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Steam Games, new gaming rig, avoiding re-downloading everything?

MalVeauX

Senior member
Dec 19, 2008
618
149
116
Hey all,

After many, many years, I'm about to upgrade my steam box and it would be great to not re-download everything. I don't mind a little downloading of updates and stuff, synch with cloud, etc. But would definitely prefer to avoid a total re-download. I've tried looking this up and there just seems to be lots of information out there that isn't consistent. So figured I'd ask the community if anyone has done it recently.

My OS is on one drive. My steam library folder is on a separate drive from the OS. I will be migrating to an entirely new rig with new components, however I will keep the steam folder library drive so that I can keep all the steam games without re-downloading (I think). My current understanding is that if I just keep them on a separate drive and then tell the steam client after the upgrade where the library is it will recognize the games and I won't need to re-download them all. However, to take it a step farther, I'm curious about any other things I would need to know about, such as save games, configs, etc. Any obvious locations I should make a manual/physical copy of and restore after the reinstall?

Thanks!

Very best,
 

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
3,179
1,701
136
Good question, and one I had to deal with a while ago.

Yes: Keeping your steam library on its own drive will prevent you from having to redownload all your games again. You will have to install Steam itself again, and add your old library where the games are installed to your fresh Steam install.

Save Games: A bit trickier as game saves go where the dev wanted them to go. Many game saves end up in your "My Documents" folder, so go there and make sure you back-up that folder, then restore it on your new rig. Naturally if the game saves to its own subfolder where it is installed, then you don't have to do anything.
 

MalVeauX

Senior member
Dec 19, 2008
618
149
116
Thanks, I'll root around the different potential spots on the OS drive that saves might go to.

Very best,
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
78,923
11,848
126
You can copy your steam folder over to a new drive. the steam program is smart enough to figure everything out.

My installation of Half Life 2 is technically the original one.
 
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MalVeauX

Senior member
Dec 19, 2008
618
149
116
You can copy your steam folder over to a new drive. the steam program is smart enough to figure everything out.

My installation of Half Life 2 is technically the original one.
Cool thanks, I'm glad I have it on a separate drive, many years on that poor thing and I'd hate to re-install all that.

Very best,
 

CP5670

Diamond Member
Jun 24, 2004
4,855
229
106
Save and config files can be in about 20 different locations inside /Users/<username>/, or directly in the game folder for old games. I've just kept migrating the same Windows install and user account through many upgrades and have all my saves from the last 25 years.
 
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shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
78,923
11,848
126
Oh yeah I forgot about that part. Each game has a choice as to where they keep save files and many of them are under your user profile directory.
But thanks to cloud saving most of those are uploaded and downloaded constantly as well thanks to Steam, even if the game originally did not use cloud saving.
 
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gorobei

Diamond Member
Jan 7, 2007
3,185
328
126
if you want a cleaner system directory, you can backup most steam game installations thru the library options. it will make a self-installer/archive of your current files that you can then run and point to the new drive. steam will treat it as the native location. dont know how it treats save files and preferences stored on user folders.
 
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MalVeauX

Senior member
Dec 19, 2008
618
149
116
Update,

So I tried both ways. I did the official in-steam restore/backup option. Wow that took over like 15 hours for 350Gb of game installs. I also just copied the library files themselves (much faster of course). When I went to restore the games via steam in-game restore, it would not let go of the OS install drive no matter what I did (I even initiated a download to the library location on a separate drive and it still would not give it up and would only allow me to restore to the OS drive where Steam was installed, and not the new drive with the library defaulted there to a new directory). Otherwise, that would have worked. So then I gave up and just copied the library folders themselves over and restarted the steam client and it saw everything just fine, except for like 2~3 games that must have been installed elsewhere that I didn't realize. No biggie. But that worked well. But the library is now on the new 1TB NVMe SSD and the OS and Steam are on their own SSD and the machine no longer has any physical spinning discs without too much hassle and I didn't have to re-download 350Gb. Yay!

Very best,
 
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EXCellR8

Diamond Member
Sep 1, 2010
3,887
788
136
Yea it used to be kind of a pain but I've avoided re-downloading previous installs for years now. I also like that you can just move install folders at your leisure if you need to after the fact; no messing with the Windows registry.
 
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MalVeauX

Senior member
Dec 19, 2008
618
149
116
I think what I'll do now is simply backup each game that I care to backup via steam's client restore/backup feature, but individually and store them on my NAS for any recovery needs in the future and periodically update and refresh. While there's games I'll likely never play again, storage is cheap and the time to re-download would be insane (I do not have high speed internet, I live in the boonies).

Very best,
 
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