steam coronavirus response

Steam Addresses Increased Traffic With Automatic Update Changes and Bandwidth Settings

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It’s time for another COVID-19 video game industry update. This time, we have a new Steam coronavirus update. As we’ve covered earlier, many entertainment services, including the PlayStation Network, have taken steps to reduce bandwidth strain. That’s because, with the current global pandemic situation, much of the world’s workforce has moved to telecommute solutions. This has caused unprecedented strain on home internet services, although nothing catastrophic as of yet. Steam is the latest media company to get ahead of the situation, although unlike others, it isn’t just throttling speeds.

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Instead, Steam has made one major change to its structure, which specifically pertains to automatic downloads. Normally by default, Steam will automatically download updates for installed games in a user’s library. Now some restrictions are in place, and automatic downloads are only allowed for games that have been played within a three-day window. Steam has already been moving updates to off-peak hours, so this is an additional change. Games will still update on launch if an update is needed, regardless of other settings.

Along with that announcement, Valve noted that the company is looking at more options to make changes on its side in order to help with bandwidth issues. The post announcing the above change is also paired with a reminder that individual users can tweak settings pertaining to bandwidth use. These settings should help if a family household (or similar co-living situation) is in need of ways to corral internet use for work or other purposes. Per Valve, here are the four major settings you can use, with more information linked in the blog post.

  • Schedule auto-update windows! This will ensure that Steam doesn’t start updating a game while you’re in the middle of your work day.
  • If you don’t play a game in your library often, you can keep it installed but choose to no longer download automatic updates.
  • You can self-throttle your own connection to Steam. This might ease the load on your network connection, and may help ease bandwidth loads if network traffic in your area needs to be reduced.
  • Take advantage of Library Folders settings, so you can move infrequently-played games from an SSD to a storage HDD. This is usually better for you (and your bandwidth) rather than uninstalling the game and needing to re-download it later.

Keep an eye out on the usual spaces as things develop, just in case more changes are in store.

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Lucas White
Lucas writes about video games a lot and is a former Siliconera editor. Sometimes he plays them. Every now and then he enjoys one. To get on his good side, say nice things about Dragon Quest and Musou. Never mention the Devil May Cry reboot in his presence. Backed Bloodstained on Kickstarter but all his opinions on it are correct regardless.