Moving those games to another hard disk without breaking them

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Windows Explorer (File Explorer) - two or more hard disks

Two or more hard disks or partitions on your computer may make you want to move games to the larger disk

How To Move A PC Game To Another Hard Drive (Without Re-Downloading It) | LifeHacker

New Information

How to Move Microsoft Store Games To A Different Partition | Next Of Windows

How to Move GOG Games to Another Drive or Computer | iFindSoft

My Comments

You may have two hard disks in your tower-style desktop computer, or the main hard disk is partitioned in to two spaces and you want to move your games to the secondary disk or partition. Or you are running a laptop with a small hard disk and want to use a USB external hard disk for your games.

External hard disk

An external hard disk could be useful for offloading games from your laptop

This may come across as being very difficult for games based on game managers like the Steam or Origin systems, or the Microsoft Store; which typically put all the software on the main disk or partition i.e. Drive C: . But how can you move an existing library out to the other disk or partition or to an external hard disk?

Steam startup screen

Steam – one of the most common games managers

One way is to use a utility like the “Steam Mover” utility to move the files and create symbolic links (system references) to them.

Another way would be to use the game manager to logically move the games across to the other storage location. This is simply by redefining where the game library should be for each of the games.

Steam

  1. Steam - Settimgs - Downloads menu

    Steam – Settimgs – Downloads menu

    In Steam, you use the “Add Library Folder” option in Settings>Downloads>Steam Library Folders to create the new library folder on the disk or partition you are moving your library to.

    Library Folders list in Steam

    Library Folders list in Steam

  2. Then you would need to add a “steamapps” folder to that folder you created in the previous step and insert in to that a “common” folder using File Explorer (Windows Explorer in Windows 7 and earlier). Then you copy the game folders using File Explorer from the existing steamapps\common folder to the newly-created steamapps\common folder.
  3. Using Steam, you then right-click on the game and select “Delete Local Content” to logically uninstall the game at its old location, then click the Install button to logically install the game at its new location. This routine is about creating new logical references to the game’s new location.

Origin

  1. In Origin, you just create a folder in the new location for the games using File Explorer then copy the games over to that location.
  2. Then you start Origin and go to the “Application Settings>Advanced” menu and update the Downloaded Games option to reflect the games’ new locations. This step tells Origin where to download games files for newer games purchases.
  3. Then you would have to go to the My Games view and tell Origin to re-install the games by clicking “Download”. Here, the games aren’t being drawn down from Origin’s servers but are having logical changes to point to the new location.

Microsoft Store

  1. Click on “Settings” which is the “gear” icon within Windows, then open “Apps And Features” or “Apps” depending in how old your Windows 10 build is
  2. Find the game you want to move and click the “Move” button. You will see a list of volumes you can move your game to.
  3. Select that volume to begin the software move process.
  4. Beware not all games offered through Microsoft Store will offer this simplified software-move experience

GOG Galaxy

Most games installed through GOG Galaxy will be simple to move if you are familiar with the Windows Explorer or similar file managers.

  1. Use Windows Explorer to create a folder on your destination hard disk called “GOG Galaxy”. Then, within that folder, create another folder called “Games”.
  2. Again use Windows Explorer to “copy and paste” the game folder from “C:\Program Files” or “C:\Program Files (x86)” folder to the “GOG Galaxy\Games” folder you have created on your destination hard disk or partition. You will find the game folders in the “GOG Galaxy\Games” within the abovementioned Program Files folder..
    It will be more likely for those of us running a 64-bit Windows computing setup to have these games in the “C:\Program Files (x86) folder due to them being written for 32-bit Windows computing setups.
  3. Run the GOG Galaxy software and  reimport the games you have moved to the secondary hard disk. Here, you click the “gear” icon at the top right of the GOG user interface. Then you select “Add Games And Friends”, then “Scan Folders for GOG Games”.
  4. You will be asked to find the folder where you moved your game to. Once you select this folder, you will find that GOG Galaxy will integrate the data that is in the new location.
  5. On the other hand, you may then have to run GOG Galaxy and enter the “Add Games And Friends” menu. Here, you would select “Add Game Manually”. Then you select the game’s title and be required to look for and select the game’s primary executable file which has the game’s title.

Different game installers may use different methods for shifting the logical position of your game library or allowing to move games between one or more libraries.

A problem that may surface with this kind of routine is that if Windows decides to allocate a different drive letter to your removeable storage device every time you connect it, you may end up with unreliable operation. Here, you may have to run the “Download” or “Install” routine to logically update the game manager to the current drive-letter location.

This situation could be easily redressed by integrating library management functionality in to game-manager or app-store software so you can determine where to shift games or other programs. As well, the game manager could reference volumes by volume-names as well as drive letters.

Similarly, game managers or app stores focused on games could simplify the process of setting up games to run entirely from USB memory keys or USB hard disks in a manner to facilitate portable play. This could include installing a copy of the game manager on the medium, managing multiple titles on one medium along with storing the state of play on that medium.

Update:

15 December 2020

Added information for Microsoft Store and GOG Galaxy

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