to transfer Steam’s files between computers, but you shouldn’t run Steam off an external hard drive. Playing a game off an external hard drive connected over USB will result in poor performance.

Moving Your Steam Folder

First, close Steam if it’s running. After you do, browse to the Steam folder on your hard drive. By default, Steam installs to C:\Program Files\Steam (on 32-bit versions of Windows) or C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam (on 64-bit versions of Windows). If you installed Steam to a custom location, check there instead.

In the Steam folder, select all the files except the SteamApps folder and the Steam.exe file and delete them. To quickly select the files, press Ctrl+A in the folder, then Ctrl+Click the SteamApps folder and Steam.exe file.

deleting steam files   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

You should now have an empty folder containing only the SteamApps folder – which contains your downloaded games — and the Steam.exe program.

steam files to migrate   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

Move the entire Steam folder to a new location. If you’re placing it on a new hard drive in your existing system, move it to a location like D:\Steam. If you’re migrating your Steam files to a new computer, copy the Steam folder to an external hard drive (or transfer it over the network), then place it anywhere you like on your new hard drive.

Once you’ve moved the Steam folder, launch Steam by double-clicking the Steam.exe file and log into your account. Steam will automatically download the few necessary files.

steam login   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

Before playing a game, you may want to verify its cache – in other words, check to make sure all its files are present on your system and aren’t corrupted. If Steam finds a problem, it will redownload the appropriate files. To verify a game’s cache, right-click the game in Steam, select Properties, click the Local Files tab, and click the Verify Integrity of Game Cache button.

steam verify integrity of game cache   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

Migrating Game Saves

Many games store their save files in Steam Cloud, which stores your game saves online and synchronizes them between your computers. To check which of your installed games support Steam Cloud, click the List View button at the top right corner of your Steam games library and look for the games with cloud icons. Steam also stores other things online, including game screenshots you take.

view steam cloud games   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

Unfortunately, many games do not support Steam Cloud. Some of these games will store their save files an an obvious location, such as the My Games folder in your Documents directory. To copy these saves over, copy the My Games directory and place it in the same location on your other computer.

my games folder in documents   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

To copy a specific game’s save files over, you can try searching for its save game location on Google. However, you might want to use GameSave Manager, which is a faster way to migrate many game saves over at once. While GameSave Manager doesn’t support every game, it can quickly scan your hard drive for game saves and package them into a single, convenient file. This file can be restored on another computer using GameSave Manager, effectively migrating your saved games to the other computer.

gamesave manager   How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

Have you ever moved Steam to another hard drive? Did you run into any problems? Feel free to leave a comment below – we’ll answer any questions you have.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

37 Comments -

0 votes

Justin Boyle

This. Changes. Everything. As a tinkerer, I’m constantly messing up my computer, and restoring it from backups. But I’ve always re-downloaded my Steam games. All ~100GB of them.

1 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yikes! You don’t have to do that — it would take forever!

0 votes

Justin Boyle

Yeah. Half my games usually remain uninstalled until I have the desire to play them. Since reading this, I am now taking steps to back up all of my Steam games. Thanks!

0 votes

Tanguy Djokovic

Hallelujah !! I’m in that exact position, since I’m about to buy a new computer.
btw, can we transfert the save files from one computer to another if there is no cloud?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

You can, but it will take more work! Some games may store their saves in the Steam directory, while some will store them elsewhere on your system — you’ll have to find each game’s saves and transfer them individually. GameSave Manager does this for you for supported games, which is why it’s awesome.

0 votes

Tom O’Neal

This is a great tip! I also learned recently that you can copy game folders from computer to computer without having to download them from scratch.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yup, it depends on the game though — some games won’t let you do this and will need to be reinstalled.

0 votes

Allen Barnett

Sure wish I knew this a couple of months ago when I bought a new PC. Oh well good to know anyway. hope it saves some people some extra work.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Hope it saves you work in the future, at least!

0 votes

Kylee Kanavas

Im sure lots of people enjoy this. I know what im doing this afternoon.

0 votes

Gian Singh

this should make everything quicker for me

0 votes

youssef hafez

Now i followed ur article to the letter, and btw thank you for contribuiting your time for this information so when i started copying to the other bigger drive its copies around 10 gigs and just hangs … on a file called “winui.gcf”
so i took it alone and said ill copy it last so it copies all the files … now when i paste
it just hangs there not moving an inch for like 4 hours, so finnally i decided to cancel, its 51 gigs im copying i have free disk space how ever not all my games are up to date, might that be the case? please reply and thank you for ur time

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Hmm. Are you sure you have Steam closed?

You probably don’t need to copy winui.gcf, anyway. If you copy only part of the files, you can use the Verify game files option in Steam and Steam will redownload any missing files.

Aside from that, there could be a problem with your OS or hard disk — these files should be copyable with no problems, like other files on your hard drive.

0 votes

Matt

Sorry, this was probably answered a long time ago(answered/fixed whatever), but also make sure that you have turned off steam and all processes to do with steam in the background, just in case theres a file thats still being used by the system, and therefore wont copy because of that

0 votes

Adam

Thank you so much for this, it was very helpful!

0 votes

Adam

I have one question, how do you get all the desktop shortcuts to appear? please email me with answer.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Well, you can just right-click the Steam exe file and create a shortcut, then place it on your desktop. You can also reinstall Steam to the same folder — the shortcuts will be recreated and your games will be preserved.

0 votes

Michael

I guess this is only for Steam? I have Steam Installed, but there are other games that are installed scattered all around in different locations on a different disk(internal) and partitions due to lack of space! Is it possible to backup these Games too along with steam backup or I have to forget it and go through a long process of reinstall?!!

Am about to reformat my computer from scratch, this time though leaving plenty of room for the OS’, programs, and games then continue with Steam restore. So it would help to know if it’s possible or a no go!

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Depends on the game. Some games will work properly if you copy their files over (I know Guild Wars 2 will, for example), but most games won’t (sadly.)

0 votes

Matt Robert

So, by doing this i will be able to play any steam games from the hard drive ? Does this work with external hard drives as well?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

You wouldn’t want to do this with an external hard drive — too slow.

0 votes

Sam C

I do not have a file named steam.exe in that folder. I do have one named steam and when i click on properties it is an .exe file. Is this the right one?
And also, how do you transfer saves between hard drives?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yup, that’s the one. Windows just hides file extensions by default.

As far as saves, that’s more complicated — check the article above where I devoted some time to explaining it. Different games do different things.

0 votes

CRUZITO

can you help me i don’t wanna move all my games just my account folder register i install a new steam and a new pc but when i enter my account name and password i just can’t log on they do some question what i’m forgotten when i did my account thx

0 votes
0 votes

SirDavies

I want to transfer my Steam files to a second internal hard drive on the same computer. What happens with the game saves then? Do I have to create a “my games” folder on the second hard drive or will it find the saves in the first hdd? Please answer.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Nope, you won’t have to move your save files at all if you’re moving games around on the same computer! Don’t worry about it.

0 votes

KW

Thank you for this post. This would have saved me a lot of trouble when I switched to a new computer this past summer, had I known about it then, but it will be useful in the future I’m sure.

I also discovered that Steam offers a feature to back up currently installed games, which I assume should also allow me to also restore the backed up games to a new hard drive, I am wondering if there are any noticeable differences or advantages and disadvantages between doing it one way or the other?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

The Steam backup feature is designed more for backing up individual games — think of it like making a copy of a game’s installer disc, you just have one game and don’t have your save files.

Valve recommends the above procedure if you want to back up *all* your games along with save files and configuration files.

0 votes

KW

OK, that as helpful. Thank you!

0 votes

Igor

in new machine I installed steam to D drive, after loading game from steam (many hrs await) the game is temporarily unavailable.try again later. already 2 weeks i try to fix it and nothing helps. what u say steam reply in a week thats a fast reaction !

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Try right-clicking the game in Steam, selecting Properties, clicking the Local Files tab, and clicking the Verify Integrity of Game Cache button.

that helps with a lot of file-related issues. Failing that, definitely contact Steam support and make them help you: https://support.steampowered.com/

0 votes

Ed Lucas

Thanks for the post. easy to read and straight to the point, getting a new 1 tb hdd just for steam next week :)

0 votes

Alexander Clare

Hey Thanks so much man, this really cleared up a lot of space on my SSD, which is only 120 GB and I really only wanted to use for the OS.

1 votes

Tucker

Hi, thanks for this. We have a computer that is running out of disk space so we are adding a new drive. We plan to move the steam installation to the new drive as you have said. We also have other games that have the saved games in different locations. Moving the stem folder will save about 500 gb on the old hard drive. Could we leave the other games, not part of the steam folder, where they are without moving them? We will possibly have saved enough space on the old hd so leaving the other games where they are would be ok space wise. Do you think all the games will still work?

Thanks

0 votes

Jake Francis

Hey mate, I did this completely the way it was shown, but none of my games saved.. I have to re install all of them. Even know all the game and it’s content on on the new drive and in the steam app folder, should i just re install, or is there a way around this? All the files are there, there is no way to tell steam that it’s there and that i don’t have to re install..

0 votes

Marko

You say that for the third party games we need to move the “My games” folder to the same location… but where do I move it if my other drive is “F:” in the same computer… or do I leave it in “C:” ???