Installing Steam games on a second hard drive

Steam logo

About a month ago I took delivery of a new, much faster PC from PC Specialist. Now I’m getting around to reinstalling games, and I’ve just discovered a neat trick to install Steam-powered games on a second hard drive.

My last PC had served me well for about six years but it was creaking a little around the seams and was being pushed very hard particularly when gaming. It was time to upgrade.

And after upgrades comes the often arduous task of reinstalling applications.

dual-boot or not dual-boot?

On my last two PCs I’ve always set up a dual-boot environment. One partition (C:) was for day-to-day applications (email, web browsing, web development, image editing, etc.), the next (D:) was for games. My reasoning was:

  1. Clean installation of Windows with minimal, and only essential, drivers.
  2. Less distracting. If I wanted to play games then I would need to reboot the PC into the games partition.

However, in practice what it meant was:

  1. Twice as much work, keeping two versions of Windows up-to-date, with both Windows updates and driver upgrades.
  2. It was such a hassle to shut down everything and reboot that I rarely ever played any games. The only people to play were Reuben and Joshua when they played the LEGO Star Wars games.

So I decided on this PC to single-boot (Windows 8 Pro, 64-bit) and install everything side-by-side across two hard drives: my main applications are on C: (120 GB SSD); most of my data plus games are on D: (1 TB Western Digital SATA drive).

So far, so good. I’ve played games more in the last couple of weeks than in the last couple of years, but contrary to my fears it’s not distracted me from my main work on my PC.

However, this evening I realised after installing the Steam client for the first time that it was about to install all 7.8 GB of Call of Duty: Black Ops onto C.

No, no, no, no, no!

Moving Steam to a second hard drive

It turned out to be a pretty easy task to move Steam from C to D. I found the instructions on the Steam support website.

By default Steam installs to C:\Program Files\Steam (or C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam on 64-bit editions of Windows) and the games install to C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps.

“During the installation of Steam, you have the option to install Steam to a location other than the default. Since Steam relies on the game files residing in the SteamApps folder, your game files will go to whatever folder you have Steam installed in. The game files must be in the SteamApps folder in order to function.”

So, here’s what to do, assuming that you’ve already installed Steam to C:.

  1. Log out and exit Steam.
  2. Navigate to the folder where Steam is installed (by default: C:\Program Files\Steam\; or C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\ on 64-bit).
  3. Delete all of the files and folders except the SteamApps folder and Steam.exe.
  4. Cut and paste your Steam folder to the new location, for example: D:\Program Files\Steam\.
  5. Launch Steam.
  6. Steam will briefly update and then you will be ready to play.

Conclusion

I’ve just done this and it worked.

Planning Study 2.1

Back in April 2010 (was it really that long ago?) I wrote a post called Planning Study 2.0 showing how I was using a free online application called Floorplanner to work out whether it was feasible to move my study  from the former garage upstairs into bedroom four.

Then we discovered that we were expecting Isaac and those plans were put on hold. Bedroom four was to become Isaac’s room and my study would need to remain in the “garage room”.

Fast forward a couple of years and it became clear to us that Isaac was going to need a larger room. So Jane and I dusted down our plans and we decided to sacrifice the guest bedroom to move Isaac into, then the study would move into Isaac’s old room, and finally the garage room would become a second living room/lounge with the option of a sofa bed or inflatable double-mattress on the floor.

Initial plan — study 2.0

This was my initial plan from April 2010.

Proposed floor plan of relocated study
Initial floor plan of relocated study

Revised plan — study 2.1

My revised plan of Summer 2012, rotated 90° right.

Plan of study
Final plan

And so during the last couple of months we’ve slowly moved things around. Isaac moved rooms first of all, and then the study steadily moved upstairs. Bookcases and books first, then the filing cabinet and Ikea Poäng chair, and finally my desk (which I had to completely dismantle to get out through the former garage’s sliding door and back in through the front door).

So, here are the 3D renderings from Floorplan to compare with photographs of how the actual room looks.

Looking south

Floor plan of study shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking south)
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase

Looking west

Plan of study, shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking west)
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases

Conclusion

Floorplanner has been a really useful tool. As I said in my initial review, the free account is limited to only one plan (although you can join rooms together to create, for example, a whole floor) but that has been enough for our requirements.

We are now beginning to use it to plan what to do with the old study (the “garage room”). How can we fit in a sofa or two, and still make it comfortable for guests to sleep in? I’ll report back once we’ve worked it out.

Planning Study 2.0

Proposed floor plan of relocated study
Proposed floor plan of relocated study

This evening I’ve been using Floorplanner.com to see whether it’s feasible or not to move my study from what used to be the garage to what is currently the fourth bedroom (affectionately known as ‘the bunk room’).

Jane and I have been thinking ahead to when the boys are a little older and wanting to sleep in the bunk beds; we’d also like to do something a little more creative with the former garage, turning it into another ground floor public room (TV room? play room?).

Plenty of room for

I’ve managed to squeeze in:

  • 1 x planners desk and chair
  • 1 x small bookcase for my printers and scanner
  • 1 x Ikea Poäng chair
  • 1 x four-drawer filing cabinet
  • 6 x book cases

No room for

But I’m still puzzling what to do with:

  • 1 x cupboard full of filing boxes, Big Boy’s Box of Interesting Things™, etc.
  • 1 x PC and CRT monitor
  • 1 x Prie-dieu (prayer desk)
  • 1 x bookcase of guitar music
  • 4 x guitar amplifiers
  • 8 x guitars

What’s holding me up from moving up immediately is working out how we move the broadband connection upstairs (without the use of WiFi or a PowerLine adapter). I suspect we may to have to get an electrician in to add a telephone extension in the new study and perhaps more electrical sockets.

Proposed floor plan of the relocated study in 3D
Proposed floor plan of the relocated study in 3D

Floorplanner

Floorplanner has been really simple to use. It uses an Adobe Flash interface (so you can’t plan your rooms on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad), is pretty intuitive.

I followed the short tutorial to get an idea of the basics, loaded it up on my laptop in the room I wanted to plan and got measuring.

Price: Free for personal use (limited to 1 plan). There are also Plus (€19 per year; up to 5 plans) and Pro (from €19 per month; multiple plans and tours) accounts available.

Strengths: It’s really simple to get started: draw rooms, add doors and windows, tweak dimensions, preview it in 3D. There is quite a large library of objects, furniture, etc. You’re not locked to one PC as plans are available from any online PC.

Weaknesses: Some of the furniture looks quite generic and unremarkable, although dimensions and general colours can be tweaked. There are no filing cabinets in the office category of objects! I couldn’t find an obvious way to put things on the wall (shelves or pictures). The 3D view can be a little tricky at times: you can’t always see exactly the view you want to see.

Conclusion: It’s a great tool for quickly checking to see if your proposed floor plan is going to work (even if you have to improvise some of the furniture).

It’s really much quicker to learn and cheaper to and use than the likes of TURBOFloorplan 3D from IMSIDesign.

Update

This evening (Friday 16 April) I also discovered Autodesk Homestyler which is another Flash-based floorplanner. I don’t mean ‘discovered’ in the same way as say Ferdinand Magellan discovered how to cross the Pacific without the use of a marine-style lollipop man.

In some ways it was nicer and shinier. In other ways it wasn’t quite so customizable.

Holiday week

Last week I was on holiday. It was always my intention to blog as the week went along but I got too involved in other stuff, away from the computer.

I know! How weird. Anyway, here’s how the week went:

Sunday: Deacon Blue

Deacon Blue in concert
Deacon Blue in concert, looking more like Deacon Purple.

Sunday was my birthday. I was 36.

In the afternoon Jane and I drove to Edinburgh, met up with my brother Eddie and his wife Rebecca, went out for a meal and went to see Deacon Blue at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

This gig was my first visit to the Edinburgh Playhouse for a gig since I saw Slayer there on the South of Heaven tour in 1988; Nuclear Assault supported them.

The Deacon Blue gig was the oldest audience that I’ve ever been part of — Sunday morning worship besides. They kept sitting down during the quiet songs!! Hip trouble, I reckoned.

It was also the quietest gig. I think Motörhead’s Lemmy probably sneezes louder than the PA was cranked up on Sunday evening. My industrial-quality earplugs stayed firmly in my pocket.

Still, it was a good evening out. Jane and Rebecca absolutely loved the concert, and sang along to almost everything. I even recognised about five or six songs.

6 Day Riot

The highlight for me, however, was the support act: 6 Day Riot, who I thought were brilliant, quirky, folky and fun. They are a four-piece that play guitars, ukelele, double-bass and drums.

Check them out at MySpace.

I’ve already bought their debut album; and singer Tamara Schlesinger’s solo album too.

Monday: cleaning

Boxes of cans and bottles for recycling

Monday was the first day proper of my holiday, which usually means one thing in Chez Saunders: cleaning.

Cleaning and taking stuff for recycling. It was a good, clean start to my holiday.

Tuesday: DIY day

I woke up bright and early on Tuesday. It was day two of my holiday, which meant only one thing: DIY Day.

New strip light in the shed

First up, the fluorescent light in the shed got replaced. Only £9.99 at Focus — bargain!

Shed with brass plaque: Kadesh

Next up, the brass plaque that had been gifted to us for our former holiday cottage, Kadesh, found a new home on the shed door. Welcome Kadesh, Mk 2.

Bolt on gate

The new bolt for the back gate has been sitting around for months and months. It eventually was fixed to the top of the gate.

Garden hose reel

No longer does out garden hose sit tangled in a heap on the ground in our back yard. It is now neatly wound on this attractive, green hose reel.

New bookcase

My favourite job was to create an extension for my CD bookcase, which I fashioned out of a broken bookcase that was destined for the local recycling centre / civic amenities site / dump. I now have 14 shelves of CDs!

In the afternoon, I sorted out the cupboard in our joint study and installed Kubuntu 6.06 on Mum’s old PC. That was fun. I’ve been meaning to properly check out Linux distros for months.

Wednesday: Moving

On Wednesday Jane’s folks moved into their new house in Anstruther. I went out for a cycle in the morning; hung around Jane’s folks’ new house in the afternoon offering a hand with some DIY.

Thursday: Hospital and holiday

On Thursday morning Jane had an appointment at the hospital; a follow-up from an operation she had a few months ago.

Thankfully all was clear and we could go off for a few days to Loch Rannoch on holiday.

Progress on Mum’s flat

Mum standing beside a bookcase
Mum standing next to one of her new pine bookcases.

Here’s what we got up to at Mum’s on Saturday. This is my to do list:

To do at Mum’s

Jane

  • Rudely awaken Jane at 08:00 – DONE
  • Poke Jane with pointed stick* – DONE

* I was quite inventive: I used the stylus from my O2 Xda Orbit.

Hallway

  • Affix door stops – DONE

Living room

  • Put up clock – DONE
  • Fix chair – DONE
  • Check TV, DVD, VCR connections
  • Buy doormat

Cupboard

  • Mark location of shelves

Guest bedroom

  • Put up curtain rail & curtains – DONE
  • Buy 2 x tall bookcases at Argos – DONE
  • Build 2 x tall bookcases – DONE
  • Unpack boxes – DONE
  • Setup PC on desk

Mum’s bedroom

  • Affix wall hanging (need 2 x 1m poles) – DONE
  • Remove red trunk – DONE

Walk-in Cupboard

  • Buy shelves – OUT-OF-STOCK

Garden

  • Affix washing line – DONE

Not bad: got most things done.

Mum’s new flat is coming along nicely. The carpets and vinyl are down now, and the place is really beginning to look homely. She’s done marvels this week unpacking, with more than a little help from friends Dougie and Julie, and my sister Jenni. They’ve done sterling work.

We didn’t get as many cardboard boxes unpacked as we’d hoped, but we did buy Mum a couple of deep, wide bookcases which will allow her books to climb the walls … rather than her guests! 😉

Snagging

A couple of annoying things about the new place:

  1. In the bathroom the shower was fitted with a rather cheap-looking shower mixer tap (the shower is fed from the boiler rather than an electric shower unit), which is almost impossible for Mum to switch on and off, it is so stiff. It has already been replaced with another one, which Mum can switch on but not off. Mum has arthritis in her hands; I don’t but still have trouble with it. It’s just bad quality.

  2. In the kitchen the waste pipe from the sink has been directed within the space for her dishwasher. The gap is 600 mm deep; her dishwasher is 600 mm deep; the waste pipe is about 90 mm deep. Surely it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that by removing 90 mm from a 600 mm space you are clearly not going to be able to install a dishwasher!!

    So at the moment her dishwasher sticks out … completely preventing access to one of her kitchen cupboards.

My Uncle Lewis, who owns and runs Brydon Home Improvement Services, came over on Friday night and we’ve come up with a snagging list of about 12 items, which also includes a dangerous fuse box, wrong light switches fitted (“… but we ran out!” is not an acceptable excuse in my book), unfinished tiling work in the kitchen, and a missing on/off power switch for the dishwasher.

A couple of weeks more, I reckon, and the house will be completely unpacked, fixed and Mum will be enjoying the benefits of her new smaller place. And then there is the garden to tackle … but, as they, that’s a whole new ballpark of worms.