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Can I uninstall purchased games from my computer and then later download them through Steam without having to re-purchase if I'd like to?

I'm running short on space on my laptop, looking to free up some space and wanted to be sure that I can safely re-download anything at a later time similar to how you can with the Xbox Live marketplace.

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up vote 36 down vote accepted

Yes, games linked to your Steam account can be installed / uninstalled at will.

There are some rare exceptions where a game has additional DRM that limits the number of times you can install - but this should always be noted on the game's store page (the first example I've found is Dead Space 2, check the wall of capitalised text carefully to see what I mean) and there is often a way to "reclaim" those installs before you uninstall the game. So check the Store page for each game before you uninstall if this is a concern.


When you want to reinstall:
On your game list, if you switch to the "All Games" view you will find all the games you have linked to your account. Those that are not currently installed will be greyed out, and from here you can select for them to be downloaded and installed.

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You could also back the downloaded content up to an external HD or DVDR before deletion to avoid re-downloading. –  e100 May 27 '11 at 12:11
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Yep, use the Steam backup app to make your backups, as it'll compress them and stuff, and allow splitting over volumes. –  DavidYell May 27 '11 at 14:58
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When I bought a new PC I tried that method to move games across but it was slower than re-downloading. –  Ben Jackson May 27 '11 at 17:12
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@Bem, you actually can just transfer the entire steamapps folder from steam across the network, and into the new steam installation folder. The first time you try to play each game it will take a few seconds to verify that everything is there and download anything that could be missing. –  AttackingHobo May 27 '11 at 18:24
    
care to write a blog post about Steam and some of the pro and cons of having your games in the cloud? (points at PS3 Network :P) –  Ivo Flipse May 30 '11 at 7:42
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