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Steamapps on multiple partitions - the easy way!

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#1
So, yesterday I was fed up with my SSD being filled to the brink and I went searching. I found this page about symbolic links that looked just too easy to be true, but I gave it a go anyway, and it works! :rockout:

My goal was to move non-frequently used games to another HDD, while keeping frequently used games on my SSD for fast loading times.

Basically, this is my way of moving Steam games as done under [Windows 7]:

- Go to your steamapps/common folder and cut the game folder(s) you would like to move.
- Paste the folder(s) where you would like to have them. (ie: E:\games\)
- Make a symbolic link as follows: Click here for more info

Run cmd.exe as Administrator. Click here to see how.
On the command prompt, type:
PHP:
MKLINK /D "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\<foldername>" "E:\games\<foldername>"
Where <foldername> is the name of the folder you moved.
You should adjust the source and target directories to those used on your system.
The "/D" parameter is used to make a directory link, instead of the default file link.
Use double quotes around the directory names. This eliminates any problems with spaces and such.

Then launch your Steam game as normal!

Possible problems:
Haven't tried, but you may run into problems installing new games, when Steam calculates the required space and your disk is so full the game won't fit on it.

Also, I haven't moved the .ncf files in the "steamapps" folder. You should be able to do that too, and make a symbolic file link without using the "/D" parameter. Feedback is welcome!

Last, I still want to try the following to try if we can install a game almost directly to the alternate partition:
- Start Steam and select "Install game" for a game, then immediately pause the download.
- Move the folder and make the link like described above.
- Resume download
Again, feedback is welcome!

According to Microsoft Technet, the MKLINK command also works on Windows Vista and Server 2008. I have not tried this, so once again, feedback is welcome!

Tested this and it's working under win 7 (and even simpler!):
Im using this little nice app: http://www.traynier.com/software/steammover, for moving games to/from drives, does what ur doing just the really easy way.
 
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#2
any opinions on ntfs junctions vs this ?
 
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#3
any opinions on ntfs junctions vs this ?
I don't know the technical differences, so anyone who can shed a light there is highly welcomed to do so :)
 
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#4
How very interesting.

Subbing on this topic to learn something new today.
 
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#5
I'm not sue why you are doing this? Is it because you only wish to move away some of the steam games but leave the rest on your OS drive? If you want to move all of them, why not install steam on the alternate drive?

I like the approach if it's just for temporary movement/archiving of non used games.
 
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#6
I'm not sue why you are doing this? Is it because you only wish to move away some of the steam games but leave the rest on your OS drive? If you want to move all of them, why not install steam on the alternate drive?

I like the approach if it's just for temporary movement/archiving of non used games.
Exactly that.

I want to have the games I play alot on my SSD for fast loading, and other games on another harddisk.

You could archive those other games, but that would mean reinstalling those games when you want to use them. This way, I simply moved 40-50GB worth of games from my SSD to my HDD, and I could still play them, while Portal 2 for instance is still on the SSD because it rocks :D
 
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#7
Exactly that.

I want to have the games I play alot on my SSD for fast loading, and other games on another harddisk.

You could archive those other games, but that would mean reinstalling those games when you want to use them. This way, I simply moved 40-50GB worth of games from my SSD to my HDD, and I could still play them, while Portal 2 for instance is still on the SSD because it rocks :D
Thanks!:toast:
 

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#8
That's a great tip for moving the Steam folder, thrackan. :toast:

Another way to do this, is to copy the Steam folder to the other drive as described below. This has the advantage that the complete Steam folder remains in one place, without the potential for broken links if something happens to either drive. It's also dead easy to make a backup of your Steam installation to another drive using a simple copy operation. This is really important if you have a large Steam installation. Mine is about 270GB and I don't ever fancy redownloading that lot again! :eek:

- Make sure Steam is not running
- Copy (don't cut) the Steam folder to the new drive and rename it (just add a random character to the name, it doesn't matter)
- Uninstall Steam from Programs and Features (or Add/Remove for those still on XP)
- Download the installer from www.steampowered.com and install Steam to your preferred drive. Be sure to give the destination folder the exact same name and location as the original one before you renamed it
- When installation is complete and you have logged in, quit Steam
- Delete the newly created Steam folder, but make sure it goes in the Recycle Bin, in case you need to restore it if something goes wrong. Alternatively, just move it to another folder
- Rename the original Steam folder back to its original name
- Delete clientregistry.blob within it
- Run Steam - that's it!

Having deleted clientregistry.blob forces Steam to update and reinitialise itself and register the software installed, properly into the Library. Crucially, it also makes all the correct Windows registry entries, to prevent odd problems down the line.

And there you have it, the optimum way to move Steam!

EDIT: Just seen after I posted, that you want some games on the fast SSD and others on a regular drive. I can see why, but just make sure you have a backup of everything. That's especially true if you have a huge Steam install like mine.
 
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#9
That's a great tip for moving the Steam folder, thrackan. :toast:

Another way to do this, is to copy the Steam folder to the other drive as described below. This has the advantage that the complete Steam folder remains in one place, without the potential for broken links if something happens to either drive. It's also dead easy to make a backup of your Steam installation to another drive using a simple copy operation. This is really important if you have a large Steam installation. Mine is about 270GB and I don't ever fancy redownloading that lot again! :eek:

- Make sure Steam is not running
- Copy (don't cut) the Steam folder to the new drive and rename it (just add a random character to the name, it doesn't matter)
- Uninstall Steam from Programs and Features (or Add/Remove for those still on XP)
- Download the installer from www.steampowered.com and install Steam to your preferred drive. Be sure to give the destination folder the exact same name and location as the original one before you renamed it
- When installation is complete and you have logged in, quit Steam
- Delete the newly created Steam folder, but make sure it goes in the Recycle Bin, in case you need to restore it if something goes wrong. Alternatively, just move it to another folder
- Rename the original Steam folder back to its original name
- Delete clientregistry.blob within it
- Run Steam - that's it!

Having deleted clientregistry.blob forces Steam to update and reinitialise itself and register the software installed, properly into the Library. Crucially, it also makes all the correct Windows registry entries, to prevent odd problems down the line.

And there you have it, the optimum way to move Steam!

EDIT: Just seen after I posted, that you want some games on the fast SSD and others on a regular drive. I can see why, but just make sure you have a backup of everything. That's especially true if you have a huge Steam install like mine.
Nice one :) Steam also has a built-in option to archive your installed game data, which works great if, for example, you want to format the disk you have Steam on :) It's my preferred method when reinstalling Windows.

But yeah, this is explicitly to use more than one partition/disk for your Steamapps. I've been pondering on this problem before, and I didn't think the solution would be this easy really:eek:
 

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#10
Nice one :) Steam also has a built-in option to archive your installed game data, which works great if, for example, you want to format the disk you have Steam on :) It's my preferred method when reinstalling Windows.

But yeah, this is explicitly to use more than one partition/disk for your Steamapps. I've been pondering on this problem before, and I didn't think the solution would be this easy really:eek:
Oh yeah, that's a very handy function, say you want to install Steam on another PC and perhaps only have one or two games installed on it. However, doing this for all your games, would duplicate* the amount of space they take and take ages to do.

The way I described, saves all that copying and just makes the new Steam install use the data as it is.

*Making a regular backup, of course duplicates that data anyway. :p But it is somewhat quicker, as it doesn't compress it down to an archive.

BTW I use the free Karen's Replicator to backup my data. I very simply have a partition on a drive other than my system drive with all my data on it. I simply installed Steam into this partition and do a mirror copy of every file in that partition using KR to another partition on yet another drive, every night. Yes, I have three drives in my PC: system, data and it's backup. :pimp:

Get KR here if you'd like to use it: www.karenware.com/powertools/ptreplicator.asp
 
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#11
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#13
I've been using symbolic links for a few months. They make my SSD happy.
You should also move your downloads folder to another drive (if you use it alot). I've also got the "My x" folders on my storage drive.
 
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#15
This app uses the "/J" parameter and thus makes junctions.
Can someone please describe the difference between junctions and symbolic links for me.
 

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#16
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#18
So according to this page, the difference is as follows:

A short cut is basically a file that points to another file. It is an antiquated, pointing system from the Windows 95 era. Shortcuts not only use up space on your hard drive, they linger around after the item they are pointing to has been deleted and may break if the destination is renamed or moved.

A symbolic link is like a short cut but instead of being saved as a file, they are registered to the file system. This means they do not use hard disk space but programs recognise and can read where the link is pointing to. A symbolic link can point to any file or folder either locally on the computer and over a network using a SMB path.

A file hard link and the directory junction are a little different. It not only points to the item but duplicates it as a copy without taking up the extra hard disk space required by a clone. If you have a hard link pointing to a file then delete the original file, the hard link will still retain a copy of the clone. One limitation of the file hard link is that the link can only be made on the same file partition as the file.

Finally a junction is a hard link for directories. To me they are the most useful and unlike their file hard links counterparts you can create junctions on different partitions. Again a junction is stored on the file system where it does not take up additional space and is treated by the operating system and programs as a local folder.

Windows Vista/7 uses the command line program called mklink to create these symbolic links. It has 3 arguments and then requires both a link name and target.

mklink /D /H /J [LINK NAME] [TARGET]

There are 4 modes for mklink and they all counteract each other meaning you can only use one argument or none at all.

No arguments creates file symbolic link which is like a shortcut that is registered on the file system instead of stored in a file.

/D creates a directory symbolic link which is like a shortcut that is registered on the file system instead of stored in a file.

/H creates what Windows refers to as a hard file link. A hard file link is used where you need multiple copies of a file but wish to save space by keeping only one physical copy on disk.

/J creates a Windows Junction which is a directory hard link. If you need duplicate copies of a directory but don’t wish to use up the extra hard drive space you can create a junction. Though be careful as any changes you make to a file or folder in one of the junction will affect all the others.
So by using "/J" you are making a directory hard link, which is treated as a "real" folder and not as a link. This might be the safer option here.

The only thing I wonder is what happens in the following scenario:

- Create a /J directory hard link from dir A to B
- Delete dir A (the original dir)

According to the "hard link" functionality described in above quote, dir B should then retain a cloned copy of dir A?
 

qubit

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#20
/sub
 
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#21
Hmm. This is interesting. I don't have many steam games, but i do have many bloated folders like my documents, pictures, and some non-steam games. If i were to copy these to a backup drive then make a symbolic link, i would still be able to view the files through windows explorer as if they were on the os (c) drive? would all the names work as normal? If i wanted to undo the changes, whould i have to go through any special steps, or could i just copy the files back?

Thx
 
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#22
Hmm. This is interesting. I don't have many steam games, but i do have many bloated folders like my documents, pictures, and some non-steam games. If i were to copy these to a backup drive then make a symbolic link, i would still be able to view the files through windows explorer as if they were on the os (c) drive? would all the names work as normal? If i wanted to undo the changes, whould i have to go through any special steps, or could i just copy the files back?

Thx
built into windows

 
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#23
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#25
Synctoy is what i use for backups. It's quite a nice utility, written by microsoft.



Nice. Thank you, i never noticed that. I assume it should work for games too? so i can copy over all the games i installed in "program Files" without thinking?
mklink will work for that though

another thing i do with it SUPER USEFUL:
make symbolic links for all your video game save folders, on a separate / networked drive. for me this allows me to pick up a game on any of my pcs and have it load from where i left off on another. they all share the same saved game folder.

it also makes it so your saved games are always saved if your system drive crashes. obviously you may want to run a backup etc, but for me more often than not windows fails, and i hate searching the drive for save games.

ok, i read this on the steammover page:
To those that have asked, I have tried using mklink to create hardlinks, but they do not work to link to another drive
but using mklink /d , i create links to other drives, and networked drives, no problem. so???
 
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