Fix: Steam Content File Locked

Are you getting the "content file locked" error on Steam but not sure how to fix the issue? Here is a super simple guide that helps you fix the issue.

Experiencing bugs on Steam can be quite frustrating, especially during your free time when all you want to do is play games and not deal with problems.

But, for every problem, there’s a solution.

This guide focuses on the infamous “Content File Locked” error that users experience while updating games.

If you’re dealing with this and don’t know how to fix it, there are multiple tested methods you can try. Find them below.

Related:Fix: Steam Won’t Open

Fix 1: Disable Antivirus Software Temporarily

Antivirus programs are indeed quite useful, but sometimes they mistake a legitimate program, such as Steam, for a threat.

This Reddit post is from a user experiencing the same issue. The solution was to disable AVG, a popular antivirus software that kept “flagging” one of the game files as a potential threat. Simple!

If you are currently using antivirus software, disabling it temporarily until the game updates should fix the problem for you.

Please note that this can also happen with Windows Defender, not just with third-party antivirus programs.

If you are using Windows Defender, here’s how to disable it temporarily.

  1. Open the Search function in the bottom-left corner of your screen in Windows.
  2. Type in “Virus & Threat Protection” and hit Enter.
  3. The main panel will open. Click on Manage settings.
  4. On the top of your screen, you’ll see “Real-time protection.” Disable it.

Now re-open Steam and see if the problem persists. If you manage to install the files successfully, you can re-enable your real-time protection to keep your system secure.

However, if doing that starts causing problems again, you can set up an exclusion in the Windows Security panel for the particular file that’s constantly being flagged. To do so, follow the steps below.

  1. If you already have the Windows Security panel opened, scroll down to the bottom.
  2. Then, under the Exclusions menu, click “Add or remove exclusions.”
  3. Select the files you wish to exclude from Windows Defender’s radar.
  4. You can also add Steam to this list.

The problem should now be fixed.

Fix 2: Run Steam With Administrator Privileges

Multiple users reported that running Steam with Administrator Privileges solved the issue for them. It’s a quick method, so it’s worth trying.

The top comment of this Reddit thread indicates this as a possible solution.

If you’re not sure how to do this, feel free to follow the steps below.

  1. Right-click on your Steam shortcut if it’s already on your Desktop. Select Run as Administrator.
  2. Log into Steam as you normally would and try installing or updating your game again.

If Steam is “pinned” on your Start Menu instead, you can do this.

  1. Open your start menu and find Steam.
  2. Right-click it and hover over “more” with your cursor, then select Run as Administrator.

Combining this with the previous method should hopefully help you get rid of the problem. If it doesn’t, there are other methods you can try.

Fix 3: Change Your Game Files Location

This is one of the more complicated solutions, but it has the highest chances of working. So here’s what you need to do.

  1. Open the Steam client and log into your account.
  2. In the top-right corner, click on Steam and then Settings.
  3. On the left side, click Downloads and then Steam Library Folders.
  4. Select Add Library Folder and create a new one with your preferred location.

Now comes the part where you need to delete a few files, but have no worries since your save files and game content will remain untouched.

  1. Close Steam completely (not just by clicking the “X” in the top-right corner).
  2. Navigate to your Steam directory. The default location is C:\Program Files\Steam.
  3. Delete everything in that folder except UserData and SteamApps.
  4. Move the UserData and SteamApps folders to the folder you created during Step 4.
  5. Open Steam and log into your account. Try updating your games.

The problem should now be fixed. But, if it isn’t, the following few extra steps should help.

  1. Close Steam once again. Open your newly created folder (the one you made during step 4).
  2. Move the SteamApps folder somewhere else. Desktop is a viable destination.
  3. Uninstall Steam from your PC. Do not delete your SteamApps folder.
  4. Download the exe and install Steam in the folder you created during step 4.
  5. Move your SteamApps folder to the location where you just installed Steam.  
  6. Launch the app and log into your account.
  7. Verify the integrity of game cache for the title you want to install or update.

You can learn more about verifying the integrity of game cache from this official Steam article covering the topic.  

If this method doesn’t help either, resetting Winsock may be the solution. So check the following section to learn more.

Fix 4: Reset Winsock

Resetting Winsock helped many users overcome the “Content File Locked” error on Steam. It’s easy to do and most certainly worth a try.

Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Press Windows + R on your keyboard. In the box that comes up, type “cmd” and hit Enter.
  2. You are now in the Command Prompt. Type “netsh winsock reset” and hit Enter.
  3. Launch Steam and try updating your games. The problem should now be fixed.

For more information on what this does take a look at the following section.  

What Is Winsock, And How Does Resetting It Help?

Simply put, resetting your Winsock will set important network settings to their defaults. There’s no need for concern; doing so is completely safe.

This article states that resetting Winsock can solve an issue when you can’t view certain web pages or download files despite having a stable Wi-Fi connection.  

Conclusion

One of the main use cases of Steam is to let users update their favorite games with just a click of a button, and sometimes even automatically. However, the “Content File Locked” error makes things a bit more difficult than they need to be.

Now that you know how to prevent this from happening, you should be able to keep your library up-to-date without any further issues.

Related Reads

Fix: Steam Missing File Privileges
Bojan Veselinovikj

Bojan is a video-game developer and a tech enthusiast. Combining these two passions allow him to keep you informed on everything that's new in this fast-paced digital world.