Steam Disk Write Error: What It Is and How to Fix It

Stop dropping downloads and get back to gaming

The Steam disk write error prevents a woman from playing a game on her laptop.

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The Steam disk write error is an error that occurs when you're trying to download or update a game like Dota 2, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Grand Theft Auto V, Rocket League, or any other game that you bought on the Steam platform.

This error appears anytime Steam is unable to download and save game data to the storage drive on your computer during an update or new installation. To fix the error, you need to identify why Steam is unable to save data to your storage drive and then fix that problem.

How the Steam Disk Write Error Appears

When you experience a Steam disk write error, it usually manifests as a pop-up error message. The message typically appears when you attempt to install or download a new game, or when you attempt to update a game that you previously installed. It can also appear when you attempt to launch a game that is in need of an update.

This is what you'll typically see when experiencing a Steam disk write error:

An error occurred while installing [game title] (disk write error):
C:\Program Files (x86)\steam\steamapps\common\game title

You may also see a more generic message like one of these:

An error occurred while updating [game title]
An error occurred while installing [game title]

Cause of Steam Disk Write Errors

The Steam disk write error is triggered whenever Steam attempts to install or update a game, and it isn't able to save data to your Steam folder. This can happen when your drive or Steam folder is write protected, when there are physical defects in your hard drive, or even when your antivirus or firewall blocks Steam from downloading and saving data.

11 Ways to Fix A Steam Disk Write Error

If you're experiencing a Steam disk write error, try these fixes:

  1. Restart Steam and your computer.

    In a lot of cases, this problem is only temporary. The easiest way to rule out a temporary issue is to restart Steam, and then try to download or play your game again. If that doesn't work, restart your computer.

    If you still see a Steam disk write error after restarting both Steam and your computer, move on to the next troubleshooting step.

  2. Remove write protection.

    A screenshot of the diskpart utility.

    Write protection prevents your computer from altering or adding files to a folder or an entire drive. When that happens to your Steam directory or drive, it causes a Steam disk write error.

    To fix this problem, verify which drive on which your Steam games are stored, and then remove write protection from that drive.

  3. Turn off the read only setting for your Steam directory.

    A screenshot of the Steam read only settings.

    Read-only is a setting that can be applied to folders or individual files. If your Steam directory is set to read only, it can cause a Steam disk write error.

    To fix this problem, locate your Steam folder and turn off the read only setting.

  4. Run Steam as administrator.

    A screenshot of running Steam as administrator.

    Running a program, like Steam, as administrator gives it extra permissions and can fix a lot of weird problems. If you have removed write protection, or turned off the read only setting, and you still get a Steam disk write error, running Steam as administrator may fix your problem.

  5. Delete corrupted files.

    When something goes wrong as Steam starts downloading a game, it may create a corrupted file that subsequently causes the Steam disk write error. This file can be found in your steamapps/common directory.

    To fix this problem, navigate to your main Steam directory, navigate to the steamapps/common directory, and look for a file with the same name as the game you're trying to download. If that file is 0KB in size, delete the file and attempt to download or launch the game again.

  6. Verify the integrity of your game files.

    A screenshot of verifying the integrity of game files on Steam.

    If you don't have a 0KB file in your steamapps/common directory, there's still a chance that you're dealing with corrupt game files. The best way to deal with this is to use Steam's integrity check.

    To fix this, open your Steam library and locate the game that you're trying to update or play. Right click on the game, and click properties > local files tab > verify integrity of game files.

    If Steam finds any corrupt files, it will automatically download new versions of those files.

    If your game uses a launcher, and the launcher downloads additional updates, do not verify integrity of game files. Doing so will replace your updated game with the base launcher, and you will then need to re-download the updates through the launcher.

  7. Clear your Steam download cache.

    A screenshot of clearing the Steam download cache.

    If your Steam download cache is corrupted, it can cause disk write errors.

    To fix this problem, open Steam. Then navigate to Steam > Settings > Downloads > Clear Download Cache.

  8. Move your Steam game to a different drive.

    A screenshot of moving a Steam game.

    In some cases, there may be a problem with your drive that physically prevents Steam from writing to it. The easiest fix for this, if you have multiple drives or partitions, is to move your Steam installation folder to a different drive.

    If this fixes your Steam disk write error problem, that's a good indication that you have a problem with the original drive. While you have fixed this one problem, you may experience additional problems with your drive in the future.

  9. Error check your drive.

    If moving your Steam install folder fixed your problem, error checking your drive is a good idea. It's also a good idea to perform this check if you have multiple partitions on one physical drive, and moving your Steam folder didn't fix your problem.

    In some cases, this process will be able to identify bad sectors and tell Windows to ignore them in the future. If the problem persists or gets worse, you may need to replace your hard drive.

  10. Disable your antivirus program, or add exceptions.

    In some rare instances, your antivirus program can incorrectly identify Steam as a threat and prevent it from downloading and saving game data. If nothing else has fixed your Steam disk write error, you can check to see if this is the problem by temporarily disabling your antivirus.

    If the Steam disk write error goes away with your antivirus disabled, you have a few options. You can turn the antivirus off whenever you need to download or update a game, you can switch to a different antivirus, or you can add an exception for Steam in your antivirus program.

    We have a guide to adding exceptions in Norton. For instructions to add exceptions in programs, contact the publisher or developer of your antivirus.

  11. Disable your firewall, or add exceptions.

This is similar to the antivirus problem, except it involves your firewall blocking Steam from doing things. The fix is the same, so you can check to see if this is the problem by temporarily disabling your firewall.

If this fixes your problem, you need to either add an exception for Steam into your firewall, or try a different firewall.

We have a guide to using the default Windows 10 firewall, including instructions on how to allow an app or program through the firewall. If you use a different program, contact the developer or publisher of your firewall software for instructions.

Other Causes of Steam Disk Write Errors

If you still have problems with a Steam disk write error after trying all of these fixes, you could be dealing with a brand new problem. Your best options in that case include contacting Steam for individual troubleshooting help, or posting on the Steam Community forum.