Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Every now and then Steam releases games for peanuts, like during their annual summer sales. A Steam purchase, however, is only half the battle. You’ll have to download these games too, which can be a herculean task after a buying binge. Moreover, if you have a poor internet connection you can find yourself downloading for days on end.
That is, until now. There are ways to speed up Steam downloads.
Declutter Your Connection
Seriously, close your browser. As much as internet speeds are something of a mysterious force, there are a few obvious ways to cut down on your extraneous data use. The easiest method is hiding in plain sight: your Taskbar. Right-click on your Taskbar and select the Task Manager.
Next, click on the Network category. If you see any pesky programs hogging up your network connection, particularly currently running games, right-click on the program and select End task.
Optimize Steam’s Software
Another little trick to optimize Steam’s download speeds also lies within your Task Manager. First, open Steam and locate the software in your Task Manager. Right-click on Steam Client entry and select Go to details.
Next, from your Detail panel, right-click on SteamService.exe and select Set priority, then High.
While this won’t radically alter download speeds, it will inform your PC that Steam deserves a higher priority than the rest of your programs, background or otherwise.
Optimize Your Data Connection
While Steam does do its best to provide users with the most optimal speeds available — thanks, Gabe! — Steam’s download speeds will largely depend on the speed of your own internet connection. Though it’s understandable that not everyone has access to a powerhouse internet connection, there are a few things you can immediately do to better your overall online connection.
My topmost recommendation would be to download games using a physical Ethernet connection. This also means tracking down your LAN drivers and installing the latest ones. To do so, you’ll have to locate your motherboard’s make and model.
Click on your Start Menu, type cmd, and click on the Command Prompt option. Enter the following into your prompt and hit Enter on your keyboard.
wmic baseboard get product,Manufacturer
Google your motherboard’s make and model to locate its Support page. From this page, you’ll be able to locate and download the latest LAN drivers. Finally, connect your modem to your PC via an Ethernet cable. That’s it!
Steam downloads are regional, rather than centered in one global location. At times, Steam will incorrectly read your location. This means you could be located in Los Angeles, while your downloads are centered in Philadelphia, which could dramatically affect download speeds.
To change your download region, open Steam and head to Steam, and then Settings in the upper left-hand corner.
From the Settings window, click on the Downloads category. Next, click on the drop-down menu below Download Region.
Set this option to the closest server available in your area. For added measure, set the Limit bandwidth to option in this window to No limit.
While choosing your closest server is typically your best bet, it isn’t always. For example, I live in an area with high download rates and high levels of traffic.
This affects the overall speed of your download: the higher the traffic, the more clogged your connection. You can, however, relocate the server in order to find the right balance of traffic and download rates.
First, head to Steam’s Download Stats. From this interactive map, you will be able to check the average download rate and percentage of global traffic.
Click on a country to see the download rates and traffic. To provide an example, let’s take the United States and China.
Although the U.S. has a slightly larger average download rate, it also has almost twice the global Steam traffic. While your download rate results may not radically change (as proximity is also a factor in download speeds) changing your current server to one with a greater download rate or less traffic will certainly help download speeds.
Don’t Be Down About Downloading
There’s nothing sadder than slow download speeds. That’s why we’re here to help. If you’re experiencing slow download speeds on Steam, take a few minutes to enact these tips. After all, those MBs add up!
And if you’re wondering how Steam account security works or how to stream your games to TV from PC, check out our helpful guides. If you’re looking for game recommendations, start with these top indie games you can buy on Steam.