I have numerous cases of "disk write error" across many games in my Steam library. This seems to be a common enough problem, but the root causes and the solutions are varied.

In my specific case, I have Steam installed here:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam

My games are installed on a dedicated SSD here, which I have defined as the default location:


However, numerous games receive the "disk write error" after installation or randomly when updating. Over time, I have accumulated around 20 games that are simply unplayable even if I reinstall them.

I also noticed an "error 5" when launching a game recently.

My first steps were to troubleshoot the SSD containing the Steam games, but the SSD is perfectly fine with no errors.

How can I resolve these issues?

1 Answer 1


While there are several causes to this problem in general, there is one specific issue that can cause this when Steam is configured to have a primary library in a location other than its installed location.

Some games do not like being run from outside of the Steam installation folder, even if that location is the primary library folder.

In my case, I went to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam and deleted the steamapps folder. It was empty anyway, as all of my games were installed on the E: drive which is dedicated to my Steam library.

After this, I opened a command prompt as Administrator and navigated to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam I then ran this command:

mklink /d steamapps E:\steam\steamapps

This allows games to follow that link and see they are in the Steam installation directory even if they are not.

I then updated all my games that had disk write errors or that gave an error 5 when running, and they were able to update and run.

Note: if you follow these instructions, be very careful if you have any content in steamapps before deleting it. Migrating said content is beyond the scope of this answer, but there are plenty of resources that explain how to do it. If your Steam installation or library is in a different location, you will of course need to update that in the mklink command above.

  • is this problem due to "old games" and permissions?
    – Yorik
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 17:50
  • @Yorik nope, this was a mix of new and old games.
    – user69603
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 18:18

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