How To Migrate Steam To a New Hard Drive

Chris Hoffman 11-07-2012

migrate steam folderUnlike most Windows applications The Best PC Software for Your Windows Computer Want the best PC software for your Windows computer? Our massive list collects the best and safest programs for all needs. Read More , 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 How To Move Windows Software To Another Hard Drive Without Breaking Anything Move any Windows program to another hard drive, without breaking the program. If your primary hard drive is full, and what you've put on there is software, SymMover is what you're looking for. Many people... Read More 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:

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 How to Choose Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Windows Operating Systems Should you download 32-bit or 64-bit Windows? Here are the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit installations to help you decide. Read More ). 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 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer Windows Explorer is the default Windows file manager. Last week I introduced you to 3 easy ways to improve Windows 7 Explorer by tweaking features and using it to its full potential. In this article,... Read More in the folder, then Ctrl+Click the SteamApps folder and Steam.exe file.

migrate steam folder


You should now have an empty folder containing only the SteamApps folder – which contains your downloaded games A Selection Of The Best Free-To-Play Steam Games Content delivery service Steam is a real money-spinner for Valve, prompting publishers like EA to shy away from it in pursuit of their own system. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of free gems... Read More — and the Steam.exe program.

migrate steam games to another 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 5 Ways to Transfer Files From One Computer to Another Need to transfer files from one PC to another? Here's how to do that quickly and easily, using both hardware and software. Read More ), 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.


migrate steam games to another 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.

migrate steam games to another 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 Buy, Trade & Giveaway Steam Games With This Awesome Network Of Sites Steam! You either love it for being one of the largest and most successful gaming communities online, or you absolutely hate it because you're completely against all that hoopla over digital rights. With that in... Read More and look for the games with cloud icons. Steam also stores other things online, including game screenshots The Secret To Capturing Top Quality Screenshots With Steam [MUO Gaming] Grabbing an action-packed screenshot from a video game can be tough. More often than not using the standard Print Screen command in Windows will result in a blank screen being captured; this is true for... Read More  you take.


migrate steam games

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.

migrate steam folder

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.


migrate steam games

Remember to stay in touch with your fellow gamers, whether on your computer or on-the-go, with Discord or Steam Chat Discord vs. Steam Chat: Which Is the Best App for Gamers? Not sure between Discord and Steam Chat? Here's everything you need to know about online messaging for gamers. Read More .

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. TheDarkInferno
    January 22, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Do not use this! It totally wrecked my steam, i followed it exactly do not do it find another way!

  2. antony
    November 24, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Moved all my steam games to another drive but now all my shortcut icons are just a plain white paper icon can anybody help

  3. Anonymous
    June 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Yeah... this didn't work for me. And it's not just you, Steam also has pretty much the same directions on their help also.

    I did step by step what you said... over 640Gigs of games.... Steam just will not allow me to verify. They are there, but my steam shows no games installed, and going to Properties to verify game by game... no go, as option is greyed out.

    Oh well... time to start downloading again. :(

  4. Socialclubssucks
    April 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Used for gta 5 , game won't start :(

  5. dfg
    March 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks for this simple yet elegant tip. Why isn't it in steam FAQ already?

  6. ram
    March 12, 2015 at 8:34 am

    hey, what if there's no steam.exe but there's steam.exe.old?? what should i do??

  7. bob
    February 14, 2015 at 10:32 am

    This article is is not correct, I have over 40gb that steam doesn't regonise and have to redownlaod every file to the exact same place on the same drive.

  8. Moes
    January 19, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I used freefile sync and move my entire steamapps to another drive, then deleted the old steam after the newone was working!

    Thanks for the tip, just don't use windows only to copy 100Gb+ with lots of small files as you cant resume propperly ^^

    • Det Pack
      October 22, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Thank-you this free program is so awesome!

  9. Kat L
    December 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Okay I know this is an old post but I just wanted to say thank you as I've just moved my steam games from one laptop to another using a removable hard drive. One thing I would add however is that some save games are read/write protected for the original PC only. However you can resolve this by right clicking on the game folder and allowing all to have read/write access rather than read only. Then copy it over to the new laptop / pc and all is right with the world :-)

  10. Marko
    January 3, 2013 at 2:59 am

    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:" ???

  11. Jake Francis
    December 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    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..

  12. Tucker
    December 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    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?


  13. Alexander Clare
    November 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    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.

  14. Ed Lucas
    October 31, 2012 at 6:24 pm

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

  15. Igor
    October 26, 2012 at 9:14 am

    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 !

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      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:

  16. KW
    October 22, 2012 at 1:36 am

    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?

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      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.

      • KW
        November 3, 2012 at 7:36 am

        OK, that as helpful. Thank you!

  17. SirDavies
    October 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    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.

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      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.

    October 14, 2012 at 12:31 am

    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

  19. Sam C
    September 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    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?

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 20, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      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.

  20. Matt Robert
    September 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    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?

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 2:46 am

      You wouldn't want to do this with an external hard drive -- too slow.

  21. Michael
    September 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    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!

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 2:46 am

      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.)

  22. Adam
    September 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

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

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 2:47 am

      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.

  23. Adam
    September 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm

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

  24. youssef hafez
    July 18, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    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

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 24, 2012 at 2:46 am

      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.

      • Matt
        October 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

        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

  25. Gian Singh
    July 17, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    this should make everything quicker for me

  26. Kylee Kanavas
    July 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm

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

  27. Allen Barnett
    July 13, 2012 at 12:04 am

    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.

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 2:38 am

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

  28. Tom O'Neal
    July 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    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.

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 2:38 am

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

  29. Tanguy Djokovic
    July 12, 2012 at 9:56 am

    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?

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 2:37 am

      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.

  30. Justin Boyle
    July 12, 2012 at 1:22 am

    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.

    • Chris Hoffman
      July 17, 2012 at 2:37 am

      Yikes! You don't have to do that -- it would take forever!

      • Justin Boyle
        July 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

        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!