How To Change the Game Download Location in Steam
Steam may be facing stiff competition from the likes of Epic or Uplay but it is still the place to go for games right now. As digital downloads have taken over from DVDs, Steam makes managing hundreds of games simple. But what happens when you fill up your hard drive? Can you change the game location in Steam? Can you move games to a different drive?
Yes and yes.
While Steam does a good job of managing itself, you can control where games are installed and even move them if you upgrade your drives.
Game locations in Steam
When games came on DVD, their size was limited by the storage available. Now we download our games, some of them are huge. It isn’t unusual for a game to take up 60-80GB of storage now and with DLCs, addons, mods and save games, storage is very much at a premium.
Steam will create its own games storage folder by default but does let you choose where it creates it. You can also create different games folders within Steam and have them in different locations so suit your needs. If Steam is already installed and you already have games there, you can move them if you want.
Moving an existing game location in Steam
I had to do this recently when I replaced a drive. I had over 300GB of games installed so wanted to move them to the new drive rather than download them all again. It is more straightforward than you might imagine.
First, install your drive and have your operating system recognize and format it. I use Windows 10 so will describe that. Mac users have the same options but will likely be called different things.
There is a clunky way to move your games and a sensible one. As I tried both, I’ll describe both. This first way is the inexact way but it works.
- Remove any games you no longer need installed to make the entire process faster.
- Copy your Steam folder to the new drive.
- Start Steam, let it load and select a game.
- Right click the game and select Properties.
- Select Local Files and Verify Integrity of Local Files.
- Select the new location for Steam when it says it cannot find local files.
Copying your Steam folder will take a while which is why it makes sense to remove any games you don’t need. This doesn’t work with every game so you may want to uninstall the game from Steam and reinstall it from the new location. You won’t have to download the files again, you can have Steam identify the game and add it to your library.
A better way to move games to a new drive is by creating a new games folder in that drive.
Create a new games folder in Steam
This is arguably a better way to move game locations in Steam. It uses Steam’s own system and means you can add games wherever you want. This is a better solution for changing a games folder that doesn’t require you to uninstall and rediscover games from within Steam.
- Select the Steam menu at the top and select Settings.
- Select Downloads and Steam Library Folders from the center.
- Select Add Library Folder and point it to your new games location.
- Name your folder and select it to add it to your Games Library.
Once you have multiple games folders you can move games between them. If you have added an extra drive to fit more games, you can add your new folder to the new drive and move games between them.
- Select the game, right click and select Properties.
- Select Local Files and Move Install Folder.
- Select your new games folder and select Move Folder.
This process retains all Steam links for the move and won’t interfere with save games or any other settings.
Extend a partition over multiple disks in Windows 10
I ended up doing it a third way. I added a drive to my system and rather than moving games, I had Windows 10 extend the volume to include the existing games drive and the new one. Both Windows and Steam sees a single partition but it is spanned over two drives. You can do this multiple times and is a straightforward way to manage disk space.
- Add your new drive to your computer and have Windows format it.
- Select any drive in Windows Explorer, right click and select Manage.
- Select Disk Management from the left of the new window.
- Convert your games disks from Basic to Dynamic by right clicking and selecting Convert to Dynamic Disk.
- Select your original games disk, right click and select Extend.
- Select the new disk in the new window and select Add.
- Enter a size of your new partition on the right and select Next.
- Select Finish to commit your changes.
I find this a much more elegant way to manage games in Steam. You can theoretically add more disks when you fill them up and expand the partition as far as you like!