Fix Content File Locked in Steam 2020

Well, well, well, you wake up one day, power on your PC, open your browser and see a Steam game update but you can’t get it updated due to a shitty error, “steam content file locked.” Annoying right?

I am going to take you through the various ways you can get this fixed.

But before that, how about we tell the new guys to Steam games what Steam really is?

If it is your first time hearing of Steam, it is a video game digital distribution platform that was launched in 2003 (September to be precise). This distribution platform was developed by Valve Corporation, providing automatic updates for Steam games as their core goal. Thanks to the founders that today they include updates for games from third-party publishers.

Having offered such an excellent platform for gamers, sometimes it becomes difficult to update a single game. It has become such a pain that users run into a “Steam error” when updating a Steam game.

The error is something like this: An error occurred while updating [game] (Content file locked)

Steam content file locked -error image

What does content file locked mean on Steam?

When you run into a Steam content file locked error, it means that Steam is not in a position to write update files on your hard disk and this will prevent you from playing the latest version of their games.

Most users have thought of this error as a complex or complicated problem, but with a well-thought approach, you can quickly fix the Steam error effortlessly.

How to Fix Content File Locked on Steam?

Running into this error does not mean that it cannot be fixed so, cheer up because there may be many solutions for this error.

Some solutions are very efficient thus a total guarantee that the error will be fixed. Uninstall Steam and all the local game content and later reinstall it afresh turns out to be the most effective method. However, even though it has worked for many users, it is one of the time and data consuming methods you can ever try.

That said, I prefer we start with easy and time-saving solutions before resorting to time-consuming measures as mentioned above.

So, let’s get rolling but before we do, make sure that you create a restore point just in case something goes wrong.

Solution 1: Check the Antiviruses Installed on Your PC

Most of us become confident with our PCs only when there is an antivirus software installed. However, the same antiviruses can lead to this Steam error.

It might be difficult to believe this but here is what happens: antiviruses are very intelligent, and so they can decide to mark Steam files as potential virus and quarantine. When this happens, you will not be able to write any Steam game files on your hard disk.

So, what should you do?

In this situation, the only option is to disable the antivirus until you can do the update on Steam game

The steps to disabling different antiviruses vary between one another. But, you can manage to disable most of them using the steps below temporarily.

The instructions discussed in this fix are only intended to disable antivirus and not to uninstall an antivirus program temporarily

The following steps will help you to disable antivirus in Windows:
  1. Click on the Windows notification area and locate the antivirus protection program icon of the antivirus you are using.
  2. Once you see the antivirus icon, right-click on it then select Disable, Stop, Shut down, or something similar. For some antivirus programs, you may want to open the program then disable it from the antivirus’ menu.

Once you have disabled your antivirus, the next thing is to check the integrity of game files. Below are the steps:

  1. Restart your PC and then relaunch Steam.
  2. Navigate to the LIBRARY section and then right-click on the specific game was giving you problems.
Steam content file locked -library
  1. Select the Properties option then navigate to the Local Files tab.
  2. Next, click the VERIFY INTEGRITY OF GAME FILES button. Be patient for a while until Steam verifies that particular game.
Steam content file locked -verify integrity
  1. After the Steam game files integrity is verified, try updating Steam games and hopefully the content file locked on Steam has been fixed.

If this error isn’t fixed by now, please try the next fix and see if it can be a viable workaround.

Solution 2: Change Steam and Game Files Location

If the above fix did not work for you, relocating Steam Installation and Game files could work.

However, if the error persists even after changing the location of Steam and game files, then we will have to reinstall Steam. The entire process is listed below.

Any interruption during the copying process may corrupt the files; hence you would have to resort to reinstalling the client again. Therefore, make sure that you have a stable power and no file transfer cables are connected on your PC. It would be wise if you close other running apps too.

Here is how to go about it:

Part 1

  1. Open the Steam Client and then click on the Settings button.
  2. Click on Downloads then choose Steam Library Folders.
  3. Next, select ADD LIBRARY FOLDER. This can be found at the lower-left corner.
adding library folder
  1. Now select the new location for Steam.
  2. After selecting the new location, simply close the Steam Client then head over to your Steam directory. (The default location is C:\Program Files\Steam.)
  3. Find and delete the exe and all the files apart from UserData and SteamApp folders.
  4. Now move these files (UserData and SteamApp folders) to the new location you specified in Step 4.
  5. Once that is done, launch Steam, log in and check if you can now update Steam games without any issues.

If the Steam content file locked error pops up again, follow the steps listed in part 2 below:

Part 2:

Reinstalling Steam is the next thing that we have to do if the above measures did not get you through this mess. Even though it is a long process, this should fix everything.


  1. Close your Steam account and then browse to the folder or location where you relocated Steam.
  2. Move/Cut the StyeamApp folder from that particular directory and paste it on your Desktop.
  3. Now uninstall Steam in order to remove the old Steam settings from your PC completely.
  4. After the uninstallation process is complete, reinstall Steam but this time, to the initial location that you selected.
  5. Afterwards, move the SteamApps folder that you pasted on the Desktop to the new Steam directory. Moving this folder is important because it will copy all of your game content, your saved games and settings and you will resume from where you left.
  6. Run/Open Steam and key in your credentials.
  7. Finally, verify the integrity of Steam game files using the verification steps in solution 1, and now everything should work just fine.

Solution 3: Reset Winsock

The Winsock catalogue turns out to be another issue that can cause “Steam content file locked error.”

However, the best thing is that we can reset it and rollback to default settings if we execute the netsh winsock reset command.

You can follow these steps to reset Winsock:

  1. Hit the Windows key + R on the keyboard simultaneously to open the Run dialogue box.
  2. Type cmd in the text box and then press Enter key to open the Command Prompt terminal.
  3. Click Yes to grant administrator permission when prompted by the User Account Control (UAC) .
  4. Type netsh winsock reset in the CMD window then hit the Enter key on the keyboard. 
Steam content file locked-winsock
  1. Restart your computer once the command has executed successfully.

Try updating Steam games and see if “Steam content file licked” has been solved.

Solution 4: Repair Corrupt Files

If you are still experiencing the same Steam error, we can try repairing the game files. Doing this will fix any corrupt or missing files that are making it impossible to update Steam games.

Here are the instructions that can guide you on how you can repair Corrupt/Missing Steam Game files:

  1. Close all apps including Steam and navigate to the Steam directory (C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam).
  2. Open the Logs folder and then click on Txt.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the text file and see if any recent errors are logging your device.

An example of an error is this: [2017-04-12 12:47:31] [AppID 346110] Update canceled: File commit failed: failed to move unchanged file “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\workshop\content\346110\570371714\LinuxNoEditor\NPC\Female\Assets\Nude\Nude_Human_Female_Body_D.uasset.z.uncompressed_size” (Disk write failure) Kevin Arrows

The number written first in the URL is your APPID, in this case (346110) is the AppID for ARK Survival Evolved.

  1. Afterwards, navigate to the root folder. In my case, according to the error log above, it is 570371714. Please note that the root folders of different games may vary.
  2. Relaunch Steam and then go your downloads folder.
  3. Lastly, click on the Update option if there are any updates to update the necessary files.
  4. Restart your PC and see if the error is fixed

Solution 5: Check Disk Scan

If the game installation is in a hard drive that has been corrupted or contains bad sectors, you will receive the Steam error content file locked when you try to update it.

This happens because if a Hard Drive has “Bad” sectors, it will slow down. Also, if that is the case, certain areas of the hard drive can’t be accessed.

Running a “Disc Check” scan can help you scan the drive for bad sectors. 

We will have a look at two way to scan the hard drive – using the command prompt and using the Partition Wizard tool. You are free to use any option since both achieve the same goal.

Option 1: Disk Scan Using Command Prompt

  1. Press the “Windows” + “R” keys simultaneously to open the Run dialogue box.
  2. Type in “cmd” and then press “Enter“.
  3. Typechkdsk c: /f” without quotes in the command prompt terminal and press “Enter” to execute the command
  4. PressY” on the keyboard to confirm the scheduling of a disk check scan.
  5. Be patient for a while for the Disk Check scan operation to complete.
  6. Relaunch the Steam game and see if the content file locked on steam error persists.

Option 2: Disk Scan Using MiniTool Partition Wizard

Do you want to check whether your hard drive has bad sectors? e I recommend that you use the MiniTool Partition Wizard toolkit.

This tool is an all-in-one partition manager that can be used to detect bad sectors on your hard drive. Apart from that, you can also use it to perform other tasks like, migrating your operating system from disk to another without disk loss, analyzing your disk space when your computer slows down, and many more.

[button color=”blue” size=”big” link=”” icon=”fa-download” target=”true” nofollow=”true”]Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free[/button]

Here is how you can check bad sectors on the Hard drive via MiniTool Partition Wizard:

  1. Download this software using the button above and install it.
  2. Run the app after installing to open the main interface. From here you will see your disk and the features you can use listed.
  3. Now click on the disk you want to test and then choose the Surface Test from the left panel. You can also right-click on the disk and then select Surface Test from the drop-down menu.
Steam content file locked -use minitool partition wizard
  1. On the next window, click the Start Now button to start testing the selected disk.
start the scan in partition wizard
  1. After the scan, you will receive the results on the screen. Check the test result for the following:
  • Red squares: This means that there are some bad sectors on your hard drive.
  • Green squares: This test result means there is no bad sector on your hard drive.

If the test result has many red squares, then those bad sectors are you are getting the content file locked on steam error. Such results are the worse news because your drive seems to be a failing disk.

However, the good news is that using MiniTool Partition Wizard, you can recover data from such sectors, including the lost by deletion, formatting, virus attack, etc.

Solution 6: Run Steam as Administrator

In occasions, Steam may require to be granted administrator permissions for it to access specific folders and files. If admin permissions are not granted, Windows can block it from accessing the folder and the Steam content file locked error might appear.

Therefore, to get rid of it, you should run Steam as administrator:

  1. Right-click on the Steam then select the Properties option.
  2. Navigate to the Compatibility tab and check the Run as Administrator checkbox.
Steam content file locked -run as admin
  1. Click the Apply button and the OK button in respectively.
  2. Now you can Run Steam and check to see if the issue persists.

Bottom Line

I hope that you have managed to fix the Steam content file locked error that was troubling you.

For or new guys, I am glad that you now know almost everything about the Steam games and that when you encounter this error, you will be prepared to face it.

It has been great having you around and let me know if you were able to fix the issue in the comment section below.

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