How To

How to Play Steam Games from an External HDD or SSD

You don’t simply have to play your Steam games on your present computer. Yes, the traditional method of transferring files is to sign into another PC and download them once more. This method is quite tiring and time-consuming, especially for some operating systems. We have learned an easier way to play steam games. With the use of an External HDD or SSD, steam games can be installed and played on any device at any time.

Installing Steam games on an external hard drive and using that disk to play them on another computer is entirely possible. Understanding How to Play Steam Games from an External SSD will come in handy when your device will not be made available for some circumstances. If your computer’s SSD runs out of storage, you can use a portable high-capacity HDD for a fantastic backup. You can easily download any kind of steam game and install it through any external HDD.

You can install Steam games on an external hard drive in two different ways. The games can first be installed straight on your external drive. The second option is to move the installed Steam games to your internal disk. However, it’s not as easy as just copying them literally.

We’ll put you through a detailed tutorial on how to play steam games from external hard disk drives or solid-state drives.

2 Methods on How to Play Steam Games from an External HDD or SSD

Method 1: Install Steam Games Directly on External Drive

Please bear in mind that the computer treats  your external SSD or HDD as a standard drive, similar to having a different Drive D partition. It will not be treated as something remote and different. You can easily modify and set the external drive as the default download location.

Step 1: Add Your External Drive to Steam

In the top left corner of the screen, select the Steam menu. Choose “Settings” and then “Downloads.” Then select “Steam Library Folders.” the external drive after that. Your computer’s external drives will be recognized. Choose the drive that you want to utilize.

Steam games on external SSD

download steam games to external hard drive

Interestingly, Steam stores drive letters and Steam library paths in individual steam clients rather than on your internet profiles. Your drive letter or volume label won’t be a concern. However, it would be ideal if you could modify your volume label so that you could quickly recognize your external Steam drive. It would also be fantastic if all of your systems’ Steam library URLs were the same. By navigating to File Explorer, right-clicking on the external drive, selecting properties, then changing the volume label in the General tab, you can change the drive letter or volume label.

Step 2: Set External Drive as Default Download Location

Make the chosen drive the download location by default. Steam will generate a Steam Library folder on the external device once it is finished. Leave the settings page.

Steam games on external hard drive

Step 3: Download Steam Games

Any game you choose from the store may now be downloaded and installed on an external disk by going to the store. You can peek inside your external Steam Library folder while the game is installing to see how the game directories are loaded with files.

use external hard drive for gaming

You can then play the games as usual after finishing every steps required. One thing to keep in mind is that, although slightly more expensive, an external SSD connected via USB 3.1 is advised to reduce lag and loading times.

Method 2: Transfer Existing Steam Games to an External Drive

If you already have installed Steam games in your internal hard drive and the space is about to be insufficient, you can make use of this method which is somehow more complex than the first one.

Step 1: Start by going through your internal drive’s Steam Installation folder. It would look something like, C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common

Step 2: Choose a game folder, copy it, and then paste it into the external drive’s common folder.

store steam games on external hard drive

Step 3: Next, navigate to the internal drive’s Steamapps folder. Copy the appmanifest number.acf file for the game. In the same folder on the external disk, paste it there.

It pays to be aware of the appropriate specified directory to copy, if you are not moving all of your games to the external drive. A certain number will appear in the file name of the manifest file. Visit the game’s page on the Steam store to find out. Copy the page URL by performing a right-click anywhere. Use a text editor like Notepad to paste the URL. You may identify a number from the URL by comparing it to the manifest files. The file should be copied and then pasted into the external drive’s steamapps folder.

use an external hard drive for steam games

Step 4:  Ensure that the Steam client is installed, before playing the transferred games on another computer or laptop, . Go to Steam and sign in.

Step 5: As you can see when you browse the library, the games would typically needs downloading and installation again. But as it would be a time-consuming operation, we no longer need to download the games again. Let’s go by connecting the external drive now.

Step 6: Connect the new PC to the external drive. Reopen Steam Settings. Create a new Steam Library, specify its default location to the folder on your external drive, and then add it.

play steam games from external hard drive

Step 7: For the games you chose to have stored externally, you can just press the Play button. Repeat the process for any additional devices you may have.


There you have it. That’s two methods to play steam games from an external HDD or SSD. Steam, is a fantastic gaming platform. To have these steam games played in many attributes makes it greater.