How to change the game download location in Steam
Steam may face some fierce competition from Epic and Uplay, but it’s still a solid place to go for games right now. While digital downloads have gradually taken over for game discs, Steam is making it easier to manage hundreds of games. But what happens when you fill up your storage? Can you change the location of the game in Steam? Can you move games to another drive?
While Steam does a great job of managing your library, you can control where games are installed and even move them if you are upgrading your storage or want different locations.
Change game locations in Steam
For games that come on a disc, their size limit is based on storage capacity. The games require updates which are stored on a drive. Downloaded games are huge, but all files easily fit on hard drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD) in a central location, with a few exceptions, of course. It’s not uncommon for a game to take up 60 to 120 GB of storage, and with Downloadable Content (DLC), add-ons, mods, and save files, storage is very valuable.
Steam creates a default game storage folder but lets you choose where it creates it. You can also create different game folders in Steam and place them in other locations according to your needs. Here’s how to do it.
- Launch Steam, then click on “Steam -> Preferences” at the top.
- Select “Downloads” from the navigation menu on the left.
- In the “Content Libraries” section, click “STEAM LIBRARY FOLDERS”.
- In the “STORAGE MANAGER” window that appears, add a new folder to download / install your games. Click it “+” icon.
- Find a new folder and click “SELECT” to add it. You can also add a new folder by clicking on the folder in which you want a new one to reside and selecting “NEW FOLDER”.
Now every time you add a new game, Steam will ask you for the location to download and install it.
How to move downloads of existing Steam games
Many Steam users find that they are running out of space on the currently used partition of existing storage or have to replace the drive due to failure or upgrade to get more space. If Steam already exists and you already have games there, you can move them if you want. Here are some ways to change game download locations in Steam.
There is a goofy way to move your games, and there is a smart way. As I have tried both, I will describe both. This first way is the incorrect way, but it works.
- For a replacement drive or an upgraded drive, have your operating system recognize the new device and format it. Mac uses the Apple File System (APFS) and Windows uses the New Technology File System (NTFS).
- In the existing games location, delete any games you no longer need to speed up the whole process.
- Copy your Steam folder to the new drive.
- Start Steam, let it load, and select a game.
- Right click on the game and select “Properties.”
- To select “Local files” and “Check integrity of local files.”
- Select the new location for Steam when it says it can’t find local files.
Copying your Steam folder will take some time, which is why it makes sense to delete any games you don’t need. This solution does not work with all games, so you can uninstall it from Steam and reinstall it in the new location. You will not have to download the files again. You can ask Steam to identify the game and add it to your library.
A better way to move games to a new drive is to create a new games folder on that drive.
How to create a new games folder in Steam
Creating a new Steam game folder is arguably a better way to move games to other locations. The process is built into Steam and means you can add games wherever you want. This method is a better solution for changing a game’s folder as it does not require you to uninstall and rediscover the games in Steam.
- In Steam, click “Menu” at the top and select “Settings.”
- To choose “Downloads”, so “Steam library folders” of the Center.
- To select “Add a library folder” and point it to your new gaming location.
- Name your folder and select it to add it to your “Game Library”.
How to move games between Steam game folders
Once you have multiple folders, you can move games between them. If you added an additional drive to accommodate more games, you can add your new folder to the new drive and move games between them. Here’s how.
- Select the game, right click and select “Properties.”
- To choose “Local files,” so “Move the installation folder.”
- Select your new game folder and choose “Move the folder”.
This process keeps all Steam links for on-the-go and does not interfere with saved games or other settings.
Combine multiple disks into one partition in Windows 10 for Steam games
If you are adding a new player to your system, rather than moving games, turn up the volume to include the existing game player and the new one. Windows and Steam both see a single partition, but it spans two different hard drives or SSDs. You can do this multiple times, and it’s an easy way to manage disk space. Here’s how to do it.
- Add your new drive to your computer and have it formatted by Windows.
- Select any drive in Windows Explorer, right click and select “Manage.”
- To select “Disk management” from the left of the new window.
- Convert your game discs from “Basic” to “Dynamic” by right clicking and selecting “Convert to dynamic disk”.
- Select your original game disc, right click on it, then select “To deploy themselves.”
- Select the new drive in the new window and click “Add.”
- Enter a size for your new partition on the right and select “Next.”
- Click on “To finish” to validate your changes.
The above process is a much more elegant way to manage games in Steam. You can theoretically add more disks when you fill them up and extend the partition as much as you want!