Steam is the heart of millions of PC gamers. Despite having the largest collection of games, it runs pretty smooth. However, at times, the gaming client runs into a host of problems that users keep reporting from time to time. One of the common Steam errors is “content file locked”. The error mainly arises when trying to update a game but fails. If the same Steam error is bothering you, don’t worry. In this guide, I will share with you 10 effective solutions to throw the error out of your PC.
The Steam “content file locked” error is not a new error. If you search for it on popular forums such as Reddit, you’ll come to know that the issue existed a few years ago, and still troubles a lot of players. It’s always painful seeing a Steam error not allowing you to update the game. You wouldn’t want to play an older version as the latest version is optimized for the best performance and stability. It could bring in-game goodies as well.
Before you move on to the troubleshooting methods, it’s important to understand the meaning of the “content file locked” error and the reasons behind it. It will help you in effective troubleshooting.
- What the Steam Content File Locked Error Means and Why It Occurs?
- 11 Solutions to Fix Steam Content File Locked Error
- Solution 1: Launch Steam as an Administrator
- Solution 2: Close All Steam Processes
- Solution 3: Reset Winsock
- Solution 4: Disable All Antivirus Software
- Solution 5: Clear Steam Download Cache
- Solution 6: Verify Integrity of Game Files
- Solution 7: Perform a Disk Scan
- Solution 8: Delete Downloaded Update Files
- Solution 9: Relocate the Game Folder
- Solution 10: Delete Game Files and Install It Again
- Solution 11: Reinstall Steam
- Wrapping It Up
What the Steam Content File Locked Error Means and Why It Occurs?
The error simply means that Steam is not able to modify files on your PC. When you try to update a game, Steam downloads files from the servers and updates them on your computer. If Steam does not have the write permission, it can’t modify the files and the update process would fail and you may end up getting the “content file locked” error.
While missing write permission seems to be the main reason for the Steam content file locked error, it could also arise when the drive (where Steam files are saved) is running low on storage. Even when the game files are missing or corrupted, the error may surface on your screen.
Now that you have a deeper understanding of the problem, let’s apply the troubleshooting measures to keep the error out of your PC.
11 Solutions to Fix Steam Content File Locked Error
Often a minor system glitch causes problems with Steam, which can be avoided by restarting the device. Before moving to slightly complex solutions, I want you to restart your PC just to make sure there are no glitches or network issues triggering the content file locked error.
If restarting your PC did not work, try the following solutions one by one until you find the one that works in your favor.
Solution 1: Launch Steam as an Administrator
If Steam is throwing the “content file locked” error because of some missing permissions, launching it as an administrator should fix the issue. When you run a program as an administrator, it has all the permissions to modify, delete, or add files.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Make sure Steam is closed.
- Right-click on the Steam icon on your computer.
- Select the “Properties” option.
- Go to the “Compatibility” tab.
- Check the “Run this program as an administrator” box.
- Tap on “Apply” and click “OK” to save changes.
Launch Steam and try updating a game to check if the problem is sorted out.
Solution 2: Close All Steam Processes
Often closing all Steam processes and launching it again resolves the problem. When you close the app by clicking the red cross icon, it keeps running in the background. To close it completely, you need to close all Steam-related processes from Task Manager.
Here’s how to do it:
- Press the Windows+ X buttons together and select Task Manager.
- To see all Steam processes, type Steam in the search box at the top.
- Right-click on a Steam process and select the End task.
- Repeat step-3 for the remaining Steam tasks.
Before you try updating the game again, restart your computer.
Solution 3: Reset Winsock
If you can’t update the games on Steam, there could be corrupted or misconfigured network settings in the Winsock catalog. For those uninitiated, Winsock is a programming interface that allows software such as Steam to communicate over the internet. If there are incorrect network configurations or network-related errors, Steam may not update or download a game.
Resetting the Winsock restores the Winsock catalog to its default settings, which could fix the network issues and Steam’s content file locked error.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Press Windows + X and select Terminal (Admin). If you can’t find this option, tap on Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin).
2. Type the following command and press Enter:
netsh winsock reset
3. Restart your computer for the changes to apply.
If you have manually configured IP addresses or DNS servers, they will be reset to their default settings. You’ll need to reconfigure them after Winsock reset.
Solution 4: Disable All Antivirus Software
Your antivirus software could be blocking the incoming connection to Steam. If so, Steam can’t download updates. To check if your antivirus is causing issues with Steam, disable it temporarily and try updating the game on Steam.
It’s not that Steam and your antivirus can’t stay together. You can simply whitelist Steam in your antivirus software. By whitelisting Steam, you are telling your antivirus software that Steam is a safe application. It won’t block incoming connections from Steam servers.
Do not forget to enable your antivirus software. Otherwise, you may unintentionally put your computer at risk.
Solution 5: Clear Steam Download Cache
When you download or update a game on Steam, it is initially stored in the download cache to optimize the installation process. If there are cache-related issues, it can result in update failure and you may see the content file locked error.
Try clearing the Steam download cache and see how Steam behaves afterward.
- Launch the Steam client on your Windows.
- Tap on Steam in the top-left corner.
- Select Settings from the drop-down options.
- Go to the Downloads tab.
- Click the Clear Cache button next to the Clear Download Cache option.
- Restart Steam.
Solution 6: Verify Integrity of Game Files
If the game files are corrupted or missing, the update installation might fail and you may end up getting the content file locked error. Thankfully, Steam has a file repair option. Just tap on the option and Steam will take care of the rest.
- Launch the Steam app on your PC.
- Go to the LIBRARY tab.
- Right-click on a game and select the Properties option.
- Go to the Installed Files tab in the left sidebar.
- Tap on Verify integrity of game files.
If there were missing or corrupted game files, they should have been fixed or restored. Relaunch Steam and try updating your game.
Solution 7: Perform a Disk Scan
If you can’t download or update any game on Steam, it’s possible that the hard drive (on which the game folder is located) is corrupted. If the disk is corrupted, you can’t update the game.
Using the Command Prompt you can check if there are any issues with the hard drive. Here’s how to do it:
- Type “cmd” in the search box at the bottom.
- Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
- On the command window, type “chkdsk c: /f” and press Enter.
- Press “Y” to schedule a disk scan.
Wait for the disk scan to complete and check the result.
Solution 8: Delete Downloaded Update Files
The update may have encountered an error and failed. The unfinished download may still be located on your computer, and it can cause duplicate files and other kinds of errors, which can result in the content locked folder error.
You should delete the unfinished downloads from your computer. Close Steam, go to C: > Program Files (x86) > Steam > steamapps > downloading, and delete the folder from this location. Steam should be able to smoothly update your games.
Solution 9: Relocate the Game Folder
If the above solutions did not work, try moving the game to another drive. Make sure the new drive has sufficient storage.
- Launch the Steam client on your PC.
- Tap on Steam in the top-left corner and select Settings.
- Go to the Storage tab.
- Tap on the “+” icon.
- Select a new location and click Add.
- Tap on the previous game storage location.
- Check the box next to the game and click Move.
- Select the new drive you added in step-5 and click Move.
Close Steam and launch it again. Now, try updating the game to check if the problem is fixed.
Solution 10: Delete Game Files and Install It Again
If you can’t update a specific game, probably there’s an issue with game files. If you have already verified the integrity of game files but the issue persists, you need to remove the game files from your computer and install the game again.
Close Steam. Now, go to C: > Program Files (x86) > Steam > steamapps > common, right-click on the game folder, and select Delete.
Now, launch Steam and tap on LIBRARY. If the game is still there, right-click on it and select Uninstall. Click Uninstall again to remove the game.
Once you have completely removed the game from your PC, download it again. The latest version of the game will be installed.
Solution 11: Reinstall Steam
If you tried the aforementioned solutions but to no avail, try reinstalling Steam as the last resort before reaching out to Steam support for further help.
[Note: Reinstalling Steam will remove all download games from your PC. You’ll need to download them again. If you are spending a lot of your internet data, go ahead and apply the steps.]
To remove Steam, follow these steps:
- Type Control Panel in the Windows search box and press Enter.
- Set View by to Small icons.
- Tap on Programs and Features.
- Right-click on Steam and select Uninstall.
- Click Uninstall again to confirm.
Restart your PC. Now, go to the Steam download page and click INSTALL STEAM to download the latest version of the app on your PC.
Wrapping It Up
Updating the games is crucial for optimal performance and stability. It also fixes various bugs and issues. But it gets disappointing when Steams throws the content file locked error. Fortunately, there are multiple fixes to this issue which we have discussed in this article. Apply them on your PC and get rid of this annoying error.