Steam Content File Locked (SOLVED)



Steam is undoubtedly the most popular gaming platform on PC, and being such a massive platform comes with its issues. Unlike Steam’s download no internet connection error, one of these issues is the Steam content file locked error. Facing this frustrating error can be quite a hassle but do not worry, as we will give you multiple solutions to solve this problem.

Here’s what the Steam Content File Locked error states, “An error occurred while updating GAME NAME (content file locked).”

Steam Content File Locked
Steam Content File Locked (Image by eXputer)

Key Takeaways

  • Steam content file locked is a frustrating error that prevents you from accessing the latest version of your game. It does this because Steam cannot write/update files on your hard disk.

  • Below are a few solutions you can try for Steam content file locked: 
    • Move Steam and game files to refresh and verify files, replace any corrupt or missing data, and resolve file conflicts.
    • Reset Winsock to fix potential network-related issues that prevent file access.
    • Run Steam as administrator to grant it necessary permissions and access and modify files.
    • Scan hard drive for errors to identify and troubleshoot corrupted sectors affecting game files.
    • Validate game files so that it automatically recovers and refreshes corrupted or missing files.
    • Clear Steam’s download cache so that it resolves issues caused by corrupted download data, and free up space.

What Is Steam Content File Locked?

Although there are multiple reasons, this error usually means that Steam can’t write into the files on your hard drive. The Steam content file locked error prevents you from playing the most recent version of your game.  

How To Fix Steam Content File Locked?

There are many causes for this error, and it is tough to pinpoint the exact cause so we have compiled all the solutions you can try below.

Move Steam And Game Files

Moving Steam and game files can help resolve this error because it causes Steam to verify the files. It does this by refreshing old files, replacing corrupt or missing files, and resolving file conflicts between files.

Follow these steps to move Steam files:

  1. Launch your Steam client and press Steam on the top left corner.
  2. Then from the dropdown menu, select settings.
  3. From the Settings window, click on Downloads and then the Steam Library Folders option.
    Download Settings
    Open Download settings, then go to Steam Library Folders (image by eXputer)
  4. After that, click on Add Library Folder. This path will define where all future Steam installations will happen.
  5. Now we will copy all Steam files to the path you created as well. To do this, close Steam and go to your current Steam directory. The default path for Steam is in the Program files of the C drive. 
  6. Open the Steam folder and delete everything except SteamApps, UserData, ad Exe files.
  7. Then select all that’s left, right-click and cut them, and then paste them into the new directory you created a few steps ago.
  8. Finally, relaunch Steam and log in to check if the Steam content file locked still persists.

Reset Winsock To Solve Steam Content File Locked

Winsock (Windows Socket) is a programming interface that lets Steam access Windows network services. Resetting Winsock can potentially fix the Steam content file-locked error. To reset Winsock on Windows 10, follow these steps:

  1. Search CMD in the Windows search box, right-click, and select Run as administrator.
    Run CMD as administrator
    Opening CMD as administrator (image owned by eXputer)
  2. After your CMD has opened, type the command “netsh winsock reset” and then hit the Enter key.
  3. Then wait for the command to be executed. When it’s completed a confirmation message will be displayed.
  4. Finally, reset your PC and launch a Steam game to check if the error has been resolved.

Run Steam As An Administrator

Many users have reported that running Steam as an administrator can solve the Steam content-locked error. Softwares sometimes require special permission from Windows to edit or access certain files. To grant Steam special permissions, follow these steps:

  1. To run Steam as administrator, right-click the Steam icon and press Properties.
    Steam Application properties
    Open Steam properties (image copyrighted by eXputer)
  2. Then press the Compatibility tab from the top. After that, check the run as administrator option and press Apply.
    Run Steam as administrator to fix Steam content file locked
    Check “Run as Administrator” in Compatibility settings (image rights owned by eXputer)
  3. Finally, launch Steam and check if the error persists.

Scan Your Hard Drive For Errors

This frustrating issue can also be caused by errors in certain sectors of your hard drive that contain game files. These sectors may be corrupted. So, we will scan the entire hard drive for errors to troubleshoot them. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Search CMD in the Windows search box and hit the Enter key.
  2. In the CMD window, type in chckdsk C: /f  and press enter. Then press Y to confirm and start the scan.
  3. After a while, your scan will be completed, and a confirmation message will be displayed.
  4. You can now open Steam and check if the error remains.

Validate Your Game Files

Validating the integrity of your game files is especially helpful, as errors can occur due to data corruption or bugs. Doing this can identify missing or damaged files and automatically recover and refresh them. This solution will not only resolve the Steam content file-locked error but also ensures smoother overall gameplay.

Clear Steam’s Download Cache

This error can also be resolved by clearing Steam’s download cache. This works because, over time, the download cache can become corrupted, which leads to issues in downloading and updating files. This also refreshes stuck downloads that can lead to your content file being locked. To clear your cache, follow these steps:

  1. Open Steam, and from the top-right corner, select Steam.
  2. Then press Settings from the drop-down menu.
  3. From the left side of your window, select the Downloads option.
  4. Lastly, press Clear Download Cache and then confirm your choice by clicking on OK.
    Clearing steams download cache to fix steam content file locked error
    Clearing steams download cache (image produced by eXputer)
  5. Now play any game to check if this solution worked for you.

Other Solutions

If none of the solutions we have mentioned above work for you, then try these. These solutions are not guaranteed to work, but they are worth the effort in case one of them does. Both antivirus and firewall block Steam from openly communicating with Windows and prevents it from accessing Windows files. So, the easiest solution to fix these issues is to allow Steam to communicate through your firewall and disable your antivirus. Some users even suggest restarting your PC and Steam.

Did We Help You Solve Steam Content File Locked?

This sums up our guide on how to solve Steam Content File Locked. Although we hope our guide was sufficient and detailed enough for you to solve this error, in case your error still persists, simply contact Steam support and report this issue to them. 


What does it mean by content file-locked Steam?

This error simply means that Steam could not write into the files on your hard drives. This prevents you from playing the latest versions of your games.

Other Steam Articles We Covered:

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