How to Fix Steam Content File Locked Error?

You might have experienced an error when updating a game on Steam which said:

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

Steam Content File Locked Error Fix

What this basically means is that Steam is unable to write its update files on to your PC’s hard disk.

The most effective solution for this issue is uninstalling Steam and all its local game content, and then doing a fresh install.

However, this uses a lot of data and takes a long time.

7 Ways To Fix Steam Content File Locked Error

Before resorting to this fix, there are some others which you might like to try. Let’s take a look at them.

Fix #1: Repair Any Corrupt System Files

Download Restoro and run it. This will scan for any corrupt system files.

If there are any which are missing or corrupt, you can repair them and then see if the issue has been fixed.

Else continue with the next solution.

Fix #2: Check Your Antivirus

It might be your antivirus program which is causing the error. Sometimes an antivirus program will flag Steam files as possible malware and put them in quarantine.

Here are some ways you can disable the antivirus from running until you can get your game updated:

Kaspersky AV

Steam is sometimes flagged up on Kaspersky and then it will be unable to make any changes to the hard drive. If this happens, go to ‘threats and exclusions’ on Kaspersky, then go to ‘trusted zone’ where you can add Steam.exe as an application you trust.

Also make sure the ‘do not scan opened files’ and ‘do not restrict application’ options are checked.

Now you need to verify the game files integrity by following these steps:

  1. Restart the PC
  2. Launch Steam
  3. In the library section, right click on the problematic game
  4. Click on Properties
  5. Choose the local files tab
  6. Click ‘verify integrity of game files’ and wait several minutes
  7. Check to see if the game will update now

McAfee Antivirus

There is no way to exclude specific files from a real-time scan using McAfee. Instead, you will need to disable the entire antivirus program and then update your Steam game, before relaunching the antivirus.

  1. Open McAfee and click on ‘Virus and Spyware Protection’.
  2. Click ‘Real Time Scanning’ to disable it.
  3. Follow the instructions above to verify game files integrity, then restart your PC.


This antivirus typically marks specific application files as suspicious and usually quarantines them. When this happens, you will get an error message while trying to update your game.

  1. Go to your Steam directory and copy the address. This should be at: C:\Program File\Steam\SteamApps\common
  2. Now open ESET NOD32 and go to the exclude from real time scans part.
  3. Paste in the address, then follow the above instructions about how to verify game file integrity.

Also read: What is Steamworks Common Redistributables?

Fix #3: Winsock Reset

The Winsock catalog might be responsible for the update failure. To roll the system back to default settings, you need to execute the reset command, following these steps:

  1. Click on the Windows key and R to get the run window (make sure you are running it as an administrator)
  2. Type this in the dialog box: netsh winsock reset
  3. Press Enter then restart your PC

Fix #4: Repair Any Corrupt Files

Although we checked for corrupt system files in fix #1, it is worth checking for any other corrupt files too. That way you can find out which file is missing or corrupt and reinstall it.

  1. Exit Steam
  2. Go to your Steam directory which is either at C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam or wherever you chose to put it
  3. Go to the folder logs
  4. Open ‘txt’
  5. Search for recent errors near the bottom of the file
  6. Now go to the mod’s root folder. The file size can vary so don’t look for a specific size.
  7. Update the files and see whether the issue is solved.

Fix #5: Put Steam Game Files and Installation Elsewhere

If you have made it this far, and none of the above solutions worked, you will have to relocate your Steam installation as well as the game files.

The first thing to do is relocate Steam and see if it launches and runs correctly. If not, then it will have to be reinstalled.

Remember that interrupting the file copying process might result in a corrupted file error and you would have to start over.

  1. Go to your Steam client
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Click on Downloads then Steam Library Folders
  4. Click Add Library Folder
  5. Choose a new path where you want to put Steam
  6. This sets up a new path for every installation
  7. Exit Steam
  8. Go to C:\Program Files\Steam or wherever you have Steam installed
  9. Delete every folder and file apart from .exe, UserData and SteamApps
  10. Cut the folders then paste them into your new directory path
  11. Launch Steam then enter your credentials

If you are still having trouble it, continue with the following steps:

  1. Close Steam
  2. Go to the path where you relocated it
  3. Move the SteamApps folder from there on to your desktop
  4. Uninstall Steam
  5. Reinstall Steam to the first location you chose
  6. Relocate the SteamApps folder in the new directory, to copy all your saved games, game content and settings
  7. Launch Steam and log in
  8. Verify the integrity of your game files, and you should now be able to play

Fix #6: Check Disk Scan

It could be the case that your hard drive, where the game installation files are, has bad sectors or has been corrupted. Bad sectors mean parts of the hard drive can’t be accessed, or are slowed down.

You might like to run a Disk Check scan to find out whether your hard drive does have any bad sectors:

  1. Press the Windows key and R
  2. In the dialogue box type: cmd
  3. Press enter
  4. Type this then press enter: chkdsk c: /f
  5. Click Y to confirm the disk check scan schedule and wait for it to complete
  6. See whether the problem is still occurring

Also read: How To Fix Steam Client Bootstrapper High CPU

Fix #7: Run as Administrator

Steam might need specific permissions to get to some files and folders. If these are not granted, Windows might block Steam from being able to access those folders.

If this happens you will get the Content File is Locked error message on your screen. To solve this, you need to run Steam with Administrator privileges:

  1. Right click on Steam
  2. Click on Properties
  3. Click on Compatibility
  4. Toggle the Run as Administrator box to on
  5. Click Apply then OK
  6. See whether this has fixed the error.
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