Steam Backup Tool: There Is Not Enough Free Disk Space to Run Steam.

steamlogobackuptoolWhen I first tried Steam’s Backup Tool, I was pretty impressed. The tool allows you to backup your games through a Steam interface, and what it does beyond a simple copy-paste is this: it compresses the game files, but also allows you to split the compressed files so that they can fit on multiple CDs or DVDs. It also allows for backing up multiple games in one shot, housing them all within the same set of CDs or DVDs.

I liked the concept, and so I backed up my Left 4 Dead files to a DVD using this method. To my surprise, when I tried to restore the game afterwards, I encountered this error message:

There is not enough free disk space to run Steam.

There is not enough free disk space to run Steam.

I executed the “steambackup.exe” file straight off the DVD, and got that error right after clicking “Restore Left 4 Dead backup”. Considering I had at least 40 gigs free on my drive, I immediately started to suspect that the Steam Backup Tool was trying to install the files on the DVD, which would never work.


To get it working, I had to copy the files from the DVD to my hard drive. When I ran the “steambackup.exe” from there, it actually worked fine – proving my theory.

I’m a bit surprised Valve would allow such a bug to exist, especially considering how easy it is to encounter. They could of averted this by simply asking the user which drive to restore the backup to.

Update: It seems this only happens when you try to restore the backup on Vista and Windows 7 machines – XP  works fine. Thanks to Morph for the tip.

Update 2: Better solution is available in the comments section. Take a look at the posts by “Chwynn”.

See Also

Forum post: There is not enough free disk space to run Steam.

  • Vinny

    Thank you very much. I was wondering why it wouldn’t let me install my backup.

  • Morph

    Thank you man. But as I see, this problem only happens with Windows Vista, in XP there aren’t problems like that.

    • Happy to help. Also, thanks for the heads up about it happening in Vista only – I’ll update the post with that info.

  • Morph

    Oh, and another thing, I installed Windows 7 yesterday, and it got the same error for the backups, so isn’t just Vista.

    • Did you have User Account Control enabled in both cases? I did. That might be the reason it fails both Win7 and Vista – maybe it doesn’t prompt for administrative rights when it should. I’ll update the post tonight with this new info.

  • Ale

    I had that too on Vista 64-bit, UAC disabled.

  • Daniel

    i have Windows XP same problem.

  • Jordan

    Im so fkn pissed right now dont ask.

    How do i get to load a 2nd disk if it cant recognise it? its on hard drive and i dont know whattodo

    • Just to make sure I understand this correctly:

      You made multiple backups across two DVDs. You copied the first DVD contents to your hard drive, and ran it from there. It eventually asked for the second DVD, and when you put it in, it says "There is not enough free disk space to run Steam", and fails. That means you currently have the contents of both DVDs on your hard drive, and you need a way to tell the first backup program that the continuation is in another folder.

      Is this correct?

  • BigDaddy

    In Windows 7 Ultimate same thing happen, but I do execute steambackup.exe in Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode and run like administrator option and installation was fine

  • Gamer_Washington

    Great news! I found a solution! And its so ridiculous…you wont believe it
    and im using windows 7 i'll try to explain
    my instructions are for files archived on a hard drive. i have not tested it with a DVD.

    for archived games with only ***ONE*** disk worth of data:
    1)go to the specific game's folder you are interested in
    2)go into "Disk_1"
    3)right click on the "steambackup" file
    4)select properties
    5)click on compatability
    6)check the box "run this program as an administrator"
    7)check the box "run this program in compatibility mode for"
    8) Use the drop down menu from "run this program in compatibility mode for" to select Windows XP service pack 2
    9) Click "APPLY" button at the bottom of the window ONCE.

    10) double click the "steambackup" file (this is the one you just modified)

    11) it should work fine follow the prompts instructions from there.

  • Gamer_Washington

    OK many of you probably have games that require MULTIPLE files to complete the backup?!

    this can be fixed im glad to say.

    1) go into the folder that has the specific game's data, it will probably have these files

    *in some cases you will only see two "disks" this is fine.

    2) Create a NEW folder beside these and name it "Backup"
    * it is important to have it with a capital B and that it is properly named "Backup"

    3)Drag all the
    folders into the "Backup" folder

    4)Now go into the backup folder, then go into the "Disk_1" folder

    5) in here you will see a file called "steambackup"

    6) Now you will have to modify this file. USE MY INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE ABOVE POST TO DO SO.

    7) Enjoy !!

    how i discovered: i figures this out by looking around in the main steam folder on my C: harddrive. I realized that when you make a backup of your games, be default it makes a folder called "Backup" where it wants to put these files.
    In my situation I had forced steam to send all my backups to a separate physical harddrive, which must have screwed up its natural way of organizing the files.
    The great news it all you have to do is these tricks and you should be able to install your games from a SEPARATE hard drive, and never have to burn them to a DVD. Which is my preference cause steam distributes all these games digitally anyways, and i dont like to have a pile of physical DVDs.

    Game on fellas!

  • Gamer_Washington

    For people having trouble installing compressed steam game backup from a dvd…

    Well i havent actually used a DVD yet but i think i know how

    you will have to create a folder inside your main steam directory.

    name this new file "Backup"

    then copy all your files from ALL dvds (if you have multiple) into this directory.

    make sure that you only group the files by individual game (you will probably have to create your own sub folder called "game's name here"
    containing folders

    then follow some of my tips from my first post to modify the "steambackup" file within JUST the "Disk_1" folder.

    this should enable you to install your game

    please note: on a brand new Steam install (say you just reformatted your computer or something) the main steam folder might NOT have the "Backup" folder. so you have to create it

    i have had sucess doing this with files that were on a second hard drive (copying them to my C: drive's steam folder. However i havent tried it with DVD yet. Just a note.

    *note to the admin: feel free to contact me with questions, or post an improved version of my comments, with better instructions. thanks

    • Thanks for taking the time to write this. I'll try your steps later this week, and will then likely add an improved version of your instructions to the post, as you offered. I'll also, naturally, credit you for them. For the time being, I've added a note so people know to check the comments for your solution.

      Right now, I will try to contact Jordan who commented above, as your instructions may be the answer to his problems.

      Thanks again!

  • Mirtrius

    Hey, I read washingtons steps and if you use windows 7 I found a much faster way to restore your files on disk.

    Simply right click the disk, open, then find the steambackup.exe, right click then click troubleshoot compatability.
    Follow the steps, then go to run in compatability mode (windows xp SP2) then click next and then select run like this every time.
    Once you do that, it should work for you without copying files to disk.

  • Chwynn

    This is probably a quicker and easer solution to the above:

    Make a shortcut to the steambackup.exe from the DVD on your desktop, right click on the shortcut and click properties, then change the "start in:" box to a location with readwrite access, like C:, for example.

    The issue is caused because the steambackup.exe tries to extract the contents of the archive descriptor to a location which would exist in windows XP, but does not exist in Windows Vista or Windows 7, so it defaults to extract to the current directory.
    The solution above changes the current directory that the program defaults to to one with readwrite access. No files will remain in the location you specify, its just extracted, then read by your steam installation, then deleted in less than a second.

    I have only tested the above solution with single-disk backups, but in theory it should work fine with any amount of disks.

    Let me know if this was any use to you guys.

  • Chwynn

    Damn, I forgot to mention:

    In Windows 7 (not sure about Vista or not) You cant make a shortcut by right-clicking and dragging from a writeable DVD to another location (Neither can you Alt+Click and drag). So to make a shortcut, for example on your desktop:

    Right click on your desktop, then hover over "New" then click shortcut, and in the path box put the location of the steambackup.exe file in your DVD drive. Click next a couple of times and finish, and the shortcut will appear.

    Then just set the "Start In:" box to a writeable location (as described in the previous post), and you're golden.

  • Databasic

    Since XP onwards the "right click" menu has the option "Send to -> Desktop (create shortcut)"

    This saves any typing.

  • nthGuest

    Chwynn that's fantastic… saved me a lot of headaches. Didnt wanna copy it all to my hdd not only is it pointless but it's also slow and it causes excess wear on the drive. Thanks for the "Start In" location tip!

  • Chwynn

    No problem, glad to help.

    There is also the added bonus that you can use the same shortcut for any steam backup you make, as long as you only use one DVD drive. If you need more through instructions, or whatever, you can e-mail me at my username

  • Chwynn solution works. thanks !(i'm installing CoD 6 MW2 from 3DVDs)

  • Simon

    There is another very easy solution. Open a command line (type cmd in the input field of the start menu). Switch to your hard drive (e.g. type "C:<Enter>"). Now type "D:steambackup.exe<Enter>" where D: is your DVD drive letter.
    That worked for me.

  • Newb

    Thanks for the easy and quite obvious (although it didn't come to me) solution.