Steam games can take up a lot of storage space at times, especially if it’s a particularly large game file. Fortunately, gaming laptops and PCs can have more than one hard drive to allow for more storage and better performance.
Clogging up your OS with large game files can negatively affect your device’s performance and speed, and it can even stop Steam from opening. Therefore, it is advisable to store games on an external hard drive, as opposed to the OS. This prevents your disk space from getting too full.
Games are usually saved to the C: drive by default. We’ll go through how you can move your installed games from the default drive to an external hard drive.
Can you store Steam games on an external hard drive?
The answer is that yes, you can install Steam games on an external hard drive. If you want the absolutely fastest speed and best performance, you may want to move your games onto an internal drive.
However, there are definitely benefits to installing Steam on an external drive as opposed to an internal one – this will give you more space on your computer overall. If Steam takes forever to open on your laptop, it could be a storage issue. There are a few ways to store Steam games on an external hard drive.
We’ll go through some of the basic methods, including ways in which you can move games individually, or multiple games at once – though it’s not advised you move running games to an external drive whilst you’re in the midst of playing them.
Move Games Individually
First, we’ll go over a method for moving games to another drive individually. This may seem inefficient, but it’s one of the easiest methods and doesn’t you to download any additional apps, so although it may be a little slower, it’s probably worth it.
You only need the Steam app downloaded. You must also be logged in so you can access all your games.
You can download the Steam app by going to https://store.steampowered.com/about/. Scroll all the way down to find the install option, and click ‘install Steam’.
Steam inherently has a feature that allows you to change the location of a game file. This will allow you to move Steam games from its original drive to another drive. Ensure that your Steam app is up to date before you start migrating games to an external hard drive.
First, open up the Steam app and go to Steam>Settings. The Steam option is in the top left corner.
Next, click the ‘downloads’ tab. The downloads tab should already by selected by default, but if it isn’t – click it.
Then, click ‘Steam library folders’, which should open up the storage manager.
Click the plus icon, and click ‘new folder’ to add a new library folder.
When you add the new library folder, you must choose the external hard drive you wish to migrate the games to, and create the new folder on top of it. Give the folder a name of your choosing, and click ‘ok’ to continue.
Afterwards, click the new library folder, and click ‘select’ to choose the new folder.
Now, close all the additional windows and return to the default Steam app interface.
Click ‘library’ in the top row. Or, you can hover over the ‘library’ option, which will cause a list of options to appear. Click ‘home’.
This will open up a page, which showcases all your purchased games.
After you’ve opened the library, find the game you wish to migrate. Right-click on it and click ‘properties’.
Another window should now appear.
Click the ‘local files’ tab, and click the ‘move install folder’ option.
Ensure that you have created another Steam library folder on an external hard drive before attempting this step. If you only have a library folder on one hard drive, the ‘move install folder’ option will not be available.
You can only move games to another Steam library folder, so the folder must be on the desired hard drive.
After clicking ‘move install folder’, select the library folder you wish to move the game to, and click ‘move folder’ to finalise the process.
After you’ve finished doing this for one game, you can then repeat this whole process for other games that you wish to move. As stated it will take a while for you to move all the games over in your Steam client, but often it’s worth the additional time and effort if you’ve only got a few games to move. More than this, and there’s another way you can move games to their new Steam library.
Move Multiple Games At Once
Another method for moving Steam games to an external drive is by copy and pasting all your Steam files into another hard drive using file explorer. This will move all your games onto another hard drive.
You can move multiple game files by literally moving game folders from one drive to another in file explorer. The process is quite simple to do.
Ensure that you have another hard drive available on file explorer. You can check this by opening file explorer, and clicking ‘This PC’ in the left side tab.
You can view all your hard drives here. There should be more than one location shown.
First, open file explorer and find Steam folder, where all your Steam games are located. Usually, the Steam folder will be located in This PC>Windows (C:)>Program Files (x86)>Steam.
Once you’ve located your Steam folder, copy and paste it into the other hard drive. You can do this by selecting the Steam folder, and pressing ‘Ctrl+C‘ to copy it. Then, move to the other hard drive, and press ‘Ctrl+V‘ to paste it.
Alternatively, you can select your Steam folder and right-click on it. Then, click ‘copy’ or the pages icon for Windows 11.
Then, move to the other hard drive, right click on an empty space, and click ‘paste’ or the clipboard icon for Windows 11.
After pasting the Steam folder, rename the original folder and leave it in the initial hard drive as a backup if you so wish. You can also delete it by selecting the original Steam folder, and pressing the ‘delete’ key.
Now, you can open Steam.exe from the new hard drive, and make a new shortcut for Steam.
Run all your Steam games to ensure that they still work properly whilst in the new hard drive. Do this test before deleting the original Steam folder. Then, you can go ahead and download games onto your external drive.
In conclusion, there are several ways to move Steam games from one drive to another. Some of these methods require downloading additional apps, which can be quite tiresome or complicated. However, there are some methods that require no such thing and are much easier to execute. We’ve focused on the latter to make the process as simple as possible.
You can choose to move Steam games to an external hard drive one at a time, or move all of your games in one sitting. These methods only require you to have the Steam app, or the file explorer app (which should already be downloaded by default in Windows).