How to uninstall and reinstall Steam without losing games

Steam is a widely-used platform for PC video games. The platform can be accessed through their own website, as well as their own application.

The Steam application is available for download on both Windows and Mac devices. Once installed, the client can easily be accessed from a desktop shortcut.

However, you may decide to change your mind about the Steam client and wish to uninstall it.

Or, due to some errors that you’re experiencing with the client, you may wish to uninstall and reinstall the program. Fortunately, such feats are quite easy to accomplish.

How to uninstall and reinstall Steam

We’ll explain the process by which you can uninstall and reinstall the Steam client. Before beginning the process, keep in mind that uninstalling Steam will also subsequently uninstall all your Steam games from your device.

Reinstalling Steam will not reverse this process. You’ll have to reinstall all your Steam games again after reinstalling the client. You won’t be able to access or play your games until you finish reinstalling them.

If you wish to avoid such hassle, there is a way to prevent your Steam games from being uninstalled when uninstalling the client.

Can you reinstall Steam without losing game files?

Yes, there is a way to prevent yourself from losing Steam games when uninstalling the Steam client.

This can save you the hassle of having to redownload all your Steam game files, which can take up quite a bit of time – especially for larger games.

Before uninstalling the client, make sure to copy all your game files and move them out of the Steam folder.

Your Steam game files should be located in This PC > Windows (C:) > Program Files (x86) > Steam > steamapps > common. Open the File Explorer, and navigate to your game files. Then, copy all the game files in the common folder and paste them somewhere outside of the Steam folder.

Alternatively, you could just copy the entire steamapps folder and move it outside of the Steam folder.

After reinstalling Steam, copy all the game files into the new Steam directory’s common folder. Or, if you copied the entire steamapps folder, replace the new steamapps folder with the one you copied. Once you’re done, start up the Steam client. Your games should already be installed.

How to backup Steam game files

Alternatively, you can also prevent yourself from losing games files by making backup files of your Steam games.

Steam has an in-built backup feature you can utilise to make backups of your games. After reinstalling Steam you can restore the backup files and have all your games installed once more. We’ll go through how you can restore backup files later.

Before attempting to backup your games, keep in mind that the backup feature is not compatible with all Steam games.

Examples of incompatible games include most MMOs, third-party titles, and free-to-plays. Compatible games usually consist of titles that fully download and update themselves through Steam.

In order to backup your game files, first open the Steam client. Then, click on the ‘library’ tab to go to your Steam library.

Find the game that you wish to backup and right-click on it. Select the ‘properties’ option to open the game’s settings.


Navigate to the ‘local files’ tab, and click the ‘backup game files’ option. A window should pop up listing all the Steam games you have currently installed.

Check the boxes next to the games you wish to backup. When you’re finished, click ‘next’ to move on.


Now, you must choose a folder for the backup files to go in. Click the ‘browse’ option to start choosing a folder.

Otherwise, by default, the files will end up in the Steam directory’s backup folder. After choosing a folder, click ‘next’.


Finally, name the backup file and choose a file size/format. Click ‘next’ to start creating the backups.


How to restore Steam backup files

After reinstalling Steam, you’ll have to restore your backup files to have your Steam games installed again. This can take a while, but it’s worth doing to get all of your old games back.

See: Steam Games Take Forever to Launch

To restore your backup files, open the Steam client. Then, click the ‘Steam’ option in the top left corner. Select ‘backup and restore games’.


A new window should pop up. Select the ‘restore a previous backup’ option, and click ‘next’.


Click ‘browse’ and navigate to your backup folder. Select the folder, and click ‘next’ to start the restoration process.

How to reinstall Steam

We’ll now go through the steps involved in uninstalling and reinstalling the Steam client.

Firstly, locate the Steam app. You can do so by searching for ‘steam’ in the Start Menu. The client should be the first result. Next, click the ‘uninstall’ option.


This should open up the Programs and Features window.

Alternatively, you can access this window by clicking on Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features. In the window, look for the Steam client.

You can search for the program in the search bar. Once you’ve found the program, select it and right-click on it. Then, click ‘uninstall’ to begin uninstalling the client.


When the Steam client has finished uninstalling, navigate to the Steam website to redownload the program. You can find the download link by going to

Related: Steam Screenshots – Guide

Once you’re on the site, click the ‘install Steam’ option to reinstall the Steam app. If you’re using a Mac product, click the small apple icon below ‘install Steam’ to download the Mac version.


When the Steam app has completed its installation, launch the program and log back into your Steam account.


In conclusion, uninstalling and reinstalling Steam is a fairly simple process, and it can be a great way to fix issues like the Steam service not working error. However, you should remember that uninstalling Steam will also uninstall all your Steam games.

To avoid having to manually reinstall your games, you should either backup your game files or move your steamapps folder prior to uninstalling Steam.

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I love reading, writing, drawing, and other creative pursuits. I wish to travel more and do extreme activities, such as bungee-jumping and skydiving. I'm a casual gamer with an affinity for narrative-driven games and unique art styles. I like watching a variety of different media, but I particularly enjoy animations and musicals. My favourite genre, for both books and visual media, is psychological-thriller.

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