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Steam updates slowing down? Here’s why

Steam is taking steps to manage its bandwidth usage during the coronavirus crisis, the gaming shop-front and platform has announced. 

In a statement on its website, Steam said: “We know a lot of you (like us here at Valve) are stuck at home right now trying to work or attend school remotely. Or maybe you’re just playing a bunch of great games on Steam. Whatever the case may be, we know that with so many people at home trying to get things done at the same time, it can put a stress on your home’s internet bandwidth.

“With that in mind, we thought it was a good time to remind everyone of some of the features the Steam client offers relating to downloads, so that you can manage your home bandwidth and help everyone in your house handle this unique situation we all find ourselves in.”

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This follows similar steps which were taken by streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus over the last couple of weeks. They joined the likes of BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub in streaming in lower quality, to reduce the strain on broadband networks.

The decision was taken as a result of the coronavirus outbreak forcing millions to work from home, home-school their children, or self-isolate.

So, what has Steam changed?

Firstly, Steam is going to stop automatically updating any games that you haven’t played recently, so it’s not working away and using bandwidth on a title that you’re not likely to jump into. If you haven’t played a game in the last three days, it won’t immediately get an update.

Steam also offers gamers the ability to schedule windows in the day where Steam is allowed to auto update games. This tool lets Steam perform updates at a convenient time, rather than chewing through bandwidth while you’re trying to connect to an important conference call, download files, or stream that show you’ve been waiting for.

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If there are games in your library that you know you don’t play often, you can use Steam’s settings to turn off automatic updates for that title. So, you’ll only have to update it the next time you actually play the game, (if you want to play online, that is).

You can also move any infrequently-played titles from an SSD to a storage HDD. This is a better alternative for your convenience, and your bandwidth, than uninstalling the game and needing to re-download it later.

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