How to Fix the Steam Disk Write Error

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The Steam write disk error stops you from updating or installing new games. Fix it using the steps in this guide.

If you’re seeing the Steam disk write error, you’re not going to be able to install or update your favorite games. Unfortunately, there isn’t an obvious cause for the problem—it could be down to anything from an outdated client to a malware infection.

However, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot and resolve this problem if you see the Steam disk write error on your PC. To fix it, follow the steps below.

What Causes the Steam Disk Write Error?

The Steam disk write error appears when Steam fails to download or save game files to your hard drive during an installation or update. The error usually appears in a format like this: An error occurred while installing/updating [name of game]. The error message may include additional information, such as the file it couldn’t write or the installation location.

There are several possible reasons why this error might occur. For instance, Steam may not have the necessary permissions to make changes to files in the Steam installation folder or your Steam library folders.

It could also be caused by hardware failures (such as a faulty hard drive) or corrupt files, such as your Steam download cache. Depending on the cause of the problem, different methods can help you fix the Steam disk write error on your PC. We’ve outlined some of them below.

How to Restart Steam (and Your PC)

It’s a cliche, but a quick restart is often the quickest and best fix for a problem you can’t easily troubleshoot. In the first instance, try restarting Steam to see if it fixes your disk write errors. If that doesn’t work, restarting your PC might fix it instead.

Can’t close down Steam? If Steam stops responding, you may need to force Steam to close using the Task Manager. Find the Steam app in the list, right-click on it, and select End task. Then, start Steam again.

End the Steam client process

If that doesn’t work, reboot your PC and try again. This will clear your active memory and (hopefully) fix any bugs that might interfere with Steam.

How to Remove Write Protection from Your Drive or Folder

It shouldn’t have happened, but if you’ve added write protection to a folder or drive that includes files that Steam uses (such as your Steam or individual game installation folder), you’ll see the Steam disk write error appear.

If that happens, you’ll need to remove the protection to allow Steam to make the changes it needs to make. If you’ve encrypted your drive using BitLocker encryption, ensure you have the necessary access required to view and access any game files.

To remove write protection from a Steam folder:

  1. Open File Explorer and navigate to the drive or individual folder where your Steam games are stored.
  2. Right-click on the drive or folder and select Properties (or Show more options Properties).
    Open Steam game folder properties
  3. On the Properties dialog, click the Security tab, select your user name, and click Edit.
    Security options for Steam game folder
  4. Select your user name again and ensure the Allow box is checked for Full control.
  5. If not, check it and click OK.
    Set Steam folder permissions
  6. You may be asked to provide your username and password. Provide this if prompted to do so.
  7. Click OK to close the Properties dialog.
    Exit Steam properties window

Once you’ve updated the write protection for the folder or drive Steam is trying to access, try downloading or updating your game again.

How to Clear Your Steam Download Cache

Steam will temporarily store files as cache during game downloads. These files aren’t required in the long term, but if Steam can’t access this data correctly during a game installation, it could cause it to fail.

If that happens, you’ll need to wipe the Steam download cache to allow it to download or update your games without further problems.

  1. Open Steam.
  2. Go to Steam > Settings.
    Open Steam settings
  3. Under Steam Settings on the left, click Downloads.
  4. On the right, scroll to the Clear Download Cache section, then click Clear Cache.
    Clear download cache Windows 11
  5. If prompted, click Confirm to begin the process.
    Clear Steam download cache

Once you’ve cleared the cache files, exit and restart Steam to see if the problem is resolved.

How to Repair Your Steam Library Folder

Your Steam library is the folder (or folders) that contain the game files for any installed games on your PC. If there’s a problem with this folder, it can cause the Steam disk write error to occur. Steam has a built-in tool to check and repair your Steam library.

  1. Open Steam on your PC and go to Steam > Settings.
    Open Steam settings
  2. In Settings, click Storage on the left.
  3. On the right, choose your library folder from the options at the top, then click the three-dots menu icon.
  4. Select Repair Folder.
    Repair Steam library folder

Wait for the process to complete. Once it’s done, exit the Steam client and restart it.

How to Change Your Steam Download Location

A problematic download for a game can be tricky to bypass. If you think the location itself is the problem, you must change your Steam game’s download location. Ideally, this will be to an entirely separate drive or partition to the original location you were using that caused the error.

How to Set a New Steam Library Location

If you’re trying to install a new game, you can change the installation location as you install the game in Steam. However, to do this, you’ll need to set a new Steam library folder on a new drive or partition.

  1. Open Steam and click the Library menu option at the top.
  2. Locate and select your game and click Install.
    Install a Steam game
  3. Click the gear icon above the list of library options on the popup dialog.
    Steam install gear icon
  4. You’ll be taken to the storage settings menu—tap the Add icon at the top to select a new library folder.
    Add a new Steam library location
  5. Select your drive on the popup dialog, then click Add.
    Add a new Steam library drive
  6. Exit the Settings menu and return to the Library tab.
  7. Select your game and click Install again.Install a Steam game
  8. Your new drive will appear in the list of options—select it and click Install to begin the installation on that new drive.
    Steam install to new location

Fixing Problems With Steam

The Steam disk write error is a common problem, but you can easily fix it thanks to the steps above. However, if you still have problems, you may need to look more closely at your PC.

For instance, if a drive failure is at fault, make sure to check your drive for disk errors next. You should also use Windows Security to check your PC for a possible malware infection to rule it out as a possibility.

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