Since Team Fortress 2 is available for free, many of my friends have downloaded the game. Can I copy the game on a digital media (USB stick or external hard drive) without creating a problem with Steam? This will save me almost 6GB download.

EDIT: I said that this transfer must be made between two different user accounts.

  • What!? It's free? Man I've been out of the loop... Jul 12, 2011 at 5:56
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    @Jeff Mercado: It's been free since the Uber update on June 23rd, so not too far out of the loop. Jul 12, 2011 at 6:32
  • @Jonathan: Yeah but growing up, I was always playing games and was usually the first to know of everything (amongst my friends). I've kinda stopped playing games as of late, or at least playing online and keeping up with the news. Nowadays, it's mostly not-too-recent single player games or modes for me. Jul 12, 2011 at 6:35
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    6GB download is only the download size if you have another HL2 game already installed, btw. Otherwise, it's an 11GB download.
    – user2974
    Jul 12, 2011 at 6:51
  • Seems almost duplicate of gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/13158/… (at least one of the solutions is exactly the same) Jul 13, 2011 at 5:23

2 Answers 2


The easy way to do it would be to use Steam's backup feature. Select "Steam" on the menu bar, then "Backup and Restore Games...". Choose "Backup currently installed games", after which you can pick TF2 then point the backup utility at your thumbdrive to save. (It tells me it will be 6999 MB, which suggests that it compresses the backup, which may also be why some said it takes longer than just copying.) To install on other computers—restore—go to the same menu item and just pick "Restore a previous backup"

You could also just copy the team fortress 2 *.gcf (and probably the source *.gcf, and maybe the half-life 2 *.gcf's...) files out of the \steamapps folder and put them on to the computer where you want to "install" the game.

Other online sources, such as the Valve Forums, have specified these files as being the core ones:

multiplayer ob binaries.gcf
orangebox media.gcf
source 2007 binaries 2.gcf
source 2007 binaries.gcf
source 2007 shared materials.gcf
source 2007 shared models.gcf
source 2007 shared sounds.gcf
source engine.gcf
source materials.gcf
source models.gcf
source sounds.gcf
team fortress 2 client content.gcf
team fortress 2 content.gcf
team fortress 2 materials.gcf

Total size: ~11.0 GB

The files in /steamapps/[username]/team fortress 2 are reported to be 'personal' stuff, screenshots (prior to a recent update), keybindings, crash reports, etc.

You could actually copy the entire /steamapps folder, or at least all the *.gcf and *.ncf's Unless you're hard-pressed for time, I'd just use the backup/restore, as it's all but guaranteed to work.

  • No, not half like 2 *.gcf, source 2007 shared *.gcf.
    – user2974
    Jul 12, 2011 at 5:58
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    But having said that, the backup and restore games option is likely the better one.
    – user2974
    Jul 12, 2011 at 6:48
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    @Powerlord I don't know, the backup method is a lot more user-friendly, but also a LOT slower and I'm not entirely sure if it works for diffetent accounts.
    – user56
    Jul 12, 2011 at 10:08
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    I've previously copied *.gcf files from my computer to a friend computer, and it works quite well. After copying the files, ask Steam to download and/or verify the local game cache, just to make sure nothing is missing. Jul 13, 2011 at 5:28
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    The backup method does work for different accounts, I've done it with both TF2 and Magicka, had no problems with it. Jul 13, 2011 at 8:47

...or you could completely download all the latest patches to your hard drive then go into the Steam Community Menu & choose "Go Offline". When you restart Steam in "offline" mode, copy the whole complete STEAM directory from c:/Program Files onto your flashdrive. It will be a huge file (depending on how many games you have) but it's a nice backup because the CD's generally get scratched and are unreadable after a while, and you can load it to as many computers as you want. I currently have it on 4 computers but only 1 at a time can actually go online. It works well though for offline play. Just remeber that to log on you can only do it from a single pc at a time.

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