New Steam beta lets you install games to other drives

Steam’s great—I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the best things about PC gaming. It’s not so great for gamers with solid-state drives, though. The client requires all games to be installed on the same drive, which poses problems for users with low-capacity SSDs and/or huge game libraries.

Or at least, the client used to have that requirement. As Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports, the latest Steam beta has a hidden user interface that lets you create new installation directories, even on other drives. You’re then free to install different titles to different drives—like, say, frequently played multiplayer shooters to your SSD and other, more casual titles to an auxiliary mechanical drive.

The instructions are pretty straightforward. Rock, Paper, Shotgun has documented them in full, complete with helpful screenshots. (The procedure was apparently uncovered by a fellow named RJacksonm1 over on Reddit, so props go to him, as well.)

To sum up, you’re supposed to join the Steam beta via the client’s settings, add -dev to the program shortcut, and then enter a command (install_folder_ui) into the beta client’s console. The command brings up a new window that lets you add installation folders to your heart’s content. A Choose install folder drop-down should appear next time you install a game. Disappointingly, RPS doesn’t say anything about moving games already installed—worst case, you can probably just use Steam’s backup feature to reinstall them to a new location.

Comments closed
    • ClickClick5
    • 7 years ago

    I have steam installed on an internal 2TB Green and have not had any complaints yet. I tried running a few of the games from RAM and posted the results in a forum thread here: [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=79246[/url<]

    • Forge
    • 7 years ago

    B***S***!!!!!

    Wow. It’s only taken years, but Steam finally figured it out. I’ve been using Steam Library Tool for months now to do the same thing, just using NTFS junctions, but it’s nice to see Valve catching on and integrating winfulness.

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    Dangit, Steam! I’m trying to wait to upgrade to a SSD >.<

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    I already have my Steam install on my mechanical drive and use a utility called SteamMover to do this if I want to put a game on my SSD. Nice to have an official method, though.

    [url<]http://www.traynier.com/software/steammover[/url<]

    • NeronetFi
    • 7 years ago

    Ever since I got an SSD I have just been using Steam Mover to move games from my HDD to my SSD. Normally I just move the current game I’m playing to the SSD then when I am done I move it back to the HDD.

    • Pax-UX
    • 7 years ago

    OMG about time!!! But will wait for it to go live.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    My steam drive has 450 GB of 1 TB used already (50% of my games are not installed). Creating links was getting annoying for optimising my SSD 256GB). THIS IS AWESOME!!!!

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    I never installed Steam on my system drive to begin with. Anyone who has this “problem” should learn to click “Next” a little slower and read a little, too.

      • random_task
      • 7 years ago

      What if you want to install some games on the SSD and some on a bigger HDD? Installing Steam on the HDD will only let you install games there, unless I’m mistaken?

        • xolf
        • 7 years ago

        Sort of – you can cheat with links, created with something like Junction Link Magic – [url<]http://www.rekenwonder.com/linkmagic.htm[/url<] Same way as I have WoW installed on my SSD, but the Screenshots folder is linked over to a hard drive. WoW doesn't see it any differently. With the Steam example, you'd install to the HDD as normal, then move that folder onto the SSD and create a link pointing from the original location on the HDD to the new one on the SSD. New option just makes it a lot less hassle. 🙂

      • Decelerate
      • 7 years ago

      Not everyone is fluent in the languages Steam offers yet knife well in MW3.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Not sure why you’re getting minused here, because that’s the smart thing to do.

      • designerfx
      • 7 years ago

      some people have more than one drive, fool. Once you set the drive you can’t modify it for any other games – it defaults to them.

      So try to understand an issue and not make nonsensical comments and think a little, too. I suppose that’s too much to ask.

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    You gotta hand it to the Steam guys. Augmented reality glasses. Shaking up the Linux world. Installing to another drive.

    What are they gonna think of next?

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Offline Mode for more than 60 minutes, for a small fee.

        • Arclight
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t get it. Offline/online should not be selected, it should be automatic. Whenever i open Steam it should be offline and it should TRY to connect only when i play a game and i select multiplayer, or if i want to browse the store. But if it fails to connect (cause maybe i just don’t have internet working at that time) it should remain offline and keep all my games working.

        The only obstacle in that are the new age games which need persistant connection to play single player, which is the most retarded thing ever brought to PC games.

    • holophrastic
    • 7 years ago

    Seriously, Tech Report reviewing games is one thing. But I don’t think a tiny non-gaming feature of a platform, in beta no less, is worthy of The Tech Report’s attention. There’s got to be something that doesn’t make the cut.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Now if MS could only figure out how to easily allow permanent changing the location of Program Files.

    • ColdMist
    • 7 years ago

    Hard links, via cmd:

    Ok, so you have a new SSD as your C drive, but your Documents are on the D drive.

    In Vista or Win7:

    1) Move the old dir to the new place.

    2) Open a dos window
    a) If you want to move it to a regular directory, open a regular dos prompt.
    b) If you want to move it to a directory locked down by Admin rights:
    click on the start icon, then type ‘cmd’ in the search box,
    but hit shift-ctrl-enter to launch it. This will launch it in admin mode.

    3) Type
    > mklink /D “new_path” “old_path”

    That’s it.

    (Old instructions from 2009)

      • Malphas
      • 7 years ago

      That’s a symlink not a hard link.

        • TheMonkeyKing
        • 7 years ago

        mklink [[/d] | [/h] | [/j]] <Link> <Target>

        Using the /h switch creates a hard link.

      • DrCR
      • 7 years ago

      Uh, you can hardlink to a separate drive with ntfs?

      (I’ve grown accustomed to working with *nix with inodes et al. Please forgive the ntfs ignorance.)

        • holophrastic
        • 7 years ago

        you can also subset, since dos 6 or earlier.

          • Forge
          • 7 years ago

          The DOS command is subst, as in SUBSTitute.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    it defeats the purpose of the ssd. i dont need longer loading times.

      • travbrad
      • 7 years ago

      It’s a nice feature for those with smaller capacity SSDs or tons of games though.

      I usually only have about 5 games installed at a time, so it hasn’t really been an issue on my 128GB SSD. If you had a 64/80GB SSD or wanted to have 15 games installed I could see this being a useful feature. I don’t know where they find the time to play 15 different games, but to each their own. 🙂

      There are some games that don’t really benefit from SSDs too. In World of Tanks or Mechwarrior Online for example, you have to wait for everyone to load before the game countdown starts. So you basically end up waiting for people with 4500rpm laptop drives to load before you can actually play.

        • Elsoze
        • 7 years ago

        This. I don’t need all ~150GB+ of my steamapps folder sitting on my SSD. Mostly because it can’t fit them all 😉

        • Forge
        • 7 years ago

        4200rpm. Some are even slower, but 4200rpm is a standard speed.

          • travbrad
          • 7 years ago

          Yeah I guess I was thinking of the old IDE/ATA laptop drives that were always 4500rpm. Either way a 4200/4500rpm drive is excruciatingly slow compared to a SSD.

            • CaptTomato
            • 7 years ago

            10000rpm are painfully slow compared to SSD……hahahaha

      • jrr
      • 7 years ago

      buy more games.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t care about longer loading times for bejeweled 3.

      • Laykun
      • 7 years ago

      The idea is to archive games you don’t use often and put games you use frequently on your SSD. I have about 500GB of steam games and I probably only use 50GB of them frequently, if that. I believe this will be the case for 99.9% of users.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      You realize that game load times are typically CPU-bound?

      I/O is only an issue if you running an older HDD and/or you are running a massively overclocked CPU.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        [citation needed]

          • travbrad
          • 7 years ago

          I have some citations, but I’m afraid Krogoth won’t be impressed by them:

          [url<]https://techreport.com/review/22794/western-digital-velociraptor-1tb-hard-drive/9[/url<] [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzFJybkSgVk[/url<] [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrfNLbMFghY[/url<]

        • Waco
        • 7 years ago

        Incorrect. Game loading times are very rarely CPU-bound unless you have a craptastic CPU.

        • Steele
        • 7 years ago

        I’m afraid I have to agree with the dissension and call baloney on this post. As someone who went from a regular drive to a SSD recently (well, 2 drives: one SSD, + one HDD), I can tell you for a fact that my load times for windows and games went down something like 80% when I upgraded. City of Heroes (RIP) now loads in moments instead of minutes, and each zone and instance loads much, much faster. Photoshop loads in about 5 seconds as opposed to 2 minutes. Windows 7? I used to turn my computer on, go take a leak, get some food, come back, and it would still be loading up. Now? It’s almost done loading before I can leave my room.

        I will say that some games are better than others. Skyrim, for instance. I keep that on my old HDD, and it still loads damn fast.

      • ET3D
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t care about having my games on the SSD, since I don’t play that often. However Steam runs at boot time, so it might as well be on the SSD.

    • Malphas
    • 7 years ago

    Like others, I’m already doing this with a symlink. I’ve tested having a few Steam games on the SSD before, and there’s not actually any noticeable difference in loading times or anything than there is having them on their own dedicated mechanical hard drive.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Not much of a surprise here.

      Game load times are typically limited by the CPU, unless you got a massively overclocked chip.

        • CaptTomato
        • 7 years ago

        And HDD…F1 2011 was taking 30secs to load on WD blue, but 9-10secs on Samsung spinpoint!!

          • Krogoth
          • 7 years ago

          There are expectations to the rule, but most games are still limited by CPUs in terms of load time.

          Remember that games are programs at heart. The CPU has to extract, compile all of the data into a usable format before throwing it onto your main memory and swap. The process only runs on one of your threads, so multi-core CPUs yield little or no benefits here. Clockspeed is king here.

            • CaptTomato
            • 7 years ago

            Hmmm, but doesn’t the typical game load twice as fast with SSD vs HDD?
            SSD often seem to be 3.5-5x as fast for other things, but game loading still takes it’s time, but I was still under the impression that there’s a 100% or so boost with SSD.

        • Malphas
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, it’s funny how it runs contradictory to everyone’s expectations though.

        • WaltC
        • 7 years ago

        The problem is, though, that even many motherboard IDE controllers are only 2%-7% cpu dependent, with by far most of the activity carried out by the controller independently of the cpu. We’re a long way away from those early days of IDE where loading a page/screen would stop everything else, including sound, in its tracks, until the loading was finished…;) In those days, the quicker the cpu the quicker the page/screen/scene load–single tasking, single threaded, etc.

        What I’ve done with Steam, though, is to install it to a 444GB RAID 0 games partition, because I rather like having all of my Steam stuff in one convenient location. But it’s no big thing, really, because even if you don’t have them all together in one location, you can simply have the desktop shortcut open up the game’s location without actually having to remember where your games might be…;)

        My only advice with Steam is: don’t install it to C:\ unless C:\ is all you have (which is poor file management policy, imo.) Even if you just have one large C:\ drive you should chop it into partitions–C:\ for boot; d:\Games 1; e:\Games 2, f:\Data, etc. That way if one partition crashes due to a write error, the others will stay up and you won’t lose everything. I have three physical drives spanning 1.5TB’s, and five separate partitions, including two RAID 0 partitions and separate Win7 & Win8 boot partitions.

    • vaultboy101
    • 7 years ago

    At long last… this has been needed for a long time but since this is Valve time we are talking about…

    Thanks Valve

    • willmore
    • 7 years ago

    I guess I can stop dragging folders around and making hard directory links. But, if I can’t have it do this for already installed stuff, it’s no of much use to me. Sure, I know I’ll play the hell out of Borderlands 2, but what do I do when I’m done with it and want to move it off the SSD?

    If there were a tab in the programs properties that allowed you to select which of the ‘program stores’ you wanted a game on and would move things about for you, I’d be *very* happy.

    Edit: How did I leave out the word ‘move’?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Once you’re done with a game you can always store it as a backup if you’d rather not download it again.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        That takes up as much disk space as a ‘live’ game, right? So, other than encapsulating it nicely, I’m not sure what benefit that gives? Am I missing something?

      • Zoomer
      • 7 years ago

      You could just delete and reinstall the game. Shrugs.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        I could, I guess, but that would waste a bit of bandwidth for no reason. Plus it’d take a while for larger games. 100MB/s to move or 2MB/s to redownload? Hmmm….

    • carburngood
    • 7 years ago

    Now can we PLEASE have scheduled downloads? Not everyone has uncapped peak downloads and this would be a killer feature for me. Currently using a work around but in built would just be awesome…

      • Laykun
      • 7 years ago

      You can always install a squid proxy on your machine and make steam use that proxy. Proxy’s can be configured to only allow traffic through at specific times.

    • Welch
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve just been using the MKLink command when moving over my Arma 2 install to an SSD. Right when I started doing this suddenly now they release that ability. Always seems like game companies are spying on me before they release features :O

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      Been using Symlinker for a year or so with Steam, Origin, and Blizzard games as needed without issue. It’s funny, but most games I play on Steam really don’t seem to need the SSD speedup, but that could always change- the one game I always have on the SSD is Battlefield 3. It needs help.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve been using “Steam Mover” to do the exact same thing without a problem for a while now. It’s good to see Valve support it officially now though.

      • Xenolith
      • 7 years ago

      Fan of Steam Mover. I didn’t know about symbolic links in Windows until Steam Mover came along. Steam Mover is basically a GUI for DOS commands. Steams version doesn’t look done yet… so will hold off for bit.

    • jstern
    • 7 years ago

    I used to have Steam on my SSD and then dragged it to an old 500 gigabyte hard drive. I was expecting slower load times, but it was exactly the same and maybe slightly faster
    Weird. GTA IV at least.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 7 years ago

    It’s about F’ing time.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 7 years ago

      I just upgraded my programs/games drive from a 1 TB Western Digital WD1001FALS to a [b<]3 TB[/b<] Seagate ST3000DM001 this past weekend to make more room for my Steam directory!

        • CaptTomato
        • 7 years ago

        Epic fail!!!!….?

    • Washer
    • 7 years ago

    Been a long time coming. This should have been in from day 1.

      • travbrad
      • 7 years ago

      On Day 1 you were lucky if a game would launch, let alone any other features.

      They’ve come a long way. 🙂

      • Johnny5
      • 7 years ago

      It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time.

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