Friday, July 19, 2024
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How to fix slow game downloads on Steam: Tips and tricks


Key Takeaways

  • If you find find that Steam just isn’t downloading fast enough, check Steam’s servers first.
  • You can adjust download settings in Steam and change download servers for faster speed.
  • There are several things you can do to fix slow downloads on Steam.

If you’ve purchased a shiny new PC game on Steam, you’re no doubt in a hurry to get that game downloaded and installed so you can get into the game. The biggest bummer you can encounter is Steam taking its sweet time downloading the game, forcing you to wait for an agonizingly long time watching the percentage slowly tick up. Steam is usually reliable for downloading games as fast as your internet speeds can handle, but there are a few cases where it can slow to a crawl for seemingly no reason at all.

Rather than ruin your precious game time by spending half of it just downloading the game, let’s find some solutions to get you playing ASAP. Even if you’re been using Steam for decades, there are a few tips and tricks you might not know about that can seriously boost your download speeds.

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1 Check if there’s an issue with the servers

First thing you should try

Steam servers

Pocket-lint

The first thing to check if your Steam game downloads are slow is whether there’s an issue with Steam’s servers. Simply visit Steam Status to see if the problem could be on Steam’s end. Also keep in mind that, even when running as intended, Steam might not download at your maximum broadband speed, as its own servers might not be capable of such fast speeds all the time if your internet is particularly speedy.

If Steam’s servers are encountering an issue, there’s unfortunately nothing you can do but wait for them to be resolved.

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2 Check Steam’s download settings

Simple settings here might be holding you back

Steam client settings page on downloads tab

Another logical thing to do if you have issues with Steam download speeds is to check Steam’s download settings. Some simple settings here might be holding you back, but with a few quick changes, you can increase your download speed and reduce your misery.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open
    Steam.
  2. Click the
    Steam menu
    on the top left.
  3. Click
    Downloads
    in the left pane.
  4. Be sure to
    untick Limit download speed
    if it is ticked.
  5. Also,
    untick Schedule auto-updates
    if you want unrestricted downloads all-day.

You may also choose to “Allow downloads during gameplay” and untick “Throttle downloads while streaming” if you don’t use Steam Remote Play. Tweaking these settings may help improve your Steam download speeds.

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3 Change download servers

The automatic one might not be the best

Steam client download settings page showing download region drop-down menu

Under the same Steam download settings menu, you’ll also find that Steam has automatically selected your download region. Steam is a cloud-based service that will automatically select your download area, but this might not be the best one. Trying some of the others might help improve your download speed.

  1. Open
    Steam Downloads
    settings.
  2. Next to
    Download Region
    , click the drop-down menu.
  3. Look for and
    select a nearby download region.
  4. If there are several,
    try different local ones
    to see if any help to alleviate your slow download speed.

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4 Clear Steam’s download cache

A full cache can cause problems

Steam client download settings page highlighting clear cache button

Steam has a built-in cache to help with downloads. Although this tool can help with the download process sometimes it can also cause problems, so if you’re suffering from slow Steam downloads then it might be worth trying to clear this cache. To clear your Steam cache:

  1. Open
    Steam
    and navigate to
    Settings
    via the Steam menu.
  2. Click on
    Downloads.
  3. Next to
    Clear Download Cache
    , click the
    Clear Cache
    button.
  4. A
    pop-up
    will appear that you’ll need to agree to.
  5. You’ll be logged out of Steam and will need to
    log in again.

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5 Close other apps

Other programs might be throttling your speeds

Windows 11 task manager highlighting order by network usage button

Aside from Steam itself causing issues with downloads, there might be other things throttling your speeds. This could include other devices on your network and also apps on your gaming PC. To check this, we’d recommend opening Task Manager.

  1. Press
    Ctrl + Shift + Esc
    on your keyboard and open
    Task Manager
    and see what apps are running.
  2. In Task Manager you’ll see a column marked
    Network
    . Click on ”
    Network
    ” at the top of this column to filter results by the apps using the most bandwidth.
  3. You can then
    close anything
    else that’s unnecessary and uses a lot of network bandwidth.

Closing other game apps like Epic Games launcher, Ubisoft Connect, Origin, and more could improve your Steam download speeds because this will stop them from downloading in the background at the same time.

To close these, head over to your taskbar and click on the upward arrow next to the clock, look for these kinds of apps and others that might be hogging network bandwidth, then right-click to close them.

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6 Disable your VPN

VPNs often limit download speeds

Windows 11 advanced network settings page

If you have a VPN and other fixes on this list aren’t helping your slow Steam download speeds, you could try temporarily disabling your VPN to see if your game downloads improve. VPNs often limit download speeds to accommodate more users and data traffic through their servers. If you disable your VPN, this potential bottleneck can be lifted and your download speed could increase.

If you have a VPN service running while downloading games, you might also find that the wrong download region has been automatically selected, which is another thing that could be throttling your download speed and another reason to try disabling your VPN.

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7 Fix network issues on Windows

Feature image person sitting in front of window on ground legs outstretched with laptop running Windows 11

Unsplash

There could be issues with your network or internet connection on Windows rather than just on Steam, so it’s a good idea to eliminate any potential Windows network problems, too. The following are steps to resolve issues on Windows 11.

  1. Pause Windows updates by going to
    Start -> Settings -> Windows Updates
    and hitting
    Pause Updates.
  2. Remove data limits by going to
    Start -> Settings -> Network & Internet -> Advanced network settings -> Data usage -> Enter limit
    , and then
    set the Data limit to 0.
  3. Get assigned a new IP address and DHCP configuration settings by going to
    Start -> Command Prompt -> right-click and select Run as Administrator
    , and in the console that pops up, type
    ipconfig /renew
    and hit Enter.
  4. Reset your network adapter(s) to factory settings by going to
    Start -> Settings -> Network & Internet -> Advanced network settings,
    then hitting
    Network reset.

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FAQ

Q: Why is my download speed still slow?

Of course, it might not just be your Steam download speeds that are problematic. It could be that your download speed in general is slow. This can be down to all sorts of things, including the quality of your router and the strength of the signal, other people using up bandwidth in the home or other apps on your own machine chewing through data. Here are some things to try to fix slow download speeds in general:

  • If you can, use
    an ethernet cable
    instead of a Wi-Fi connection. This is more reliable and offers faster transfer speeds.
  • Turn off other devices in the house that might be hogging bandwidth.
  • If you can’t use ethernet, make sure you’re using a
    Wi-Fi antenna to help with signal
    .
  • Check your
    current download speeds
    and content your ISP if it’s slower than it should be.

Q: Why do my Steam downloads start fast and then slow down?

This can happen due to dynamic adjustments in Steam’s network usage, fluctuations in internet connectivity, or ISP throttling. To troubleshoot, restart your modem/router, try downloading at a different time of day, or change your Steam download region to see if a more consistent download speed can be achieved.

Q: How can I monitor my Steam download speed and progress?

Steam provides a built-in download monitor. To access it, go to the Steam client, click on View in the upper left corner, select Downloads, and you’ll see your current download speed and progress. This tool also allows you to manage your downloads, pausing and resuming as needed to manage bandwidth usage effectively.



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