Check Part 1 for everything you ever wanted to know about partitions. Be careful, it’s heady stuff.
Now that I had the space, and before I cloned my Boot partition to the new SSD, I decided to move all of my Steam games from C: to the vast expanse of my D: drive. Thus did begin my initiation in to symbolic links and undocumented workarounds for moving games in the Steam client.
TL;DR Shamanic links, moving stuff and something that involves following instructions, or something…
Move all the things…
The first method I used is called symbolic links and is a nifty feature of windows that allows you move things without the system knowing that you’ve done so. In this instance, it allowed me to physically move my Steam library (Steam\steamapps\common) from C: to D: whilst Steam, and everything else, remained completely oblivious to this fact. Even Windows Explorer is fooled, seemingly seeing two copies: one on C: and one on D:
This feat of witchcraft was accomplished using a tool called SteamMover. It’s a fairly straight forward app that allows you to locate your existing Steam library, select games, and then move them to your new Steam library whilst setting up a symbolic link between the two locations. When you run it, it runs all the required commands in a CMD prompt and physically copies the files from A to B before it registers the symbolic link in Windows. Ta da!
Sanity Saver: I recommend not getting your new destination wrong or deciding that it it really should be somewhere else after you’ve already moved your games. Yes you could move them back, create a new library location and then transfer them back again, but that is, quite frankly, a bit of a ball ache. You can also get tools like Junction Link Magic and Link Shell Extension that will allow you to edit these links, but I strongly suggest that, for the sake of your sanity, you get right in the first place.
The ‘better’ method
As cool as symbolic links are, they are really rather overcomplicated and unnecessary, and they soon lose their appeal, especially if you get your library location wrong and need to edit them all (Yes, yes, I did exactly that, but in the name of science, and only so that you can learn from my mistakes. You owe me!). As it turns out, it is surprisingly easy to do the same thing in the Steam client, albeit one game at a time.
- Open the Steam client and select Steam > Settings
- Select Downloads
- Click Steam Library Folders under Content Libraries
- Click Add Library Folder and select the location of your new Steam library
Note: you can add many Steam libraries if you desire. More about that later.
- Exit back to the Steam client and then open Windows Explorer
- Navigate to your new Steam library folder and create a folder called steamapps
- In the steamapps folder create a folder called common
- Navigate to your old Steam library and in Steam\steamapps\common select the game folder that you wish to move and copy it.
- Navigate to your new Steam library and in paste the game folder in to the Steam\steamapps\common folder
- When it has finished copying, open the Steam client
- In the Steam client, select the game, right-click and select Delete Local Content. This will remove the game files from your old library.
- With the game still selected, click Install
- When the Install dialog appears, select your new Steam library as the installation location.
- Steam will appear to be getting ready to download the game again. DON’T PANIC!
- If all is well in the universe, Steam will first check the library, identify that the game is already installed, double-check that it is valid, and then end the installation. It should take no more than a few minutes. If it takes longer, it may be that Steam is actually downloading the game again. If this happens, cancel the download, restart the client and try again.
The ‘other’ method
There is, apparently, one other method to do this in bulk, but I have not tried it. You should give it a go. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe.
Before you start, back up your Steam library, or don’t. Your call. Also ensure that you have your Steam account name and password, and that your account is linked to your current email address so that you can reset your password if necessary. Of course, if you prefer to live life on the edge and like nothing more than to ‘stick it to the man’ then just ignore everything that I just said and good luck!
- Exit the Steam client.
- Browse to the Steam installation folder for the Steam installation you would like to move (C:\Program Files\Steam by default).
- Delete all of the files and folders except the SteamApps folder and Steam.exe
- Cut and paste the whole Steam folder to the new location, for example: D:\Games\Steam\
- Launch Steam and log into your account.
Steam will briefly update and then you will be logged into your account. For installed games, verify your game cache files and you will be ready to play. All future game content will be downloaded to the new folder (D:\Games\Steam\SteamApps\ in this example)
Give it a try and let us know if it works so that we can claim credit for the information that we blatantly plagiarised from someone else’s article on the internet.
Read part 3 for riveting expose in to the seedy world of cloning hard drives…