Steam is an excellent online platform where you can buy most of the games that come out on PC. It's convenient and affordable - which is a combo that quickly made it very popular. However, it isn’t perfect, and you may log in one day only to find that some of your saves, or even whole games, are missing. In that scenario, you’ll want to know how to recover deleted game files. This article will cover various methods and help you get back to playing in no time.
Why Is my Game Data Missing?
It’s one thing to restore your files, but most of us would also like to know why this happened so that we can prevent it in the future. Many things can cause data loss, such as…
- 💀 Blue Screen of Death. There are few things more infuriating than the infamous BSoD that appears seemingly out of nowhere and right in the middle of an important match. For the uninitiated, BSoD appears when Windows hits a critical error and is usually a sign of outdated drivers or various hardware problems.
- ⚠️ Failed Update. Sometimes, an updated version of Steam may contain a bug that can delete your game files.
- ❓ Corrupted Files. A new update may cause your game to keep crashing, making some of its files unreadable.
- 👀 Steam is Unable to Find your Game. If a title in your Library suddenly appears gray, it’s possible that it’s still on your drive, but Steam doesn’t recognize it.
And these scenarios are just the tip of the iceberg. In any case, we have methods that will efficiently tackle each of them.
6 Ways to Recover Deleted Steam Files
Option #1: Restore Saves From Recycle Bin
If you’ve accidentally deleted your saves/game folder, you’ll first want to go to the Recycle Bin. If you didn’t use Shift + Delete, you’ll likely find your files there. When you find the data that you wish to retrieve, right-click on it and select Restore. This will move it back to its original location.
Option #2: Verify Integrity of Game Files via Steam
This method might work if you still see your games in the Library, but their names are grayed out. It is a quick process that will check if any of the files are missing.
- Open Steam and go to the Library.
- Find your problematic game, right-click on it, and select Properties.
- In the Local Files tab, select Verify integrity of game files.
Option #3: Manually Add Game Folder
It’s also possible that none of the files are missing, but Steam just can’t locate your game. This can easily be solved in 3 steps.
- Open Steam.
- Visit Steam > Settings > Download > Steam Library Folder.
- Click on Add Library Folder. Browse to the location where your game is installed and hit Select. Now, your game should once again appear in the library.
Option #4: Use Data Recovery Software
If the above solutions didn’t work, it’s time to use a premium app to recover deleted Steam files. One that I’d recommend using is Disk Drill, as it’s user-friendly, supports 500+ file formats, and has a high recovery rate. It is a paid product, but you can test it out for free and retrieve 500 MB of game files.
This is how to recover deleted game or Steam files with Disk Drill in 5 steps.
- Visit Cleverfiles. Download a free version of Disk Drill and install it.
- Open Disk Drill. Make sure to select the drive on which your game was installed. There are various scan options to choose from, but for best results, you’ll want to select All Recovery Methods. Since it consists of all 4 scanning modes, it has the best chance to recover deleted game data.
- Start the Scan. When you are set, click on Search for lost data. This is a very thorough scan, so it might take a while. After it’s completed, select Review Found Items.
- Locate Game Data. Disk Drill probably found hundreds of GB of data, which may be overwhelming at first. Luckily, you can use the search bar in the top right corner to filter the results pretty quickly. Just typing in Steam or the name of your game will shorten the list considerably. If you are looking for lost saves, you might want to filter by file extension. However, keep in mind that some games don’t have a single save file, but a directory containing various formats, such as .dat, .mca, .json, .sav, and .mgz. In this case, you can use Disk Drill’s preview function to make sure that you have the right file before recovering it. To do this, select View > Preview Panel.
- Restore Deleted Game Files. Select the boxes next to the files that you wish to retrieve and choose Recover. Pick the destination where you wish to save them. Click OK and the recovery will be initiated.
Note: For security purposes, Disk Drill doesn’t let you restore files on the disk that you previously used.
Option #5: Use Steam Backup Feature
This option works if there are still some game files on your drive and you have previously created a backup.
- Visit Steam > Backup and Restore Games.
- Select Restore a Previous Backup. Here, you can also create a new one, which we will talk about in a bit.
- Find the Game That you Want to Recover. Click Browse and find your title in the Steam backups folder. Hit Next.
- Reinstall Your Game.
If you don’t have a backup, here’s how to create one and save yourself some future troubles.
- Go to Steam > Backup and Restore Games.
- Choose Backup Currently Installed Programs.
- Select the Games That you Want to Backup.
- Start the Backup. Just hit Next on the next few windows to initiate the process. If not specified otherwise, your files will be saved at C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\backups.
Note: This method doesn’t save config files, Steam Cloud saves, and custom content.
Option #6: Resync via Steam Cloud
Lastly, we have a way to recover deleted game saves for titles that use Steam Cloud to store your data. This option only works in scenarios where your game hasn’t shut down successfully, like if you’ve experienced BSOD or an unexpected power outage. To restore your saves you will need to …
- Visit Your Steam Cloud.
- Locate Your Game and Click on Show Files. This will give you the path to the folder where all of your saves for the particular game are stored.
- Exit the Steam and Delete the Save Folder. This prevents the app from automatically uploading previous save point back to the cloud, which would overwrite your progress. We also recommend that you create a copy of your save folder, just in case something goes wrong.
- Relaunch the Steam. The app will now re-sync the data so that you get your most recent save.
- Start the Game. If everything went smoothly, your latest save will be restored.
Yes. It is done for convenience so that you don’t need to download a full game after uninstalling it.
Your game saves are a part of wider storage known as Steam Cloud. Cloud is by default stored in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata. However, many 3rd party games use different destination folders, which you can find on your Steam Cloud profile.
There are multiple methods depending on your scenario.
In case your PC has unexpectedly shut down, you can recover deleted game saves via Steam Cloud. To do this, you will first have to create a copy of and erase the save folder located on your computer. When you start Steam it will recognize that some files are missing and start downloading your latest saves from Steam Cloud.
You can also use premium recovery software, such as Disk Drill or Windows File Recovery. The former tool is more user-friendly and has a high recovery rate.
There’s also Steam’s backup feature, which could work if you’ve set it up right before. To activate it go to Steam > Backup and restore games > Restore a previous backup and choose your game from the list.
Yes. This is why you’ll want to create a backup of the games that you wish to keep.
As expected, many methods will help you recover deleted game files and saves. To prevent this from happening in the future, we recommend that you backup important games on a separate drive.
Marko Medakovic carved out his path as a Freelance writer by writing premium articles on the tech and gaming industry. He has written extensively on the topics of data recovery and macOS security. Marko is driven by a desire to spread his knowledge clearly and concisely, so that everyone can benefit from it.
Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team.