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Steam is Valve’s distribution service for many video games. Although the company develops and publishes its own games, players can find many titles from various corporations hosted on Steam and available for purchase or download. It was designed originally to help Valve with updates and other things it needed to get out to players, but it has since expanded to include things like matchmaking for multiplayer servers, DRM support, and social gaming aspects.
Downloading and enjoying games is still probably Steam’s primary use, however. Some players who attempt to download titles may wonder why it takes so long to complete the process. We will discuss why some games may take longer than others in our article below.
We’ll also address a few troubleshooting methods you might be able to use to mitigate this issue. Further, we’ll dig deeper into aspects of Steam game downloads, including your computer’s wakefulness, downloading more than one title at once, and the possibility of playing any Steam games without downloading them first.
Why Does It Take So Long To Download Steam Games? (Solved!)
There are several possibilities that can influence how fast your Steam game downloads go, and many of them could be dependent on the desktop rig you are using. However, there are three main reasons that we can look at to determine what might be affecting your downloads.
Mainly, it will depend on your internet download speed. While you probably pay for a particular tier or package from your internet service provider (ISP), there are a few things that can affect whether you’ll get the top speed.
Your ISP itself is one of these things. The provider can limit how much download speed you get, but this is usually something that stops at the upper limit of whatever tier you’re paying for, and it will only go below that if you are using a lot of your bandwidth for multiple things at once.
If you want to download multiple things, other devices in the home are using the internet, or more than one person is downloading something to different devices, all of that is split between what you’re getting from your provider.
Furthermore, activities like gaming on the internet also require bandwidth and the downloading of data, as do video calls and chats. If your Steam download is going too slowly, it could be this.
Secondly, the content provider could be slowing your download speed. In this case, the content provider is Steam, and the speed they give you could be intentional or unintentional. The content provider has the ability to throttle your connection to its own servers. When this happens, the speed at which you get the files from the server is affected.
In fact, you can look at the download speeds as you are downloading a Steam game. If you notice a lot of fluctuations, it is probably not something to do with your internet connection. Rather, the speed at which the server is giving you the data is what is going up or down. Throttling means that the content provider sees an appropriate reason to limit this speed, but it could be entirely unintentional, too.
Finally, the hardware you use can be a factor in how fast or slow your game downloads are. In general, the hardware determines the maximum throughput that is available to you.
When we talk about disk drives, throughput is simply a common term for the data transfer rate that they can handle. If you’re getting speeds that seem a lot slower than your connection can handle, it is possible that you are using an older disk drive that is going up to its throughput limit when handling the downloads for you.
6 Ways To Fix It
We touched on three of the main things that can make it seem like Steam game downloads are too slow for a connection type that you might have. Within these main categories could be several smaller reasons why you might experience slower speeds.
Although we may not have a comprehensive list that covers everything, we will explore some of the common fixes other users might have explored already as a means to fix the issues they had. There may be slight variations depending on your system, but you can try some of these troubleshooting methods yourself.
1. You can check the household Wi-Fi connection in order to free up bandwidth and make sure no simultaneous downloads, streaming, online gaming, or other heavy things are going on. That would allow you to make sure that your bandwidth and connection limit are both as free as possible for your Steam needs.
2. It is possible that, in addition to any download limits or throttling, you might be using a driver that is not current. An outdated network driver could cause issues with your internet connection.
By making it unstable, your download speed could be much slower than normal. This could be compounded by a slow or unstable connection to the server from which you’re getting the game, too. Try to update your network drivers to see if there is a difference.
3. Your firewall or antivirus settings could be interfering with your Steam downloads. The firewalls in place may be adding extra processes to the download that keep data from coming through efficiently.
You could try to disable these things temporarily for downloads. Although Steam is a reputable source, you may wish to scan files and folders afterwards, just to be safe.
4. Similarly, you can try giving priority to all Steam downloads. This way, they will get to use your system and network resources first. You can also disable unnecessary processes on your system. They might be taking resources without any obvious sign, and you could see improvements in Steam downloads.
5. Try using an ethernet cable for a more stable internet connection. If your Wi-Fi is spotty, this may be one solution.
6. Manually select the download region in Steam’s settings. If Steam selects the wrong region for you, it might try to download games from a server that is much further away from your geographical location. For the best results, make sure your region is set properly.
Will My Games Download on Steam if the Computer Is Asleep or Off?
No, the functionality for Steam to download games is paused while your computer is asleep or turned off. Unfortunately, there are simply too many factors to account for in order to allow Steam to do this, although it could happen in the future.
While some gaming systems can still download games if they are not off entirely, it is because some of the functions of those systems are still “on” when the devices are in a low-power state. In this way, things like game progress are still held until you wake up the device. Similarly, USB and disk connections are kept active in order to facilitate downloading.
Computers don’t operate this way yet, but there are still things you can do to download games while the computer is on and conserve power at the same time. Here are some general guidelines:
- Turn off the monitor, but make sure the computer is not set to go to sleep after some inactivity.
- Turn off unnecessary things like Bluetooth, USB connections, and background processes that may use a lot of power.
- You may be able to lower your processor’s power usage, too. This might allow the game to still download while the CPU is only trickling out enough power for this process.
Can You Download Multiple Games on Steam at Once?
No, Steam does not support multiple downloads simultaneously. However, what you can do is schedule many downloads by adding them to a queue. This would allow the Steam client to download several games, going straight down the line as each game finishes. It would free you up for other things without having to come back to start a fresh download each time.
Can You Play Steam Games Without Downloading Them?
Steam usage is based on the account profile you set up for yourself when you first install the client on your computer. It can then store a library of your game purchases.
It does need to download files in order for you to play games. Because Steam doesn’t just load things into third-party software, the games need to download files to your computer, and those files will then run based on the specifications of the system you have.
Is It Possible To Play Steam Games in an Online Browser?
You need the Steam client for the PC or the dedicated Steam app in order to be able to play games that you’ve purchased and downloaded from the distributor.
Although the functionality does exist for some other platforms and could be implemented later, there is not a way to play Steam games directly through browser support without the help of the Steam client. There are ways to stream steam games running on servers as video content in one’s browser, but this is not the same as playing the game via a browser.
Steam is an excellent resource for gamers who want to have access to many titles from different developers all in one spot. There are frequent sales, and your account can store purchasing information so that you don’t have to keep all of the games downloaded onto your own system forever.
Some downloads can take a long time, but there are some guidelines above that may help you expedite this process to make it more efficient.