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Split Steam Install for SSD Goodness

No_Style

Member
Jun 13, 2007
12,810
0
0
Ottawa, Canada
www.gamedealscanada.com
I have a OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB solid state drive. It's my OS drive and has about 35 GB worth of free space. That's more than enough for a game or two, but like many of you, I have many, many games on Steam and it likes to keep everything under one directory.

So I did a bit of searching to see if I could somehow split my Steam install. Apparently, you can! I found this little trick on the Steam forums. Note that this guide only works with Windows Vista and Windows 7

It essentially works like this:

Overview:
Install Steam and games on Hard Drive 1
Move required games folder/files to Hard Drive 2
Use Windows command to point Steam to folder on Hard Drive 2

This can be done on a game by game basis. The guide is easy enough to follow, but still a little inconvenient. Then I flipped to the last page of the thread and discovered this SteamTool Library Manager utility which handles the whole process in a nice GUI:



Everything works as it normally does. Steam can still see the files on your SSD and it'll update as per usual. With this tool, at least some of your games, can bask in the greatness of SSD!

This would be great for those frequently played games or ones with horrendous load times.

Edit:

Civilization V load times decreased by approximately 5 seconds
Crysis: Warhead load times decreased by approximately 15 seconds
 

Revolutionary

Member
Sep 13, 2007
21,009
4,559
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Brooklyn, NY
I thought this would be a pretty good idea for L4D2 and TF2, but in the end I was always waiting for everyone else to load.

So far I've yet to find a good reason to use this since Steam is on a pretty damn fast mechanical drive anyway (6GB/s Raptor).

...and yes, it does work - the mklink command, I mean.
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
Jun 18, 2009
62,408
10
1,115
How well would this work with a USB external hard drive? Would it be able to transfer the fast enough?
 

Vanillalite

Ask me about the GAF Notebook
Apr 14, 2008
39,999
1
0
GA, USA
Revolutionary said:
I thought this would be a pretty good idea for L4D2 and TF2, but in the end I was always waiting for everyone else to load.

So far I've yet to find a good reason to use this since Steam is on a pretty damn fast mechanical drive anyway (6GB/s Raptor).

...and yes, it does work - the mklink command, I mean.

I have a friend like this. He's ALWAYS in the server 1st chill waiting on people like me! LOL
 
The_Technomancer said:
How well would this work with a USB external hard drive? Would it be able to transfer the fast enough?


I have a SSD on my laptop, and have moved my steam directory to my e-sata hard drive. It's as if the disk was internal. Give me ten minutes and I'll test it with a USB cable and report ;).


Edit : Tested with Metro 2033, Crysis and Just Cause 2, there are no major differences between e-sata and USB connection, save longer loadings (but not that much longer, it's still bearable) for Crysis when you load a game.
 

Instro

Member
Jan 14, 2009
24,476
1
705
31
California
Yeah I have heard of this as well, never gotten around to testing it out though. Everything Ive read about it suggests that it works though.
 

Shai-Tan

Member
Mar 16, 2009
6,469
981
1,145
wow, thanks. I have been buying some games off Steam because it's easier to move them on and off the SSD but this solves that problem for me
 

Ceebs

Member
Aug 11, 2006
8,515
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0
I use a similar program for every Steam game I install. It works perfectly fine.
 

K.Jack

Knowledge is power, guard it well
Mar 10, 2007
24,183
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1,410
I'll definitely need this guide when my new notebook comes. It can hold 2 HHDs, so I'll have one huge drive for my music and Steam games.
 

Minsc

Member
Oct 1, 2007
13,901
0
1,200
Eastern Shores
The SteamTool app is very neat and easy, good idea making a thread to give it some notice, this has always been one of my pet peeves for Steam. Would be nice if this program gave you size totals in the game listing so you knew before moving it (some games are 400 megs, others are closer to 20GB).

Here's the less friendly way to do this (if you'd prefer to manage stuff yourself), you can use Symbolic Link Creator. Here's how you'd use it:

1) Move the folder you want from the steamapps folder to the SSD drive.



2) Run Symbolic Link Creator following the example's formating below, where SSD:\ is just the drive letter for your SSD (you can just hit browse to the folder on the SSD).


3) Done (press 'Create Link')! To move the game off the SSD when you're done or want to swap it, first delete the link file from the steamapps folder then just move the game's folder back from the SSD to the steamapps folder.

This has the advantadge of being able to split your games over as many locations / drives as you'd like, instead of just two (and being able to move other stuff outside of steam off your SSD, like your iOS app folder - mine's ~20GB, etc)! :)
 

zoku88

Member
Dec 25, 2006
19,490
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0
33
Yea, I just use symlinks most of the time. (though, not creating them from a GUI. It's easy enough doing it from CLI)
 

loosus

Banned
May 31, 2006
6,580
0
0
Somewhat unrelated by similar principle:

I have two HDD's. One stores my operating-system data. The other stores my user data (like documents, music, games, etc.).

Using a program called Deep Freeze (which most universities use), I have "frozen" my operating-system HDD. This means that any changes I make to the HDD will be undone as soon as I reboot the PC. This is helpful for making experimental changes to a PC configuration and quickly getting it back to its original state. It also ensures that operation doesn't get continually slower over time, as is custom with many PCs.

The other HDD, which stores user data, is not frozen. Changes to it are permanent across reboots.

Well, some things are required to go on the operating-system HDD, which is inconvenient since it is frozen. So, what I did was create a symbolic link on the operating system HDD to the user-data HDD.

So, for example, let's say that I had a folder on the operating-system HDD called "C:\mystuff" that I wanted to not be frozen. And let's also say that I have a few programs that are hard-coded to look into the "C:\mystuff" folder, so you can't really just move the folder to a non-frozen HDD. A symbolic link will take care of this. Move the "mystuff" folder to the user-data HDD ("D:\mystuff"), and then create a symbolic link named "C:\mystuff" that points to "D:\mystuff" That way, whenever you, or a program/service, tries to access or alter data in "C:\mystuff" it is really accessing the non-frozen version at "D:\mystuff"

This can be used for just about anything, except absolutely crucial Windows system files, but you really wouldn't have much of a reason to symbolically link them, anyway.
 

Iadien

Guarantee I'm going to screw up this post? Yeah.
Oct 29, 2006
7,472
0
0
This was posted in the steam thread... somewhere. It works well enough.
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
Jun 18, 2009
62,408
10
1,115
Manmedaz said:
I have a SSD on my laptop, and have moved my steam directory to my e-sata hard drive. It's as if the disk was internal. Give me ten minutes and I'll test it with a USB cable and report ;).


Edit : Tested with Metro 2033, Crysis and Just Cause 2, there are no major differences between e-sata and USB connection, save longer loadings (but not that much longer, it's still bearable) for Crysis when you load a game.
This is incredible then, I can back everything up to my external with ease.

EDIT: Dangit, just remembered that this drive isn't SS. It probably would take a performance hit then?
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
Jun 18, 2009
62,408
10
1,115
Okay, I'm going to test it with Super Meat Boy. If any game will show latency or lag issues, its that one.

I think? Ugh, I don't have a good understanding of memory access and gaming.
 

Hylian7

Member
Mar 25, 2009
24,331
0
1,000
I actually did this a few weeks ago with two 500GB HDD's. One got full and all it has is my Steam install on it. The other is the OS/other programs, but there were still 300GB left on it. No sense in letting that 300GB go unused!
 

Ledsen

Member
Mar 25, 2007
12,259
2
0
Sweden
loosus said:
Somewhat unrelated by similar principle:

I have two HDD's. One stores my operating-system data. The other stores my user data (like documents, music, games, etc.).

Using a program called Deep Freeze (which most universities use), I have "frozen" my operating-system HDD. This means that any changes I make to the HDD will be undone as soon as I reboot the PC. This is helpful for making experimental changes to a PC configuration and quickly getting it back to its original state. It also ensures that operation doesn't get continually slower over time, as is custom with many PCs.

The other HDD, which stores user data, is not frozen. Changes to it are permanent across reboots.

Well, some things are required to go on the operating-system HDD, which is inconvenient since it is frozen. So, what I did was create a symbolic link on the operating system HDD to the user-data HDD.

So, for example, let's say that I had a folder on the operating-system HDD called "C:\mystuff" that I wanted to not be frozen. And let's also say that I have a few programs that are hard-coded to look into the "C:\mystuff" folder, so you can't really just move the folder to a non-frozen HDD. A symbolic link will take care of this. Move the "mystuff" folder to the user-data HDD ("D:\mystuff"), and then create a symbolic link named "C:\mystuff" that points to "D:\mystuff" That way, whenever you, or a program/service, tries to access or alter data in "C:\mystuff" it is really accessing the non-frozen version at "D:\mystuff"

This can be used for just about anything, except absolutely crucial Windows system files, but you really wouldn't have much of a reason to symbolically link them, anyway.

So how do you handle OS updates etc?
 

Scipius

Member
Oct 11, 2007
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0
850
For those that want to move older Source games to SSD (e.g. TF2), just be sure to also move and create symbolic file links for the TF2 .GCF files in the SteamApps folder itself. Most of TF2's content is actually in those files, rather than the TF2 folder. The SteamTool programme can't do it unfortunately.
 

Miburou

Member
Jun 22, 2004
4,388
1
0
Cool. I wish I'd learned of this before being done with Dead Rising 2. The loading is annoying when you're on your 7th playthrough, and with 12GB of RAM I could easily afford to make a RAM disk large enough to hold the game. :D
 

DigiMish

Member
Jan 28, 2009
2,063
0
0
So I've got a SSD and a HDD. I'm planning on keeping a couple of my most played games on the SDD and everything else on the HDD, switching here and there.

Do I install the actual Steam application on my SDD or HDD?
 

oneils

Member
Mar 2, 2011
7,922
0
820
Ottawa, Canada
steamcommunity.com
DigiMish said:
So I've got a SSD and a HDD. I'm planning on keeping a couple of my most played games on the SDD and everything else on the HDD, switching here and there.

Do I install the actual Steam application on my SDD or HDD?

I believe you install Steam on the hard drive that won't act as storage. In your case, install Steam on the SDD. Your HDD would become the storage drive.

You can find more the app creator's website: http://stefanjones.ca/steam/
 

Erebus

Member
Aug 24, 2007
6,532
66
1,335
Europe
The manager hasn't been updated since last September. Does anyone know if it stills works with the current version of Steam?
 

blackprophesy

Member
Jan 30, 2011
819
0
630
DarkUSS said:
The manager hasn't been updated since last September. Does anyone know if it stills works with the current version of Steam?
Yes it does. I was using it yesterday to tidy up my recent installs.
 

abuC

Member
May 17, 2005
5,712
0
0
Just set this up, works great and I finally have some space on my SSD, was down to around 11gb (128gb).
 

Rad-

Member
Jan 31, 2009
15,325
0
680
No_Style said:
I just tried it with Civilization V and compared load times from my WD Caviar 1TB w/ 64MB cache and there was ~5 second improvement. Probably not the best game to try it with, but I'll continue tinkering and post results.

Civ is probably the best game to try it out, because of the long late game turn loadings. Does it improve them or just normal loading screens?
 

scoobs

Member
Aug 8, 2007
8,214
0
1,030
damn, wish i could do this with non-steam games and games that aren't in the common folder. I have cs 1.6 and cs:s in a diff folder and i can't move em damn