Steam has a built-in system for making a backup of its game files, so you don’t have to re-download a full game every time you uninstall it and want to play again later. But like a lot of Steam’s features, it hasn’t been updated in quite a while, and frankly it often manages to break the game restoration process anyway. On top of that, it’s slow, it’s clunky, and you can do better on your own.
Manually copying the files out of Steam’s game folder, then copying them back when you’re ready to play again, is much faster and more reliable. Steam’s caching system means that doing it yourself has no disadvantage versus the program’s integrated tool. If you’d like to back up your game files separately, especially to an external drive for archiving a large, 100GB+ collection or saving space on your primary system backup, here’s how to do it the easy way.
Step One: Find the Game Files
Find your standard Steam game installation folder. By default in Windows, this is located in:
C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam/steamapps/common
In macOS, open the Finder and choose Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar, entering this path:
And in Linux-based operating systems, it’s in the following your local user directory:
This folder is divided into sub-folders, one for each game installed under Steam’s master game list. Most of them share the same name as their respective game, but some use alternate titles or abbreviations—for example, Age of Empires II HD Edition is shortened to “Age2HD.”
Remember, if you’ve set a custom game folder in Steam, your games will be installed elsewhere.
Step Two: Back Up the Games
To back up the games in the Steam common folder, just copy and paste them into another folder.
That’s it. Really, it’s that simple. Ideally, you want…
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