Steam Content file locked is a popular error among Windows users. This error mostly occurs when you try to update a game.

But for some cases, this error occurs for a specific game; for some, it will occur for all games in the library.

So regardless of the case, this issue is annoying and will prevent you from updating your game to the latest patches.

The issue means that Steam cannot access/modify the local files inside the game folder. This might be because of various issues from antivirus to corrupted filesystem.

So in this article, we are going to provide a solution to the issue. These fixes make no mess up anything if followed correctly. Let’s begin.

Best Ways to Fix Content File Locked Error on Steam

Follow these fixes one by one to fix the “steam content file locked” error on Windows 11/10 PC.

1. Run Steam as an Admin

  1. Right-click on the Steam shortcut, and click on Properties. 
  2. Under the Compatibility tab, put a tick mark on “Run this program as an administrator.”
  3. Hit Apply and hit OK.
  4. Otherwise, you can click start, search for Steam, right-click on it and select “Run as admin”, but this runs as admin for once.
  5. Now try opening Steam and updating the game. If this fix did not work, you might proceed to the next one.

2. Verify the Integrity of Local Files

Now the game files may be altered externally, say because of malware or antivirus software. Hence we have to verify its integrity. To verify the integrity of local game files,

  1. Open Steam and Open Library.
  2. Now right-click on the game and click on Properties.
  3. Under the Local Files tab, click on Verify Local Files.

Since this will fix or repair any corrupted files by comparing your local files to the files on the server, let it complete. Upon completion, try updating the game and check if the error occurs again.

3. Flush Steam Configs

Flushing steam cache files will remove any redundant files and hopefully will fix the issue. Hence, to flush caches in Steam, follow these steps.

Firstly open Run by pressing the Windows key and R at the same time. Alternatively, you can right-click on the start menu (or press Windows and X keys at the same time) and click on Run from the list.

  1. Now type in steam://flushconfig and hit enter.
  2. Now let it run, and Steam will start updating itself first.

Once this gets finished, check if you can update the game without the content file locked error popping out.

4. Check the Disk for Errors

If there are some issues with your Hard disk (HDD), it might have caused the Content file locked error to appear. So, to scan and fix errors on HDD, you can use the built-in tool in Windows, and there is no need for any third-party tools. Follow these steps to scan and fix the issue:

  1. Firstly right, click on start and open cmd as admin. Alternatively, you can use the Run box by entering cmd into the box and pressing the enter key.
  2. Now on cmd, type sfc /scannow and hit enter.sfc scan
  3. Let it complete, as this operation would take several minutes, depending upon the size of the drive.

Once this phase completes, you can run the fix steps 1, 2, and 3 again just in case and check if the problem is solved.

5. Disable Antivirus and Controlled folder access

Antivirus may be causing this error. So, we have to temporarily disable the antivirus software and check if it works. Although the procedure will change based on the software you use.

But basically, you can disable it by right-clicking on the icon on the taskbar and clicking Disable Protection to disable real-time protection or even Quit. Once you do this, go to Steam and try to update the game.

Disable Antivirus and Controlled folder access

So, in Windows 10, there is a controlled folder access option to prevent ransomware from modifying files without authorization.

So, if you have enabled controlled folder access, either you have to disable it temporarily or add the Steam program to the exclusion or allowed app list. To do so,

  1. Click on Start, and search “Controlled,” from the results, click on Controlled folder access.Controlled folder access
  2. From the settings, click on Allow an app through controlled folder access.
  3. Click on Add an allowed app and select Browse for all apps.
  4. Now navigate to the location where you’ve installed Steam and select steam.exe.Add an allowed app
  5. Now check if you can update the game from Steam. (Note: Sometimes, the game folder’s ownership might cause an issue. You can fix it by taking ownership of the folder. But mostly, this is a rare case.)
  6. Go to the game folder, right-click on it and click on Properties, click on Security and click on Advanced.
  7. From the tab, click on Change Owner if you see another name instead of your name under the owner, follow the instructions, and take ownership of the folder.
  8. Now reboot your PC, and check.

6. Reset Netsh Winsock

Winsock transmission connection between Windows network software and network service. Resetting could help establish a proper connection with Steam’s connection with system to get rid of the Steam content file-locked error.

  1. Press the Windows + R button, type CMD, and hit the Enter button.Open CMD
  2. Now type the below command and hit the Enter button.
    netsh winsock reset
  3. netsh winsock resetAfter executing the command, Restart your Windows.

7. Stop Steam’s Game from Task Manager

There is a chance that running a Steam game in real-time won’t help unlock the content file while updating. Consequently, many users have resolved the problem by stopping Steam’s game and the app itself from the Task Manager.

  1. Right-click on the Windows button and select Task Manager.Task Manager
  2. Right-click on the game you’re playing, and select End task.Stop the game you're playing
  3. Just like the game End Task Steam client as well.
  4. After a while, open the Steam client.
  5. Now start updating the game.

8. Reinstall Steam

If none of these mentioned troubleshooting methods aren’t working for you. Reinstalling the Steam client is another method that you should try. Here is what you need to follow:

  1. Click the Windows button, search for Control Panel, and open it.Control Panel
  2. Then click on Program and Features.
  3. Find Steam, right-click on it, and select Uninstall.
  4. Now visit Steam download page, download the executable file, and install it to use again.install steam on PC

From Editor’s Desk

So, to sum up, these are the steps you can try out to fix the Content Locked error on Steam. As you can see, these steps are easy and will not cause any loss of files or data.

However, if nothing works, you can try moving the game to a different folder or reinstall the game in another location. But this requires additional bandwidth consumption. Nonetheless, the above-mentioned steps should work without any issues.