If you’re a PC gamer, it’s pretty likely that you’re a Steam gamer, too. The platform has more than a billion members and over 120 million monthly active users, and there’s a lot of them wondering how to move Steam games to another drive without downloading them again.
With broadband internet and games going completely digital, developers are no longer limited by distribution methods. Unfortunately, this results in insane file sizes: Games like Destiny 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Quantum Break each require 150 GB of space to download and install.
However, there are a few ways to relocate these behemoths without having to re-download them. Get to your station, and let’s see how we can move some games around.
Reasons to Move Steam Games
Lack of Free Drive Space
There are a few benefits to moving Steam games to another drive. By default, Steam installs games in the “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common” folder. More often than not, C is the system drive, and it’s filled to the brim with your operating system, applications, and other games. Keep in mind that having a system partition with limited free space can severely influence your system’s performance.
To maintain optimal performance, it’s recommended to save around 25% and 15% of free space for SSDs and HDDs, respectively. As a result, the best way to play games without affecting efficiency is to allocate a larger drive or partition just for games.
Moving Steam Games to an SSD or HDD
Most gamers prefer using fast SSD drives since load times drop significantly with much higher read and write times. An SSD can help with open-world games as well, as such games contain far fewer loading screens but use ample system resources to load new areas seamlessly.
However, SSDs are often on the expensive side. Thankfully, gaming HDDs that use cache memory to boost their performance represent a more affordable alternative for gamers on a tighter budget.
Move Install Folder Feature
The best way to move Steam games to another drive is to use its ‘Move install folder’ feature. But first, there are a few steps we have to cover, starting with setting up our Steam Library Folders. To do so, go to the ‘Steam’ dropdown menu and choose ‘Settings.’
We need to add another library folder: By clicking on ‘Steam Libary Folders’ in the ‘Downloads’ menu, we’ll open up a list of currently active folders. As you can see from the screenshot below, both C and D drives are unlikely to have enough capacity for a larger game.
Before we move our Steam games, we’ll press ‘Add Library Folder’ and add a third drive to the list.
From the dropdown menu, choose your drive of choice (drive E in our case) and ‘SteamLibrary’ as the default directory name.
As you can see, we now have three locations to choose from when installing or moving games.
To move a game, you need to open your Steam Library, right-click on the title you want to relocate, and choose Properties from the dropdown menu.
In the newly opened window, under ‘Local Files,’ we will use the ‘Move install folder’ feature to change Steam’s install location for Hades.
Thanks to the previous steps, we can now choose drive E as the future install location.
Change Steam’s Install Location
If you’re a bit more ambitious and want to move the complete Steam installation along with the games, you can do this in a few steps.
First, make sure the Steam application is closed and locate Steam’s installation directory with Windows File Explorer (usually “C:\Program Files(x86)\Steam”).
Before trying this out, make sure to remember your username, password, and access to the email linked with the account, as you will need those to log in later.
Once you’re in the directory, delete everything except for the steamapps and userdata folders. Now you’re ready to move Steam to another drive by cutting and pasting its folder to a new destination (for example, E:\Games). Next, start Steam and log in.
After a short update, open the Steam Library and verify your games’ installation. It’s a straightforward process, and all you have to do is right-click on all titles you want to check and choose Properties from the dropdown menu. You will need to open the ‘Local files’ tab and click on the ‘Verify integrity of game files’ button, to verify your games after moving Steam to another drive or just another folder.
That’s it! You’re good to go. Steam will check the installation and make sure that everything is running smoothly.
What to Do if You Can’t Move a Game
If you are like us and often install and reinstall games and use multiple directories for them, you may experience this issue. Even though we had our game installed on drive D, we wanted to move it to C. We got an error message saying, “Game install folder already exists in selected Steam library.”
If so, you’re probably wondering how to move a Steam game to another drive when the application doesn’t let you? Fortunately, this is an easily fixable problem.
What’s stopping you from moving your game (in our case, “Slay the Spire”) is that you still have an empty game folder on drive C from your previous installation. Steam sees this almost empty folder (marked in red) and won’t move the game.
To fix this, just remove the empty folder in your destination directory – in our case, the one on drive C.
After deleting the empty folder from Steam, move the install folder the same way as before.
Can I move my Steam games to another hard drive?
Yes, you can. Use Steam’s ‘Move install folder’ feature to quickly relocate games between different Steam library folders.
How do I move games from C drive to D drive?
First, you need to make sure that you have a Steam library folder set up on D drive. You can add new folders by opening settings from the Steam dropdown menu under the ‘Downloads’ tab. After adding another Steam library, you will be able to move any Steam game to another drive.
How do I move Steam to an SSD?
You can move the Steam app easily: To do so, you will first have to clear out the complete Steam installation folder except for the steamapps and userdata folders. After moving the Steam folder to your SSD, launch the Steam application and verify the file integrity of the games you copied. For more details, check our guide.
How do I move a Steam game to another drive without downloading?
If you are wondering how to move Steam games to another drive without downloading them, check out our guide. Steam has a useful ‘Move install folder’ option, and we cover in detail how to use it and what to do if you are unable to move your game.