How to back up your Steam games

It's easier to keep a local back up than downloading your Steam games again—especially for the 50GB monsters.

The common wisdom for PC backups is you need three copies of your files: the active copy on your hard drive, a local backup, and a remote backup. When it comes to games, the rules are no different.

If you're a Steam user, Valve takes care of the remote backup portion since you can re-download purchased games from Steam at any time. But it also pays to make a regular local backup of your game files—especially since game downloads can be utterly massive.

To be clear, this is about backing up the actual game, not your game progress. If you want to make sure Geralt of Rivia doesn't have to start over at White Orchard, check out our earlier tutorial on backing up your PC game saves. (Many Steam games automatically back up your saves using Valve's Steam Cloud service, but not all of them.)

Now let's get down to the business of backing up your game files. First, launch Steam from the Start menu and select Library

steambackupgamefiles1 Ian Paul/IDG

Back-up your Steam games from the Library.

To back-up your games from your local Steam library, right-click any one of the games downloaded to your machine. From the context menu that appears, select Backup Game Files...

steambackupgamefiles Ian Paul/IDG

A smaller window appears, listing all the games downloaded to your machine. Check the box next to the titles you want to backup; as you select games, the disk space required will be displayed at the bottom of the window.

Once you're ready to start backing up, click Next. The following screen displays where the games will be backed up. By default, the location is usually C:/programs files (x86)\steam\Backups. If you want to change that click Browse... and choose the folder you want or create a new one.

Click Next again.

Now you'll be asked to name your backup files--a name is automatically generated for you based on the games your backing up. Below that are two storage compression sizes. You can either store your files as though you were stashing them on a CD or DVD. Choose the version you want and click Next.

TIP: If you plan on backing up all of your games, Valve recommends adapting the method described in the Moving a Steam Installation and Games support document.

Now your backup will start.

Don't worry about the fact that Steam is smooshing all your games together in one big backup. Steam will sort all that out for you when you restore them by opening the desktop program and going to Steam > Backup and Restore games... Valve also has a brief support document online for reference about using Steam's backups feature and how to restore your games.

If you're looking for more expert Steam tips, check out our tutorial on 15 obscure Steam features that can power up your PC gaming.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Steam

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?