Did you know you can play Steam games from an external hard drive without transferring them to a local hard drive?If you didn't know, this feature can save you hours of transfer time that could be spent playing games.
Whether you're taking your games to a friend's house or using an external drive to store your games outside of your system's hard drive, we can help you play Steam games directly from your external drive.
How to find Steam Storage Manager
To play games from an external hard drive, you first need to open the Steam Storage Manager.Using Windows File Explorer to manage your games can quickly become confusing.However, if you know how to use the Steam Storage Manager, you can bypass File Explorer and manage your games directly on Steam.
To access the Storage Manager, open Steam and click Steam > Settings > Storage in the upper left corner.
How to add a Steam library folder to an external hard drive
Once you've found your storage manager, plug in your external hard drive and use the + button next to the Steam drive on the far right to add it as a Steam library folder.
Make a note of the drive letter of your external hard drive and select it when adding a new Steam library folder.After clicking "Add", the system will automatically create a \SteamLibrary folder, which contains the necessary subfolders for Steam to read.
If you don't want to put the folder at the outermost level, you can click "Let me choose another location".Select your external hard drive and click where you want it to go.
After adding the Steam library folder to the external hard drive, you can install Steam games directly on the external hard drive.However, we only recommend doing this if the game doesn't already exist on the internal hard drive, as existing files will interfere with the installation.If the game already exists on the internal hard drive, learn how to move it to an external hard drive below.
How to move Steam games to an external hard drive
Moving Steam games to an external hard drive is a great way to free up space on your local hard drive.
Since your external hard drive is now recognized by Steam as your game library folder, you can easily move your games using Storage Manager.
Click on the local drive where the game is stored, and on the right you can check the game you want to move to the external drive.
Once you've selected at least one game, the Move and Uninstall buttons will become bright and clickable.Click "Move" and select the external hard drive you just added.
How to copy Steam games to an external hard drive
Moving games to an external hard drive is great, but the games will disappear from the local hard drive.If you just want to make a copy of your games on an external hard drive so you can take your Steam games with you, unfortunately, the Steam Storage Manager doesn't have this feature yet.
However, this is not difficult to achieve.If your external hard drive has already been added, then our external hard drive already has the necessary folders that Steam can read, and you just need to manually copy the games the old-fashioned way.
In the Steam Storage Manager, select your local Steam hard drive, click the button with three dots to the right of the progress bar, and then click Browse for Folder.
This should open the \steamapps folder and then you can proceed to open the \common folder.Open the same folder on the external hard drive to paste later.
The \common folder is where games are stored.Just select and copy the games and paste them into the same \common folder on your external hard drive.
However, when adding a hard drive to a new computer, copying games instead of moving them won't immediately show up on Steam.There are additional steps required to get these games to show up, which we'll walk you through in the next section.
How to play Steam games from an external hard drive
Storing your games on an external hard drive is great, but what's even better is that you can play Steam games directly from the external hard drive without having to transfer them to a local hard drive.Here's how to play Steam games that have just been transferred to an external hard drive.
Open the Steam Storage Manager and follow the steps above to add the external hard drive to the target computer.Once added, you'll see the games you moved to the external hard drive using Steam Storage Manager.You can play these games immediately, just as if they were on your local hard drive.
Copying and pasting Steam games on an external hard drive requires verification.To do this, just click "Install" on Steam to paste the game on your external hard drive, make sure the external hard drive is selected and it will go through the verification process.
That's it, you can play Steam games on any system as long as the hard drive is still there.We recommend plugging the external hard drive into a USB 3.0 or higher slot to ensure the drive is up to the task.Note that some games may take longer to load because read and write speeds depend on the port you plug it into and the speed of the external hard drive.
Take your Steam game library with you
With Steam Storage Manager, you can take your Steam games with you and play them on any system that can handle them, without having to go through any complicated file verification steps like in the past.
While this feature still needs a lot of work, we're glad Valve is finally adding it to this two-decade-old platform.Let's hope it doesn't take another decade to improve the storage manager, though.
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