View Full Version : Certain games only run from the C drive, a mystery.

23-08-2012, 10:38 PM
Hi guys, bit of a long story so please bear with me, I've wanted to ask this for ages but never got round to it.

So I have what I believe is a fairly common setup going; a 128GB SSD as C drive and a 2TB HDD as a D drive. The 2TB drive is in it's second tour of duty having been in my Mac back when I was using Boot Camp so I just moved my Steam stuff off it, formatted it, moved the Steam stuff back on and put it in my PC when it was built, therefore I was running Steam from my D drive (and still do 99% of the time). This was fine for a long, long time.

Then I got Red Faction: Armageddon and discovered that it wouldn't run from the D drive, no matter what, but if you ran it from the C drive (by creating another Steam install) it worked. The same applied for Saints Row: The Third and Sniper Elite V2, so I have to remember (which is surprisingly difficult) to run a second copy of Steam which just has those installed if I want to play any of these, as a result I haven't played any of those as much as I would if it were as simple as playing anything else.

I've just downloaded the Sleeping Dogs demo and it just hangs on a black screen when it launches; I tried disabling Nvidia Surround, unplugging all controllers and, of course, verifying the cache and none of these were the problem, so I suspect it's because the demo just won't run from the C drive. Even if it's not, it's making me concerned in a more general sense. What if all games start to do this? Will I have to keep copying stuff to and from the C drive? I've gotten into the habit of installing all things at all times, my D drive is packed with about 140GB of games as we speak, and I love it because my internet connection is effectively two yogurt pots joined with string. The whole thing is just saddening me, I don't have enough room to keep stuff installed and I already have to juggle my bulging Origin library of four games by keeping them on the D drive and dragging them over when I want to play them, luckily apart from BF3 I haven't really had the urge to play any of them so it's pretty easy really. Origin won't let you do the symbolic links thing, you see, and BF3 is slow as hell if loaded from my 2TB drive.

Anyway, I guess what I'm asking is;
- Has anyone else had this problem?
- Is it possible that it's just my system and I have a conflict somewhere that can be fixed to allow me to play what I want from whatever drive I damn well please?
- Is there an easy way of copying Steam games to and from a drive? Ideally I'd like a program that has a list of all the games I have and an 'on/off' switch, so it can do all the copying of files and .ncfs and whatever so that when I launch Steam everything is present, correct and as it should be, but I have no idea where to start looking for such a thing.
- Can anyone suggest any alternatives except for swapping the HDD with the SSD?

Thanks guys. I do hope this doesn't suddenly become a huge SSD-redundanting problem.

Adamant Consternation
24-08-2012, 05:42 PM
I'd like to hear some more feedback on this as I've been planning to install my games to a large "off" drive for my next build.

24-08-2012, 05:59 PM
It certainly used to be the case that a lot of software would default to only looking on the C drive and would require messing with to work elsewhere, but I thought that had mostly been eliminated now that having more than one drive was more common.

Have you checked on the steam forums to see if anyone else is having this sort of problem? (Yes, I know they are a hive of scum and villianry, but they and the official game forums are a good place to check to see if your problem is a common occurance and if there is a cheap, quick fix).

24-08-2012, 06:02 PM
I believe it's a Windows registry thing. Windows keeps a memory of where you installed programs so if you move them from that location it has trouble finding them again.

Did you use a program to move your Steam profile to your other drive? If so you may have to uninstall Steam and all your games and start over.

24-08-2012, 11:18 PM
Steam is installed on my D drive and Saints Row: The Third works fine from there. It's been ages since I ran into anything that required an install on C. GameSave Manager (http://www.gamesave-manager.com/) has a feature called Steam Spreader that will move game folders to whatever place you like and symlink/junction the locations for you. I haven't used it, but it might be worth a shot. It is common still for things to require space on your C drive, even if they run or install somewhere else, so you should keep a few gigs free on principle, lest certain things mysteriously fail.

25-08-2012, 12:48 AM
I believe it's a Windows registry thing. Windows keeps a memory of where you installed programs so if you move them from that location it has trouble finding them again.

Did you use a program to move your Steam profile to your other drive? If so you may have to uninstall Steam and all your games and start over.

This. Chances are these games are testing for their install location by looking in the registry. The simplest solution is: copy your various Steam\steamapps folders to some safe place; uninstall all Steam installs; install it on the drive you want all your games to live on; and then copy the aforementioned steamapps folders to that install location. You'd be able to play all your games, but Steam would probably be on a regular HD rather than your shiny SDD.

There are (at least) a couple of ways of having Steam on one drive and the games on another, like using symlinks (http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/using-symlinks-in-windows-vista/) (it's a pain in the arse but it gives you the most fine-grained control), or use something like SteamMover (http://www.traynier.com/software/steammover) (haven't tried it but I've heard nice things) to automate the symlink method.

25-08-2012, 01:09 PM
I hadn't moved anything from anywhere, I installed the games to the D drive directly from the copy of Steam that lives on my D drive and tried running them without touching anything else. In fact I copied them manually to the C drive (moved the game data folder and any relevant .ncfs to the Steam directory on C) to make them work.

As for the Steam forums, it was there that I discovered that Red Faction: Armageddon wouldn't run from anywhere but the C drive, it was then that I tried it with Saints Row 3 because I was completely out of ideas, it was the same developer after all and that did the trick. When Sniper Elite V2 came out I had a problem where the game would crash only if I tried to kill someone, it was bizarre, I could do ANYTHING as long as no one died... Unfortunately it was no Deus Ex so I didn't really have the option of a non-lethal playthrough. After much back and forth between me, Steam forum users and the Rebellion support people I just decided, seeing as I was completely out of ideas, to try moving it to the C drive and it worked.

So is it possible that games just assume they're being installed on the C drive? Weird that Bobtree doesn't have the same issue, though, that would suggest that Red Faction: Armageddon doesn't have to be run from C either given that they're both Volition games. Hmm. Headscratch.

Thanks for all your responses though, guys, I'd love to get to the bottom of this.

25-08-2012, 03:35 PM
Here's a thought, since I noticed that SR3 has a display.ini (with my unusual settings of 1600x1200@75hz) saved in its' install directory (which is unwise): does your windows account have write permission in the install location? If your Steam folder is under "Program Files" or "Program Files (x86)", even in a non-standard location (IIRC it can be set wherever, but don't ask me how), it could be that somehow the games are failing to write config files to their install directories. Have you tried running them as admin? FWIW, my actual Steam folder is D:\Games\Steam with full permissions, and I use an admin account. If I right click the Steam folder and check the properties->security tab, I have "full control" file access set for users.

26-08-2012, 10:49 AM
I'm just comparing the properties of the two Steam directories now, under the general tab they both have read-only checked (which seems odd to my uneducated eyes and brain but if it works then I don't think that's the problem) but only the one in C:\Program Files (x86) has a security tab, D:\Steam doesn't have that tab.

I'm 99% sure I tried running all of the games as admin (definitely tried SEV2 as an admin, about a million times), even though I'm pretty sure my account is the admin account (there aren't any other accounts), as that's the third thing I try if a game doesn't work after verifying the cache and restarting the machine.

I've just realised that Saints Row 3 isn't just one program, though, there's the launcher, DX9 and DX11 versions. I'll try setting all three to admin privileges and see what happens.

Edit: That didn't work for either SR3 or RF:A. The former crashed to desktop before it reached the main menu and the latter crashed after I chose to continue my game from the main menu, so that had no effect at all. Saints Row 3 has managed to write the display.ini file at some point though so it seems to be able to write the config files. I'll try deleting it and see if it makes another one because this might be copied from the install on the C drive.

Edit again: Ah, it didn't re-write the file that time. You might be on to something! I haven't tried adding any of these three games to the Data Execution Prevention safelist, I had to do that to get some old old games running so I'll try that now. Thanks, by the way!

Edit again again: That didn't work either.

Edit again again again: I think I might know what's going on... My 2TB drive is formatted as exFAT because I was using it as a drive for both my Mac and PC for a while, I bet that's what it is. Does that sound plausible to anyone?

26-08-2012, 04:48 PM
2TB drive is formatted as exFAT because I was using it as a drive for both my Mac and PC for a while

That's probably it. Someone found the same issue here (http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2809938.html).

Wikipedia says ExFAT is intended for flash drives, not primary storage, and modern windows games will generally expect to be on NTFS or FAT32. ExFAT can't be converted to NTFS (unlike FAT32), but NTFS may be workable under Mac OS X.

27-08-2012, 04:59 AM
My 2TB drive is formatted as exFAT


I hope you don't have a lot of things on that drive you need because you're going to need to reformat it. Make it NTFS.

27-08-2012, 10:20 AM
Armageddon doesn't
have to be run from C either given that they're both Volition games. Hmm. Headscratch.http://www.liveforexchart.info/g.gif

27-08-2012, 01:22 PM
Yeah the drive is too full for me to copy stuff over, but I need a 2TB drive for my Mac anyway. Well, want, need, same difference. I'll just go buy a new drive, format it NTFS, stick it in the PC, copy everything off the exFAT drive then format that HFS for the Mac. This is the first PC I've ever owned in my life so when I built it I was ignorant of such things as drive formats (in fact I was until earlier in this post) and totally forgot I had it formatted that way. I'm pretty sure it was something to do with limited formatting options when I was using my Mac, so I just kept it exFAT so I could use it with either OS. Oh well, lesson learned!