I have just bought a new computer and I have everything migrated over except for my Steam games.

I looked in Program Files/Steam/ and I found a folder full of the games I have downloaded, but I do not know if it is safe to just copy these folders from one computer to another (seeing as a lot of other applications will not work if you do this), or is there another recommended way?

I don't really feel like re-downloading all my games. I don't have the time nor bandwidth to download 20GB over a 1.5mbps connection.

Is it possible to contact Valve and get a disk with the games on it?

  • 17
    Note that this question (nor any of the current answers) doesn't mention anything about your personal game files, such as save games. These files may very well be located outside the Steam folder. For example, my Amnesia save games were in my profile folder and had to be migrated separately from the Steam games. Location of these files probably usually depends on the particular game.
    – Jeroen
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 21:30

10 Answers 10


I copy the files like you suggested all the time, and it is fine to do. Any files that do not match are usually re-downloaded from Steam, hence why it will still update a bit after a fresh copy. If you do not want all to redownload just the sounds and maps (which take up the most of the space), you can simply take the .gcf files for each game from Program Files/Steam/SteamApps.

Steam also has a "Backup" feature you can use. The files it creates can be moved from PC to PC and restored on any one.

  • 5
    Same works for WoW
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 2, 2009 at 4:54
  • 6
    Note that the gcf files contain all the data only for Valve games until Left 4 Dead (which falls into the "common" folder). All other games are in the common folder, and nothing else to do than copying them. There is a gcf file for each of other games, but they are very small, containing only basic information, no data.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Jun 12, 2010 at 14:48
  • Note that as of the 2013 Steam Steampipe content distribution system update, "Data files are no longer placed into GCFs but directly into the file system." Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 10:53

Here is the official answer from Valve on how to relocate where Steam games are installed. While the article is written as if you're moving from one directory to another on the same computer, the principles would be alike for moving downloaded content from one computer to another:


  • Unfortunately, no. When you perform a regular Steam install, it does such things as installing Steam update service, which allows Steam client to update itself even when run from limiter user accounts. Trying to move your games to another computer will not make Steam to reinstall the service there (other things might be missing as well). An immediate consequence of such move is that Steam refuses to start from non-administrative accounts (complaining about missing service), which is unacceptable. Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 20:20

An unofficial one, is to copy just your complete steam folder to another PC/HDD, without the need to reinstall steam.

I made it many times, and it works also on external HDD, that is easy if you want to show some games to your friends when you don't have your PC with you.

  • 17
    Yeah, they're should not be too much trouble, as the games are linked to your Steam ID, and not to your PC glares at EA.
    – Macha
    Commented Aug 2, 2009 at 22:32

From this forum thread:

Install Steam, then just copy the directories over onto the new computer, use the same filepaths etc...

And you will need to delete the clientregistry.blob file that you copied over from your old computer. Don't worry Steam will create a new one when you run it on your new computer.

Or re-download the games after installing Steam


Download Steam mover from the techmixer site:


You can check the info first.

It was written by a Steam user and was first posted on the Valve developers forum.

It enables easy transfer between separate folders and/or hard drives, and is free, and portable.

  • Noticed you may be a Mac user - Check steam dev forum for Steam_Mover
    – Lee Oleary
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 18:04

There are 2 options to do this.

Method 1

  1. Make a backup of Dota 2 via steam backup and restore function found under "steam" tab.
  2. Copy this back up to new computer.
  3. Install steam, login to your steam account. All games (Including Dota 2) will be visible in your game library. Install Dota 2 via back up you created in step 4. After install is complete, game "MAY" update to download any missing or out dated file.

Method 2

  1. Copy “common” folder and “appmanifest_570.acf” from PC 1 to a hard disk or USB. This stuff is located in steamapp folder. Most commonly the address will be C:\Program Files(x86)\Steam\steamapps\
  2. Now go to PC 2 and install steam.
  3. Once steam is installed in PC 2, close it completely and then paste these copied “common” folder and “appmanifest_570.acf” in steamapp folder in PC 2.
  4. Once this procedure is complete, you’ll be able to play Dota 2 on PC 2 as well.

Whatever method you choose, I suggest that you validate game’s cache before starting game. You can do it by going in Dota 2 properties >> Local Files tab >> Verify Integrity of Game Cache.

If you encounter any problem or error, this post contains complete procedure with images and a troubleshot guide as well.

  • As of April 2020, this method still works.
    – RedScourge
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 2:33

You should be safe to just copy the game files - but should worse come to worse, you can always just re-download as many times as you need/want to. (That's what I always do.)

  • 6
    I updated my question to include "I don't really feel like re-downloading all my games. I don't have the time nor bandwidth to download 20GB over a 1.5mbps connection."
    – joshhunt
    Commented Aug 2, 2009 at 0:03

Having read all the answers I think I had a unique situation where I had already started downloading the game. Attempts to copy the game still had steam thinking it should download.

So here are a list of steps I think includes the other answers and my situation. When taking through this, I will refer to stuff as source and target. Target being the pc or files that you want to copy the games to.

Open steam on the target PC.

First we should ensure that the game is not on the target PC due to a started download of it. Right click on the game / properties / Local Files, and if the button "Delete local game content" is enabled, then click it and do that process. The game should still list in your library, just greyed out now.

Close steam on the target PC. Ensure it is not open. (I don't think this is required, but just in case).

From the source pc, either over the network of with usb sticks etc. Copy the game folder from the source pc from a folder similar to this C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common to the similar location on the target pc.

Once the copy has been completed. Open steam on the target pc, right click on the game in your library and click install.

  • As this answer explains, if you started downloading it before copying the files (thinking it's needed to create the directory structure), just click "uninstall", and then "install" (no need to close). Steam discovers the game files only before download. There's no risk to click uninstall because it deletes files in Steam\SteamApps\downloading, while your files are safe in Steam\SteamApps\common. Commented Feb 13, 2021 at 22:55
  • If this doesn't work, and Steam starts to download the game anyway, stop the download, uninstall it, and then go to settings and clear the download cache before install it again. Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 1:39

Steam Local Network Game Transfers

Local network game transfers allow for Steam users to copy existing Steam game installation and update files from one PC to another over a local area network, without having to download and install from a Steam content server on the internet. This helps you stay below your ISP monthly transfer limits and can speed up installs or updates.


Active local network game transfers will be called out on the Download page:

This is how it looks from the recipient side:

How it works

Before you start to download or update a game on Steam, Steam will first check if there are other PCs running Steam on your LAN (local area network) that could transfer the needed game content to you directly.

If a potential PC is found, your client will ask the Steam backend server to contact that other PC’s Steam client and start a game file transfer if local network transfers are enabled and possible. If the game file transfer is accepted, your PC will try to download as much content as possible from the other PC. If the connection is lost or no more content is available, Steam will fall back to use public Steam content servers to download the remainder.



Any Steam client or Steam Deck can receive game content from another client on their LAN, but there are a few conditions that have to be met before the local transfer can take place.

  • Both Steam clients must be online and see each other directly on the same LAN (no downloads while either Steam client is in offline-mode)
  • Game File Transfer settings on both devices must allow a transfer (e.g. if both have "Friends only" set, they must be Steam friends)
  • Game content can only be transferred out if the transferring Steam client is idle, e.g. no downloads or games running.
  • The game needs to released to the public and playable by both Steam users (no preloads)
  • The game needs to be up-to-date on the PC sending the game files
  • Only a PC running in Steam desktop mode can host a network transfer. Steam Decks, PCs in Big Picture mode, and custom launchers can't transfer their files out over the local network.


  • Only file content part of the original game is transferred, no local save games or configuration files are sent. It also excludes Steam Workshop, Steam Cloud or Steam Shader files.

Just in case anyone else needs to move a Steam game from macOS to Windows:

Since the two versions of the same game could share up to 99% of data, this is doable. Still, you need to figure out what data can be shared... so:

  1. Locate the game files from your macOS Steam. I'll take Factorio as example. Factorio has a .app package on Mac, and it's located under ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/SteamApps/common/Factorio.
  2. Right click this factorio.app, choose Show package contents.
  3. Copy the Contents/data folder to your PC. I did this via an USB stick.
  4. On the PC, start installation of Factorio, then cancel it right away. You will now have am empty Factorio folder under your steamapps\common folder.
  5. Move the data folder from your USB stick into this Factorio folder.
  6. Start installation in Steam again. Now Steam will actually detects which files are already there -- big thumbs up for Valve!
  7. Steam will download any missing file for you. This is just several Mbs in my case.

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