Add games & roms from a network drive to RetroArch

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I like to run my RetroArch installation from any Windows PC connected to the network, so I installed it on my NAS. But it won’t allow you to load roms/games from a NAS or network drive by default. You can only navigate through your local drives like C:/ D:/ etc.

How to select roms/games in RetroArch which are stored centrally on a NAS?

This trick only works if your RetroArch installation directory is also located on your NAS. (Example: \\NAS\Games\RetroArch )

  1. Create a new directory in your RetroArch installation directory and name it “Roms” (or whatever you like)
  2. Create sub-directories per console and fill it with your ROMS. You should end up with this kind of situation:
    • \\NAS\Games\RetroArch\Roms\SNES\roms.smc
    • \\NAS\Games\RetroArch\Roms\N64\roms.z64
  3. Now open the file retroarch.cfg with text editor and find this line: rgui_browser_directory
  4. And change its value to: rgui_browser_directory = “:\Roms”
  5. Save the file and start RetroArch

This changes the ‘default starting position’ whenever you want to browse for files or directories in RetroArch. Now, in stead of seeing your local drives, you’ll immediately see the console directories you just made in the Roms directory.

From here on it’s easy to add network-based ROM files. This trick should also work if you wish to create a portable RetroArch installation on a USB-stick. But I haven’t tested that myself yet.

Hope it worked for you!

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3 thoughts on “Add games & roms from a network drive to RetroArch”

  1. Sorry for being a bit hard headed…
    So I have retroarch plus installed on my Nvidia Shield Tv, now would I install retroarch on my ubuntu laptop? I don’t know if retroarch plus can be installed on Ubuntu, does that even matter? Then I would create the game folder, I understand that part, then I would edit the config file and that should be it? In the mean time, I am going to install retroarch on my ubuntu laptop and see if that works. I will keep this page open for your replies.

    Thank you

  2. I have installed retroarch 1.10 on my laptop. I have changed the config file as per your settings, and when I open retroarch and import content, the scroll path at top is:

    /snap/retroarch/1178/usr/local/bin roms,

    but my roms path is

    I have changed this line in the retroarch.cfg file to: rgui_browser_directory = “:/roms”

    1. Hi Brian!
      Thanks for your comments/questions, I must admit I only use one (windows) RetroArch installation, installed on my NAS. This way I can run it on every windows PC in my network, or take the entire installation with me on a USB drive.
      It was already quite tricky to figure it out for such a commonly used platform. So there is a chance this guide isn’t universal for all installations like Android or Linux (or even both like in your situation).

      For example, on Android (your Shield TV) you must install/run RetroArch locally on your device with an .apk file, so this particular trick simply can’t work… (Like I state in the article: “This trick only works if your RetroArch installation directory is also located on your NAS. (Example: \\NAS\Games\RetroArch )”
      I’ll have to look in to it myself to see if I can figure out installing RetroArch for Linux on a NAS, and then reaching the roms on the same NAS. But I have very little Linux experience. I hope this answers your questions and good luck!

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