Add games & roms from a network drive to RetroArch

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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6 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!

  3. Windows system: Installed RetroArch on NAS. Set folder ROMS inside of RetroArch – took 3 days to move all of my roms to their own folders from their previous location – changed the retroarch.cfg file line to this: rgui_browser_directory = “:/Roms”

    Saved the file and launched RetroArch only to see C:\ and D:\ but not my NAS or Roms on which it resides. Thinking somehow the save may have been faulty, I force closed RetroArch, reopened the config file, only to find it was saved exactly as I set it. Okay, deep breath… tried to run the program again only to get the same result. A bit miffed now as I spent HOURS/DAYS moving/sorting nearly 2000 roms for nothing.

    Using the latest version 1.10.3. I followed these directions 100% to the letter. Is this not applicable any longer?

    1. Okay… as a last resort I rebooted the computer running the NAS. Old adage, but it worked. So, if on Windows and you have the same issue, try turning it off then back on. First step of computer/network troubleshooting ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
      Horses @ss stepping away now lol

      Thanks for the tut.

      1. Hi Gwendolyn, I’m happy to hear it (finally) worked for you!
        After reading the first comment I felt really bad/guilty for all the work you had done for nothing, since you may be right… After some random update of RetroArch it might not be working anymore. You never know in the wonderful world of software.

        Happy gaming!

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