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I've seen a lot of questions asking somewhat the reverse of this question, namely copying games from one PC to another to avoid downloading. My question is can I just remove my entire hard drive from my current PC and move it into the new PC and get Steam to recognize that all the games are already downloaded? I'm basically wondering if the way Steam knows which games are installed is tied to the account info in the cloud, or PC-specific information (like registry entries) or some combination.

The specific example: I have a PC with a C: drive and a Z: drive. 90% of my games are on the Z: drive. My new PC has just a C: drive, and I want to put the Z: drive into the computer and just get Steam to see everything there.

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    It should work the same as moving a folder from one pc to another, which is technically what you'll be doing but instead of doing it virtually, by copying the folder, you're doing it physically with the HDD itself. – Jonathan Drapeau Dec 18 '14 at 15:01
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If you have all your games in a new library on different HDD than it will work. After you install steam just add a new library and select the one on your another HDD. Steam will check the files and update them if necessary. However I didn't have any luck transferring games stored in my steam folder in program files. Moving or deleting ClientRegistry.blob didn't help then. So next time I would transfer all games from default location to a new library before reinstall so I can just copy the library over later.

  • This describes most accurately what I did. I added a new library, using the location on the transferred drive, which was a secondary location, as opposed to the default C: drive location, and it worked immediately. – Joe M Dec 29 '14 at 1:25
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Yes. I did it before: simply moved my "Steam disk" from machine A to machine B, then installed Steam on machine B, pointing it to the Steam disk location and voilà.

As an extra precaution, you can also delete the ClientRegistry.blob file to force Steam to scan the steamapps folder and find out what is installed, making sure all the games get found.

Some minor updates (to install the missing files that are not in the Steam library itself) and file integrity checks may occur when you run Steam for the first time.

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    Mainly updating to install the missing files that are not in the steam library itself. – Jonathan Drapeau Dec 18 '14 at 15:08
  • Thanks to both of you. I will attempt this in a few days (unleashing the new build is a Christmas day event :) and will report back. – Joe M Dec 18 '14 at 15:09
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    I would recommend deleting the ClientRegistry.blob file before you launch Steam on the new PC. This will force Steam to scan the steamapps folder to find out what is installed. It may not be needed, but it will make sure all the games get found. – Kexlox Dec 18 '14 at 15:56
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    Save games might not transfer for some games that don't use cloud storage and store in the user area, unless they are also copied. – Mufasa Dec 18 '14 at 19:08
  • You can also tell Steam what folder your Library is. This will also add any game the registry had added previous to the move. – Virusboy Dec 19 '14 at 21:44
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the way i found to do it with 100% success is to copy the steam folder to an external disk, then transfer to an already active disk on the new desktop. from there you will open the steam folder and inside you will find an application called "steam.exe" right click and hold, then drag to the desktop and select create shortcut. then just launch from there. the install for new games will default to wherever you copied the folder to, as well as completely eliminating having to reinstall steam, and risk having it wipe your data.

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