Looking for working methods to restore Steam games? While we can’t guarantee they’ll work for everyone, we’ve tried to look at the process from all angles. We began with the ideal situation, knowing the game wasn’t erased, but something is preventing you from playing it. We then covered both using the backup feature built into Steam and manually retrieving backups from another computer or drive. If that isn’t possible, we tried to remind you of two useful features that come with Windows 10 and can make a huge difference. Finally, we provided a way to resolve complete Steam game data loss. With that acknowledged, let’s show you how to recover Steam games.
Instructions to recover Steam games with backup
As mention, this section doesn’t only apply to people with a backup prepared. The steps below can be utilized by users who suddenly lost access to games on Steam, e.g., their names are grayed out, but they’re sure the games aren’t deleted. The reason for this can vary, but most commonly, it happens after an operating system update, game update, or due to corrupted files. With that said, here are 5 ways to restore Steam games with backup:
1. Verify the integrity of files
Find the game in question in the sidebar on the left, and then do this:
- Right-click on its name, then select Properties.
- Switch over to the Local Files tab.
- Click on Verify Integrity of Game Files…
- Wait for the process to finish and see if the game is playable now.
2. Rename the .blob file
The .blob file is responsible for information about your Steam game installation and the Steam installation itself. For that reason, restoring it to default can fix a host of problems. Here’s what to do:
- Go to the directory you installed Steam in. By default, those are:
- Windows. C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\
- Mac. <main drive letter>/Library/Application Support/Steam/
- Linux. <main drive Letter>/.local/share/Steam/
- Look for a file named ClientRegistry.blob.
- Right-click on it and select Rename, press F2 on your keyboard, or double-click on its name.
- Name it however you want, for example, ClientRegistry-old.blob.
- Save changes, launch Steam, and check whether the games are back.
3. Recover Steam games using a built-in backup feature
Steam allows you to backup entire games and/or certain game files within the program. On Windows, those files are saved in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\backups. On Mac and Linux, refer to the paths above, and open the backups folder. Not many people use this method because a lot of things aren’t saved, such as multiplayer maps, config files, Steam cloud saves, or any custom content. But if you did, here’s how to restore access to Steam games this way:
- Click on Steam in the top left corner.
- From the drop-down menu, select Backup and Restore Games.
- Click on Restore a Previous Backup.
- If you moved the data from the default folder, navigate to it.
- When the backup is detected, put a checkmark in front of games you want to restore and click on Next.
- Wait for the process to complete. Feel free to utilize method 1 afterward. If you’re still facing problems, follow the steps in method 2 as well.
4. Retrieve Steam games manually
Made a manual backup by copying the game files from the Steam Game Library in time? If so, even if you wipe storage, delete a specific game, suffer an operating system crash, or want to move the game to another computer, you’ll have no problems. It’s much faster than downloading, and the backup is complete, unlike the built-in feature. Let’s get into the steps required to restore a Steam game from a manual backup:
1. Deal with Steam game libraries
First, we’ll show you how to discover the default game library for Steam. Then, if you decide to choose another drive, how to change it within Steam.
1. Find a Steam game library
By default, Steam stores a game in these locations:
- Windows: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\Common\game-name
- Mac: <main drive letter>/Library/Application Support/Steam/SteamApps/Common/game-name
- Linux: <main drive letter>/.local/share/Steam/SteamApps/Common/game-name
Tip. Because games sometimes have similar names or unusual characters, Steam often uses a game ID instead of a game-name. To check the ID, visit SteamDB’s Apps page and search for it.
2. Create a new game library
If nothing is there or you have a fresh Steam installation and you want to pick a different location, follow these steps:
- Click on Steam in the top left corner, then select Settings.
- Click on Downloads in the left sidebar, then click on Steam Library Folders under Content Libraries to see a list on other drives.
- If you want to pick a new location, click on the Add Library Folder button.
2. Start the download process
Go back to the Steam home page, then start downloading a game you want to restore from a backup. Let it download a few MBs of data or about 1%, then stop the download process.
3. Copy the files over
Copy (Ctrl + C on Windows and Linux, Control + C on Mac) the contents of a manual game backup. Paste (Ctrl + V on Windows and Linux, Control + V on Mac) them inside of the game-name/game ID folder in a default library location or the new one you created.
4. Launch the game
From the Steam home page, launch the game. It should begin verifying the file integrity automatically before starting. If it doesn’t, follow the steps outlined in method 1 above. Once again, if you run into trouble, try method 2.
4. Utilize File History
Was the File History feature enabled on your Windows 10 PC? There’s a chance your game folder is among the available folders you can retrieve from a backup. To check, follow the steps listed under the Restore folders from File History headline in our deleted folder recovery in Windows 10 article.
5. Use Windows 10 backup
If you made a shadow copy of the entire partition on Windows 10, and the Steam games were on it, you can simply restore it from a backup. Read the instructions under the How to restore folders from a Windows 10 backup headline in the aforementioned article. After you’re done, utilize method 3 above to copy the game files to the Steam game library and launch the game from Steam.
Procedure to recover Steam Games without a backup
It might seem all hope of Steam game restoration is lost if you don’t have a backup. While that might still be the case, you shouldn’t give up. When you delete something on your computer, the internal address to the file is deleted, and your system marks it as free space. However, the data itself remains until you start transferring files to and from the storage. For that reason, if you lost the Steam game folder recently, there’s a strong chance the games aren’t overwritten at all. Even if the portion of them is, once you copy them to the Steam Game Library (method 3 above), the missing files will be downloaded by Steam’s integrity verification tool. This beats downloading from scratch, that’s for sure. For detailed instructions, read our “recover files from Recycle Bin after emptying” guide. You can benefit from all 5 methods.