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How to Move Games between Your Hard Disk and SSD

The enormous performance improvement makes solid state drives the obvious choice for installing modern video games. Running your gamesfrom an SSD will reduce loading times to a fraction of what they were before, but the relatively limited space on all but the most expensive disks makes it unlikely you’ll be able to store all of your games on one drive. As such, the best setup is to only keep games that you’re currently playing on your SSD, while relocating others to a mechanical hard drive. Unfortunately there’s no intuitive way to do this, and manually moving over your game directories presents many problems. If you don’t want to wait hours to re-download your games from scratch, you may want to try the following methods

#1. Steam

128px-Steam_icon_logo.svgSteam is the most popular digital distribution platform of all, and it makes moving game installation locations relatively easy. You’ll first need to log in to Steam and go to Settings- Download – Steam Library Folders and create a new library folder for storing your games. Your games are located in the steam/steamapps/common directory, so you can safely move your installations from this folder to the corresponding folder on your hard drive or SSD, provided you’ve already added a new library in Steam. When you run Steam again, it will automatically locate the new game directory and make a few minor changes without re-downloading everything.

#2. Origin

originMoving an Origin game is a very similar process to moving a game on Steam. With Origin closed, navigate the games directory (program files/origin games by default) and copy the game you want to move to another drive. Back in Origin, uninstall the current game, including any saved settings. Navigate to Settings-Advanced and change the location of your downloaded games to the drive and directory you copied your games over to. Origin will then appear to re-download all of the games from scratch, but it should instead detect the existing files, in which case your games should be reinstalled within a few minutes.

#3. GOG Galaxy

gog-galaxy-logo_256x256Thanks to a recent update, it is now possible to relocate GOG Galaxy games instead of having to re-download them. Simply click on the cog-wheel icon in the lower left of the window, and change the game installation directory to the new location you want to use. Close GOG Galaxy and move the game folder from the current one to the new one, and next time you open the client, it should automatically recognize the relocated installation. On a final note, it’s wise to keep the game and extras downloads directories on your mechanical hard drive, since the files contained in them are only temporary anyway.

#4. uPlay

Uplay-iconuPlay has long been criticised for its lack of features when compared to other platforms. As such, relocating a game without uPlay insisting on re-downloading it is relatively unintuitive. First, you’ll need to locate the current uPlay directory (program files/ubisoft by default) and move the contents over to the safe location (NOT the new one just yet). You’ll then need to open uPlay and change the default game installation to the new location. Once that’s done, re-download the game, and wait until it’s at least one percent complete. Close uPlay and copy over the game to the new directory, and the program should detect the files next time you open it.

#5. Other Games

GooglePlayGames_logoAlthough most video games work only with one of the above distribution platforms, even if you purchase them on DVD, a few work independently, meaning that they have their own entirely separate installation directories. Unfortunately, there’s no set rule for moving such games between hard disks or computers, and simply moving the folder location will often cause problems. The only thing you can try is to move the content manually and hope that the game still works. If it does not, you will likely need to reinstall it from the DVD or download it again. Fortunately, almost all downloaded games are only available through a distribution platform anyway.

Final Words

Despite the fact that most gaming rigs feature both solid state drives and mechanical hard drives for mass storage, there is still no quick and obvious way to move installations between the two. The same problem also applies if you’re reinstalling Windows and don’t want to have to re-download and reinstall all of your content. Needless to say, having to re-download everything can take many hours, if not days, even on very fast Internet connections. Fortunately, there is third-party software available, such as the free Steam Mover, for easily moving games between different drives and directories.

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1 Comment

  1. Chad Nobles
    May 4, 2018 at 8:37 am

    The vast majority of my gaming library is from Steam the rest is on Origin mostly some Sims and other older Maxis titles. Good to see the process is similar but do I need to change anything in respect to Mac vs PC? I run parallels and want to see if I can use this to switch my library over to the PC side where I get better graphics and performance w/o re-downloading everything. Got some work to do this weekend.

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