So I installed Steam + a few games onto a USB hard drive easily enough, and so far everything seems to work fine.

But I've read mixed opinions online, many say that it is a bad idea to do such a thing.

Most of the games I play are quite old (mainly Unreal Tournament games) so the speed at which my games run isn't an issue.

But is there a chance something could 'mess up' further down the line and I'll be back to square one?


2 Answers 2


Consider the following: The games will load much slower but it will be portable. I for my self wouldn't install the games on a USB hard drive because steam has a cloud service so portability isn't a problem, the only thing that will happen is that your games load way slower so: No, i wouldn't recommend it.

  • The loading times are fine for my liking to be honest! as mentioned in my post most of the games I play are quite old... I mainly used an external hdd to save room on my hard drive, so not really too bothered about portability. Is the loading times the only real disadvantage?
    – RS86
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 19:25
  • I would say so yes. Besides of the fact that you could maybe lose your USB hard drive or something like that, as it isn't built into the PC, you do not have any downsides if you ignore the slower loading times :) Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 19:37
  • This is true. Note though that if there is enough free memory, then the OS can (will) use memory-mapped files (demand paging), so the load times are going to be slow the first time the game assets they are "touched," and then subsequent access to those files (e.g. when switching levels) can be very much quicker. The Standby Memory in Resmon or task manager includes this memory-mapping.
    – Yorik
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 15:17
  • Oh that's really interesting, didn't know that. Thank you Yorik! Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 17:42

I would seriously consider installing Steam itself onto an internal disk, and then creating a library folder on the external disk (and setting it as the default). This would avoid any weirdness by having the Steam app inaccessible when the external disk is not attached. Only the games on the disk become inaccessible when removed (which should be the bulk of the disk usage)

I have a tablet PC, which doesn't have enough storage on the local/internal 'disk' to be able to install (most) games on. Instead I have a steam library folder set up on a micro SD card, to which I install any games I play on it.

Sometimes I need to put a different SD card in there - the games on the SD card just become unavailable, but as soon as I put the steam one back in they appear as installed again.

This also happened when an SSD disk in my PC 'dissapeared' due to a BIOS glitch.

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