Fix: Steam Content File is Locked

Sometimes when updating a steam game, an error comes forward. The window displays:

An error occurred while updating [game] (Content file locked)

This means that Steam can’t write update files to the hard disk. There may be many solutions for this error. The most effective one is to uninstall Steam and all the local game content and reinstall it from scratch. Although this worked for many users, it is a pretty time-consuming task and it also consumes a large amount of data. Before resorting to hard measures as mentioned above, we will try troubleshooting for small problems which may be involved.

Solution 1: Check Antivirus

In many situations, your antivirus may be causing the problem. It is not unusual for it to mark Steam files as potential viruses and quarantine them.  Below are listed different ways to disable the antivirus until you can update your game.

McAfee Antivirus

McAfee has no way to exclude certain files from its real time scanning. The only way is to disable the antivirus entirely until the game is updated. To do this, open McAfee and select “Virus and Spyware Protection”. Here you find the option of “Real-Time Scanning”. Click that option and turn it off.

Then follow the following instruction to verify integrity of game files.

  1. Restart your computer and relaunch Steam.
  2. Head over to the library section and right click on the game which is giving you problems.
  3. Click on its properties and select the local files tab.
  4. Click the verify integrity of game files button and Steam will verify that game in a few minutes.

Hopefully, after performing the above steps, your Steam won’t give any issue.


NOD32 has the tendency to mark some application files as malicious and will most probably quarantine it. This often results in the error while updating a game. Browse to your current Steam directory and copy the address. The default location for the Steam directory is

C:\Program File\Steam\SteamApps\common

After copying the address open ESET NOD32 and paste the location in exclude from real time scanning.

Follow the ‘verify integrity of game files’ method listed above and you will be all good.

Kaspersky AV

Kaspersky may sometimes flag Steam as an intruder and disable it from making any changes to the hard drive. To fix this, head over to ‘threads and exclusions’. Navigate to ‘trusted zone’ and add Steam.exe as a trusted application. Remember to change the settings to Do not restrict application activity as well as Do not scan opened files.

Follow the ‘verify integrity of game files’ method listed above and restart your computer.

Solution 2: Reset Winsock

Another issue that may cause the failure to update is the Winsock catalog. We can execute the command to reset it and in turn, it will rollback to the default settings.

  1. Press the ⊞ Win (windows) + R key to bring up the run window (make sure to run it as administrator).
  2. In the dialogue bar type ‘netsh winsock reset’ (excluding the quotes).
  3. Execute the command and restart your computer.

Solution 3: Repair Corrupt Files

If these two methods don’t work for you, we can troubleshoot which file went corrupt/missing and try re-download the entire file again.

  1. Exit steam and navigate to your Steam directory (C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam). If you have chosen a custom location for the installation, navigate there.
  2. Move to the folder ‘logs’ and open ‘txt’.
  3. Move to the bottom of the text file and search for recent errors.

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)

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

  1. Navigate to the root folder of the mod, in this case, it is 570371714. It has no specific file size as the root folders of different games may vary.
  2. Restart steam and move to the downloads folder. Here you will notice that Steam will be asking for an update for the game. Update the necessary files and you’ll be good to go.

Solution 4: Relocate Steam Installation and Game Files

If the simpler methods didn’t work for you, we have to relocate Steam Installation and Game files. This method is broken down into two parts. In the first part, we try to relocate Steam and hope that it will launch and run as expected. If during the launch, an error occurs, we have to reinstall Steam. The entire process is listed below. Please note that any interruption during the copying process may corrupt the files hence you would have to resort to reinstalling the client again.

  1. Navigate to your Steam client and click settings.
  2. Select ‘Downloads’ and click on ‘Steam Library Folders’.
  3. Click on ‘Add Library Folder’ and select a new path where you want Steam to be located.
  4. This will define a future path for all the installations to take place. Now we will move to moving existing Steam files to the path you selected.
  5. Exit the Steam client.
  6. Navigate to your current Steam directory (default is: C: \Program Files \Steam).
  7. Delete all the files and folders except SteamApps and UserData folders. Also don’t delete exe.
  8. Cut all the folders and paste them to the new directory you decided above.
  9. Launch Steam and re-login.

If you encounter any problems while moving the steam folder or after launching it, follow the steps listed below.

  1. Close your Steam.
  2. Browse to the location where you relocated Steam.
  3. Relocate the ‘SteamApps’ folder from that directory to your desktop.
  4. Uninstall Steam (this is done to remove your old Steam settings from your PC).
  5. Install Steam again to the initial location that you selected.
  6. Move the SteamApps folder in the new Steam directory. This will copy all of your game content, your saved games and settings.
  7. Launch Steam and enter your credentials.
  8. Verify integrity of Steam game files and you will be able to play

Solution 5: Check Disk Scan

It is possible that the Hard Drive that contains the game installation has been corrupted or contains bad sectors. If a Hard Drive has “Bad” sectors it slows down and certain areas of the hard drive can’t be accessed. Therefore, you can try to run a “Disc Check” scan to check the drive for bad sectors.  For that:

  1. Press the “Windows” + “R” keys simultaneously.
  2. Type in “cmd” in the dialogue box and press “Enter“.
    Typing in “cmd”
  3. Type in “chkdsk c: /f” and press “Enter” to initiate it.
    Initiating the Disc check
  4. PressY” to confirm the scheduling of a disk check scan.
  5. Wait for the Disk Check scan to complete and check to see if the issue persists.

Solution 6: Run as Administrator

In some cases, steam requires special permissions to access certain folders and files. If the special permissions are not granted it may be blocked by the Windows from accessing the folder and the “Content File is Locked” message might show up. Therefore, in this step, we will be running “Steam” as Administrator. For that:

  1. Rightclick on the steam icon and select the “Properties” option.
    Right-clicking on the steam icon and selecting “Properties”.
  2. Click on the “Compatibility” tab and check the “Run as Administrator” option.
    Clicking on “Compatibility” and checking the “Run as Administrator” box
  3. Click on “Apply” and then on “OK“.
  4. Run Steam and check to see if the issue persists.

Kamil Anwar

Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.