Steam Shared Library Locked – 8 Fixes to try

Are you looking for a way to fix the “Shared Library Locked” error message on Steam?

Steam Shared Library, officially named Steam Family Sharing, is a feature that allows Steam users to play one another’s games while earning their own Steam achievements and keeping their own game progress. Once enabled, you can access another user games library using Steam library filter.

Steam Shared Library

In this article, we will show you a few quick way to fix “An error occurred while updating \<game-title> (shared library locked) error.

shared library locked message on Steam

What “Shared Library Locked” Error Actually Means

The “Shared Library Locked” error usually indicates that someone else is using your Steam library.

Steam Shared Library(Steam Family Sharing) has certain restrictions: only 5 accounts can be shared at the same time on up to 10 different computers, and a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time.

In other words, the “Shared Library” is automatically locked once one of the shared Steam user enter the game. Any other user who tries to access the game after that will be greeted with “An error occurred while updating \ (shared library locked) error shown above.

But what if you’re sure no one is playing the game other than yourself? Read on to find some possible solutions.

What Causes “Steam Shared Library Locked”

  • Firewall misconfiguration: The firewall is capable of filtering and blocking internet traffic, which could be the reason for the “Shared Library Locked” error message. So disabling the firewall or adding an exclusion for Steam in both the public and private network should be the first solution to try.
  • Steam Internal Problem/Steam server down: Many times the issue comes from the Steam side itself. There were many times that users from a few regions are unable to access their shared library. In this case, it is recommended to check the Steam official forum site for any new information about Steam server status.
  • Too many users are playing the same game: Due to the nature of Steam Shared Library(Steam Family Sharing) feature, only one user can enter a game at a given time. Make sure that no one is accessing the Steam library before you, and if they did, notify them that you’re trying to play.
  • Unstable internet access: There’s a chance that Steam is being banned from accessing the internet by your router or an external firewall. In rare cases, the internet access itself is unstable, making a few data packets go missing mid-way through the Steam server and thus causing issues with Shared Library feature.

Now that you are aware of the possible causes of the error, let’s move on to investigate further the problem and try a few fixes that have been proven to work for other affected users.

How to Fix Steam Shared Library Locked Error?

Check your antivirus

Most Windows users are using an antivirus or internet security application to protect themselves from online attacks. The program may block access to the Steam library, which leads to Steam shared library locked message pops up on the screen. 

In this case, try :

  • Disable the antivirus/internet security program temporarily, then relaunch Steam to see if the problem goes away.
  • If disabling antivirus/internet security application works, turn them back on and add Steam to its exception list for both private and public networks. 
  • Relaunch the Steam shared game to verify that Shared Library Locked error disappeared.

Close Steam on Other Devices

As we’ve mentioned earlier, only one user can enter a shared game at a given time. This is usually the most popular reason for the “Shared Library Locked” error.

In this case, make sure that noone in your shared list is playing the game. Since you can only share your Steam library to up to 5 accounts and 10 different computers, checking on your gaming buddies should be easy. You should also make sure nobody is logged in to your Steam account.

Blocking Steam from accessing the Internet

If you’re in a hurry and need a quick fix to play your game right away, try blocking it using the Windows Firewall. Without access to the internet, Steam cannot check whether a game is being played by another user, thus unlocks the Shared Library.

In order to block Steam from using internet, follow the instructions below.

  • Press Windows+R to open up the Run dialog.
  • Input cpl and press Enter to open up Control Panel. Then, select Windows Firewall.
  • Choose Advanced Settings. You may see a pop up window asking for permission to modify system settings, please select Yes.
  • Choose Outbound Rules from the left sidebar.Outbound Rules from the left sidebar
  • In the Actions pane on the right side, expand it and select New Rule.
  • In New Outbound Rule Wizard dialog, select Program under Rule Type, then select Next.
  • Select This program path toggle button on in the next step. Browse to the executable path of Steam. Usually, it’s steam.exe located in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam.
  • Click Next and select Block the Connection option in Action.
  • Click Next and select all the three options : Domain, Private and Public.
  • Hit the Next option, input Steam in the Name field, then click Finish. You should see a new entry in the Windows firewall with Advanced Security window.

Disable Family Library Sharing

If you need a quick fix to make “Shared Library Locked” error go away, consider temporarily disable the Family Library Sharing feature, which should let you play the game immediately without doing anything else. But please do note that you have to manually add your gaming buddies and family members back if you decide to re-enable Family Library Sharing later.

In order to disable Family Library Sharing, follow the instructions below.

  • You can log into the Steam client.
  • Visit the “Family” tab in Settings
  • Uncheck the option Authorize Library Sharing on this computer under the Family Library Sharing
  • Click OK and close the window.

Ban Steam from Internet using BAT script

Affected users from around the world have created scripts to quickly fix “Shared Library Locked” error in common situation.

Basically, you would have to run a .BAT file to disable internet access for Steam, then you can play you favourite game in the library again. Follow the instructions below to ban Steam from Internet using BAT script.

  • Head over to this page and download all the files inside.
  • Log into Steam, then just when you’re about to enter the game, run Steam Off.bat file. The script will disable the access to the internet for Steam.
  • After you’re done playing, run Steam On.bat file to turn the internet back on.

Try SFS-Select

SFS-Select, which stands for “Steam Family Sharing Select”, is a third-party tool created back in 2014. It allows you to reorder or temporarily disable a PC authorization on Family Sharing.

By using SFS-Select, you can disable a “in use” library in favor of unused ones. Additionally, the tool can tweak the way steam uses to assign games to the active sources.

This is only recommended as the last resort, as we cannot verify the tool’s authenticity. But many users have reported that it works for them without any additional issues. You can find out more about SFS-Select as well as how to install and run the tool at its Steam Community discussion thread.

Clear Steam Cache

The Steam client does not download its data in one single package. Instead, information is downloaded in chunks from many servers. These downloaded files are often saved in the cache directory. Over time, this cache may become corrupted, making the application unstable at certain times. Clearing the cache may fix “Shared Library Locked” error.

Follow the instructions below to clear the cache of Steam.

  • Launch Steam, then go to Settings.
  • Select Downloads on the left sidebar.
  • Click the CLEAR DOWNLOAD CACHE option at the bottom of the screen. 
  • Select OK to clear the Steam cache.

Once the cache clearing process is done, you can launch Steam and access the game again to see whether “Shared Library Locked” error has gone or not.

We hope that the article helped you successfully fix “Shared Library Locked” error message on Steam as well as avoid encountering it in the future. We’ve also written a few other guides for fellow gamers such as How to use Geforce Now on Linux and The best open-source Unity games. If you have any suggestion, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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