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Steam on a pen drive?

Now there’s a thought, but you may ask why, or be concerned about how practical it may be, well…

Having your Steam install on a pen drive means that it’s portable, meaning that you can plug it in to any computer you like. Yes that’s right, any computer, be it in your house or a friend’s house. Of course this means you can play any of the Games you own anywhere you like. It’s also fine to have more than one copy of your Steam Library too, one on your own computer and one on a pen drive.

And the best part is there’s no new install to do and no setup or configuration, it just works (promise, I’ve been doing if for ages)! ;-)

But to make the whole thing run that little smoother and dare I say faster (and faster’s always good, right!?) you should consider what pen drive you use. Here we have one of the best, a Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 128GB USB 3.0 drive.

Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 128GB

This drive is on average twice as fast as a modern HDD, the HyperX drive features a fast READ (225MB/s) and a fast WRITE (135MB/s) speed, meaning that not only is your Steam setup now portable but it’s faster too!

BEFORE YOU START: As some of the newer games now feature files bigger than 4GB (yes that’s you TitanFall) you should re-format the drive using NTFS. Just simply Right Click the drive you want to format (please make sure you select your pen drive!), select Format and choose the NTFS option within, leave all other options at their default setting. Then click Start…

So what do you need to do to setup steam on a pen drive? There are three ways that you can start, either:

(1) Copy your Steam Directory and ALL of its contents to the pen drive. Obviously for this to work you want to make sure you have enough available space on the pen drive. Also you don’t want to fill the pen drive to the limit as performance begins to degrade. Try and always leave around 10% free space.

(2) If you don’t have the space on the pen drive, you could chop down the Game Data via Steam (using the Delete Local Content option), but to be fair this is probably not the best approach, as your Games are effectively deleted. But if your internet connection is really slow and or you want to transfer a lot of games this still could be the best approach…

(3) The cleanest and to some degree the simplest option is to just download the Steam Client installer and install it directly to the pen drive.

 

By the time you are at this point you should have Steam installed on your pen drive, either with some Games in place or not.

THE TRICK NOW is to make sure that when you want to run Steam (you don’t run it from your PC) all you do is browse to the Steam folder on the pen drive and locate the Steam Application executable and run it!

 

SteamApplicationEXE
 

You may get a Error that says Something like Steam is not configured correctly, just accept this and press OK and Steam (clever that it is) will just re-configure itself. Login with your Steam Username and Password as per usual an voilà!

NOTE: You can only login to Steam once on any system anywhere, if you are logged in elsewhere you will be notified by Steam and have the option to effectively log the other account out and continue to login yourself.

From this point on you’ll be running everything from the pen drive, all installs will take place here and all un-installs. You’ll also now begin to appreciate the speed increase that this should give assuming that your using a drive like the Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 128GB USB 3.0 (shown above).

You can now also remove your pen drive take it to a friend’s house and follow the same routine as above. Just make sure you run the Application from the pen drive, no need to re-install Steam!
 
Just in case you were thinking of doing something you shouldn’t, this only works for YOUR Steam account, you cannot transfer Games to any other Steam account as that would obviously be prohibited… ;)

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  1. Daniel
    April 3rd, 2014 at 02:18 | #1

    Steam now lets users log into multiple machines at once. It’s how they let you do in-home streaming. You still can only be playing games on one machine at a time, but at least now you can see your friends and library from anywhere without having to log in and out constantly.

    • James
      April 3rd, 2014 at 09:37 | #2

      If I try and do this (log onto to Steam on another PC at the same time as logged in elsewhere), the original login is logged out and Steam states the following:

      Steam – Logged In Elsewhere: Your account is currently in use at another machine. You’ll need to shut down Steam on your other computer in order to log in here.