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Valve launched Steam in 2003 as both a game distributor and store that let gamers find and download games from indie developers. Thanks to the big sales the platform runs a few times a year, you can get some great games for less. Learn more about why Steam games take up so much space and the basics of uninstalling the titles you no longer want to play.
Why Do Steam Games Take Up So Much Space?
The reason Steam games take up so much space is that you downloaded both the app and the games. Steam is an app that gives you access to games from developers around the world. It helps you find games in a category you love and lets you read reviews to see what other gamers thought.
When you open the folder associated with the app, you’ll notice that it shows you the amount of space that each individual game takes up but not the total amount of space the app uses.
All the progress you made within those games will take up some space, too. You cannot delete the Steam app and still have access to your games. Deleting games that you no longer want to play is an easier way to free up some of the space that Steam uses.
How Can I Check the Total Space That Steam Games Take Up?
The Steam app saves a folder on your computer that contains all of your game files inside it. One issue some users had is that the folder does not show them the total number of space it uses. Steam doesn’t want you to know how much room it uses because this might make you delete the whole app.
To check the total space that Steam games take up, open the folder for the app and select “Settings”. Choose “Downloads” and then “Steam Library Folders”. This shows you a complete list of all your games and should show the amount of space they use next to each one. You can quickly add up the numbers to find the total.
You can check the Steam client you use, too. Go to “Library” and right-click on the game title to select “Properties”. Pick the “Local Files” tab from this screen, which will show you the disk usage of the game and where it saved on your device.
This method can take a little longer and still requires that you select each game to find the disk usage and then add them together.
Does Uninstalling Steam Games Free Up Space?
When you uninstall an app on your phone or computer, the device will delete both the app and any data that it saved. This frees up space in your memory, which may make the device run a little faster. Uninstalling games on Steam should do the same thing.
You can right-click on the game title and select “Delete Local Content”. This tells the device to delete both the game and its data. Some users found that the games remained on their hard drives, which is why you’ll want to look at how to uninstall Steam games and what to do if you can’t delete them.
If I Uninstall a Game, Do I Lose My Saves?
Before you go into an uninstall frenzy, make sure that you keep all of your saves. One reason Steam is so popular today is that it offers the Steam Cloud. Many of the games that you play will save your data in this cloud.
As long as you keep your username and password the same, you can log in and get your saves back. Not all games save progress in the Steam Cloud though. The only way to ensure that you don’t lose your saves or progress is with a good backup.
How Do You Back Up Steam Games?
Whether you buy full-price games or splurge only during the big sales, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on Steam. If you need to make more room on your PC or another device, you can delete the Steam app or just delete individual games. Before you delete or uninstall anything though, make sure you know how to back up your games.
Using an External Hard Drive
Using an external hard drive is a great way to back up your Steam Library and retain all of your games. You need to get the total size of your games as well as the app first to make sure your hard drive has enough space for them.
While hardcore gamers need 1 TB of storage or more, casual gamers can get by with much less. Plug the external into your PC and make sure the computer recognizes it.
You can then open the Steam app and go to your “Steam Library”. Open the “Steam Menu” and choose “Backup and Restore Games”. When you click on “Restore a Backup”, the app will find a previous backup you saved and allow you to open it and save it to your hard drive.
Using the “Current Backup” option allows you to back up all of your games. The app will ask you to select the box next to each title, which lets you choose which games you want to save or all titles. This is a good way to get rid of games you never play and those you don’t like.
Once you get through these steps, the app will let you pick where you want to back up the files. Choose the drive on your computer associated with your external. Depending on the size of your games and how much space is available on your hard drive, it can take a few minutes up to an hour.
How to Restore Your Games
What good is backing up your Steam games if you can’t restore them later? To restore one or more games, open the Steam app and your menu. Select “Backup and Restore Games”. Steam then asks where you saved those files.
You can choose an external hard drive or one folder on your PC. You can choose all the games or just a select few. Steam goes over the files to make sure that you bought the games. While it can take a while to validate the files, Steam will then restore them and move the games to the location you pick.
You can also back up your Steam games using a faster method. Look over the files and folders on your PC to find the location of your Steam files. Copy and paste the location, which is usually under the C drive in your Program Files.
You can also search C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\ on your computer. Copy all the files you find here and open your external hard drive. Paste the info into this drive, which will force it to automatically transfer over backup copies.
Using the Steam Cloud
Don’t forget that you can also use the Steam Cloud. Not all developers use the Steam Cloud though, which is why you need to back up your files to another drive. When you open a game or consider buying a game, look for the Steam Cloud icon on it.
This lets you know that it will automatically save your progress. Open the Steam app and select the “Cloud” tab at the top of the screen. Slide the toggle bar next to “Enable Steam Cloud Sync for Applications That Support It”. You can also choose Cloud sync from the main menu on each game to enable syncing on select games.
How Do I Uninstall Steam Games?
Steam game bundles include multiple games all for one low price. The chances are good that you might have a few games you bought and stopped playing because you didn’t like them. You can easily uninstall those games and any others that you no longer want.
Steam Client Uninstalling
Using the Steam client helps you get rid of games. Once you open the app, look for the tabs on the top of the page. Select “Library” then scroll through your games. Any games saved to your computer will have white text. If you see gray text, you know that it’s a game you own but did not save.
Choose the name of the game and right-click on the title. Select “Manage” and then “Uninstall”. To free up even more space, use the CTRL key to pick multiple games. Follow the same steps to uninstall them all at the same time.
Steam will issue a pop-up window that has two buttons. Clicking on the “Cancel” button will stop the process, but clicking on the “Uninstall” button will remove all the games from your library and hard drive. It usually just takes a few seconds to remove a small game. Larger games can take 5-10 minutes or longer.
You can uninstall Steam games on devices without using the Steam app. This method comes in handy if you have games on your hard drive but you deleted the app.
Open your “Control Panel” and go to “Uninstall a Program”. Click on the game title and choose “Uninstall”. You need to click on the “Uninstall” button in the window that pops up to tell the device to remove the entire game and any related data.
Why Can’t I Uninstall Steam Games?
There’s a small chance that uninstalling the game won’t work. You might find that it left behind some data. If you attempt to restore the game later, you may run into problems as Steam thinks you already have a copy of the game.
Open your “Device” and head to your “Game Folders”. Find the game folder and delete it and any files in it. When you restart your PC, you should see no traces of the game left behind.
You can permanently remove games from your Steam Library, too. Log into your account on the Steam Support website. Go to Games and Software to find the game you want to remove. Double click to open the game and choose “I want to permanently remove this game from my account”, which is under the “What problem are you having with this product?” section.
Steam will ask if you are sure and then permanently delete the game from your library. When you choose this option, you lose any progress in the game and any files you saved.
While Steam lets you try new games and play titles from the top developers, it also takes up a lot of valuable space. Use these tips to uninstall any games you don’t want and get rid of any data they leave behind. You can back up your progress and saves to restore those games later.