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Valve switches on Steam remote downloading

Valve switches on Steam remote downloading

Steam now supports remote downloading, allowing you to queue up games to install from any web browser or mobile device.

Valve has officially flipped the switch for its remote-download feature, which allows Steam users to manage their games collection from any web-capable device - regardless of whether it has the Steam client installed.

Previously available in beta form, the service is now considered stable enough for public use. Those who choose to try it out will find themselves able to use the Steam mobile app or the Steam website to carry out tasks previously limited to the desktop client, including queueing up downloads and pre-loads.

If the target PC is switched on and has the client loaded, the chosen games will immediately begin downloading; if not, the games will be queued up for download when the system is next turned on and the Steam client loaded.

For those who leave their PCs on at all times - and we're looking in particular at the wonderful bit-tech/CPC folding team here - the new feature is manna from heaven: as soon as a game is launched, the download can begin even if you're at work or school. By the time you get home - the parlous state of the UK's broadband infrastructure notwithstanding - the game will be installed and ready for you to play.

To get started with the new feature, just log in to the Steam Community site - accessible from your profile when logged in to the Steam website in a web browser or using the Android or iOS mobile clients - and head to the Games list. If you've updated your client, you'll see a full list of your currently installed games along with buttons for installing others in your Steam library. New games purchased on the Steam store will also see a new prompt asking if you'd like to begin automatic download immediately.

30 Comments

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azrael- 17th May 2012, 11:28 Quote
Neat new functionality.
Shirty 17th May 2012, 11:49 Quote
This is great, but I don't think it will be a hugely popular feature. Still, it's nice to have the choice. Then again I don't leave my PC on during the day (silly SLI power draw), and I rarely buy new games so perhaps I'm not the target demographic...
Phalanx 17th May 2012, 11:55 Quote
Regardless of how well-used it will be, it's another nice touch to a system that seems to understand what it means to listen to the customer.
B1GBUD 17th May 2012, 12:05 Quote
Any tech savvy person would VPN / WoL / RDP and access the client directly to start the download off. Apart from Folders, who leaves their PC on all day drawing power? Not me, besides... I have a 50Mb cable connection so I'd just make a cup of coffee while I wait.
Phalanx 17th May 2012, 12:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Any tech savvy person would VPN / WoL / RDP and access the client directly to start the download off. Apart from Folders, who leaves their PC on all day drawing power? Not me, besides... I have a 50Mb cable connection so I'd just make a cup of coffee while I wait.

They might, but if the option was there to control it via this system, I'd rather use that.
steveo_mcg 17th May 2012, 12:54 Quote
My computer is off most of the time but its not hard to power it up on the way out the door and kick of the downloads on the bus. I can't leave it on at night because its right beside my head in bed but VM day time cap is big enough that you'd get most of a download done and ready for getting home from work.

Whilst I could RDP etc its waayy too much effort for steam downloads and this will hopefully be easier to work on a smart phones tiny screen.
SpAceman 17th May 2012, 12:57 Quote
Unfortunately not all that many people can/want to set something like that up. I shall be using this feature often.
mclean007 17th May 2012, 13:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Any massive geek with far too much time on his hands would VPN / WoL / RDP and access the client directly to start the download off. Apart from Folders, who leaves their PC on all day drawing power? Not me, besides... I have a 50Mb cable connection so I'd just make a cup of coffee while I wait.
Fixed that for you :D

I'm tech savvy but I've got way better things to do with my precious free time than set up something like that just to download games. This remote feature is far more straightforward to set up and use, avoids the manifold security holes that an inexperienced user might inadvertantly open in trying to set up more general remote access of the type you describe, and can only be a good thing, but you seem to be bashing it just because there exists a highly technical and not particularly user friendly workaround to achieve a similar result.
sandys 17th May 2012, 13:33 Quote
This sort of stuff is handy, I used do it with my PS3 over remote play, I have much faster internet now so the need is not so great but Steam games are much bigger so would be nice to do this on PC, can you make a PC remote power on like you can with PS3?


Would be particularly handy as I often see a deal on here and buy it through my phone, would be nice if my PC fired up downloaded it and powered off when done so when I get home I can just fire it up, due to work /family I get limited gaming time, waiting for download is a pain.
RedFlames 17th May 2012, 13:50 Quote
The XBox marketplace has done this for a while... buy something and the download will start when you turn it on [or straight away if it's already on]...

would i use the feature? unlikely, don;t have a compatible phone and if i'm on a pc it's usually my pc so i'll just buy it through steam but it's a nice option to have.
Gareth Halfacree 17th May 2012, 14:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
The XBox marketplace has done this for a while... buy something and the download will start when you turn it on [or straight away if it's already on]...
The difference here is that a non-zero percentage of PC users leave their systems on all day even when they're not in the house; the percentage of Xbox 360 users who do the same is, I would wager, significantly smaller.

In fact, doesn't the Xbox default to turning itself off after so many hours idle? I know it's an option, but can't remember if it's enabled or disabled by default...
RedFlames 17th May 2012, 14:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
The difference here is that a non-zero percentage of PC users leave their systems on all day even when they're not in the house; the percentage of Xbox 360 users who do the same is, I would wager, significantly smaller.

In fact, doesn't the Xbox default to turning itself off after so many hours idle? I know it's an option, but can't remember if it's enabled or disabled by default...

i don't think it's on by deafult, there's also an option for it to not turn off until any downloads have finished

I was actually referring to having the download for your new purchase[s] start as soon as you signed in to steam, or straight away if your pc is already on/signed in to steam.
x5pilot 17th May 2012, 14:55 Quote
I still prefer to order and receive a DVD - quicker install times and I prefer "the sense of ownership" - (Queue the spanner brigade!)
Also, if you rebuild your PC approx every 6 months like I do, having a DVD to hand (BF3, Batman, etc) means you dont have to download them all again - at most just updates and patches.
lamboman 17th May 2012, 14:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by x5pilot
I still prefer to order and receive a DVD - quicker install times and I prefer "the sense of ownership" - (Queue the spanner brigade!)
Also, if you rebuild your PC approx every 6 months like I do, having a DVD to hand (BF3, Batman, etc) means you dont have to download them all again - at most just updates and patches.

It is possible to backup pretty easily through Steam.

Good functionality IMO, but not really a big feature. The appeal is obvious, however!
B1GBUD 17th May 2012, 15:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Any massive geek with far too much time on his hands would VPN / WoL / RDP and access the client directly to start the download off. Apart from Folders, who leaves their PC on all day drawing power? Not me, besides... I have a 50Mb cable connection so I'd just make a cup of coffee while I wait.
Fixed that for you :D

I'm tech savvy but I've got way better things to do with my precious free time than set up something like that just to download games. This remote feature is far more straightforward to set up and use, avoids the manifold security holes that an inexperienced user might inadvertantly open in trying to set up more general remote access of the type you describe, and can only be a good thing, but you seem to be bashing it just because there exists a highly technical and not particularly user friendly workaround to achieve a similar result.

How can it cause security issues when your are accessing though an encrypted tunnel? It takes only a few minutes to setup and it has other uses besides just downloading your games remotely. I'm not bashing it, merely pointing out you can do a lot more with VPN/WoL/RDP, after all.... it's not too different to actually being sat infront of your PC.
[-Stash-] 17th May 2012, 15:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by x5pilot
I still prefer to order and receive a DVD - quicker install times and I prefer "the sense of ownership" - (Queue the spanner brigade!)
Also, if you rebuild your PC approx every 6 months like I do, having a DVD to hand (BF3, Batman, etc) means you dont have to download them all again - at most just updates and patches.

I can understand the quicker initial install (for bigger games anyway) as I have a slow net connection. As for having to reinstall games every 6 months?! Steam is better for this in a major way. Just install Steam to a different drive (not your system drive, usually C:), then when you nuke your Windows install, just run the relatively tiny Steam installer, point it to your Steam folder, and you're done. Everything completely sorted - MUCH easier than reinstalling all your games again from DVD. I say this as someone who did that back in the day (probably about 10 years ago now).
sandys 17th May 2012, 15:33 Quote
Just remember your games saves aren't backed up with steam before blowing your saves away :)
Blackmoon181 17th May 2012, 15:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [-Stash-]
I can understand the quicker initial install (for bigger games anyway) as I have a slow net connection. As for having to reinstall games every 6 months?! Steam is better for this in a major way. Just install Steam to a different drive (not your system drive, usually C:), then when you nuke your Windows install, just run the relatively tiny Steam installer, point it to your Steam folder, and you're done. Everything completely sorted - MUCH easier than reinstalling all your games again from DVD. I say this as someone who did that back in the day (probably about 10 years ago now).

Brilliant idea. Never thought of that!
Blackmoon181 17th May 2012, 15:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandys
This sort of stuff is handy, I used do it with my PS3 over remote play, I have much faster internet now so the need is not so great but Steam games are much bigger so would be nice to do this on PC, can you make a PC remote power on like you can with PS3?


Would be particularly handy as I often see a deal on here and buy it through my phone, would be nice if my PC fired up downloaded it and powered off when done so when I get home I can just fire it up, due to work /family I get limited gaming time, waiting for download is a pain.

I managed to 1/2 set it up a month ago. I found an app which sends a magic packet waking the pc from sleep. Then you could log in with your RDP app of your choice and download your steam games from there. You could also put the pc back into sleep with it. THe problem was i never got it working outwith my local network. Damn router permissions!
[-Stash-] 17th May 2012, 15:49 Quote
That's what proper backups are for ;)
scott_chegg 17th May 2012, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackmoon181
THe problem was i never got it working outwith my local network. Damn router permissions!

This +1. A lot of people don't understand port forwarding enough to make it work and a lot of routers don't make it easy or do it reliable enough to keep it working.

I think this is a brilliant move from Valve. I've got the mobile steam app on my tablet so being able to buy a game via the mobile app, queue up the download then text the wife telling her to turn my pc on is great! Oh hang on! Everytime I text her to turn the pc on she'll know I've bought another game!!!!

MADE OF FAIL!!!!!!
Star*Dagger 17th May 2012, 16:37 Quote
Fail = Marrying someone who does not accept that you are a Gamer!

Gamer-Girls, the only way to go (yes thats plural, because no one woman has it all!)
scott_chegg 17th May 2012, 16:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
Fail = Marrying someone who does not accept that you are a Gamer!

Gamer-Girls, the only way to go (yes thats plural, because no one woman has it all!)

Met and married my better half when I was more into DJ'ing than gaming. Now that I'm old with 2 young kids I can't really be bothered with the club scene.
Guinevere 17th May 2012, 19:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by x5pilot
I still prefer to order and receive a DVD - quicker install times and I prefer "the sense of ownership"

Oh that's really sweet, so very quaint. Like MW radio, only having three TV channels, thatched country cottages, farthings, bus conductors, ration books, music-hall and believing that George Lucas knew the f**k what he was doing.

Time keeps a movin' on. Do try and keep up.

;)
.//TuNdRa 17th May 2012, 23:25 Quote
Admittedly; I see myself doing this. I get random urges to play games while I'm out at college and other places, usually they're not installed, being able to set the download going, then get home and just chinchill playing the game is a nice thought. Although I think i'll very quickly run myself out of Hard-drive space doing that.
mclean007 18th May 2012, 16:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Any massive geek with far too much time on his hands would VPN / WoL / RDP and access the client directly to start the download off. Apart from Folders, who leaves their PC on all day drawing power? Not me, besides... I have a 50Mb cable connection so I'd just make a cup of coffee while I wait.
Fixed that for you :D

I'm tech savvy but I've got way better things to do with my precious free time than set up something like that just to download games. This remote feature is far more straightforward to set up and use, avoids the manifold security holes that an inexperienced user might inadvertantly open in trying to set up more general remote access of the type you describe, and can only be a good thing, but you seem to be bashing it just because there exists a highly technical and not particularly user friendly workaround to achieve a similar result.

How can it cause security issues when your are accessing though an encrypted tunnel? It takes only a few minutes to setup and it has other uses besides just downloading your games remotely. I'm not bashing it, merely pointing out you can do a lot more with VPN/WoL/RDP, after all.... it's not too different to actually being sat infront of your PC.
Of course you can do more with VPN/WoL/RDP, but it's also a significantly more complex setup that the vast majority of people wouldn't know where to begin with, and of those that could do it, it's too much of a hassle for many. As I said, I could set all that stuff up if I really wanted to, but to be honest I have better things to do.

As for security, I agree that accessing remotely over an encrypted tunnel is theoretically secure, but you're assuming the user doesn't inadvertently expose other services in opening up the port for a remote connection. You're also giving the average user too much credit to assume (s)he uses a sufficiently robust password to secure the link, and you're also assuming that nobody is keylogging the client machine and that the user remembers to log out and doesn't give anyone else access by mistake. It is a fundamental security measure not to expose any more resources to the outside world than is strictly necessary, and for the vast majority of users, a full remote access setup is going to be massive overkill. Far better to use something like Steam's setup, which offers very much more limited access to anyone who gains unauthorised access.
B1GBUD 18th May 2012, 18:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007

Of course you can do more with VPN/WoL/RDP, but it's also a significantly more complex setup that the vast majority of people wouldn't know where to begin with, and of those that could do it, it's too much of a hassle for many. As I said, I could set all that stuff up if I really wanted to, but to be honest I have better things to do.

As for security, I agree that accessing remotely over an encrypted tunnel is theoretically secure, but you're assuming the user doesn't inadvertently expose other services in opening up the port for a remote connection. You're also giving the average user too much credit to assume (s)he uses a sufficiently robust password to secure the link, and you're also assuming that nobody is keylogging the client machine and that the user remembers to log out and doesn't give anyone else access by mistake. It is a fundamental security measure not to expose any more resources to the outside world than is strictly necessary, and for the vast majority of users, a full remote access setup is going to be massive overkill. Far better to use something like Steam's setup, which offers very much more limited access to anyone who gains unauthorised access.

Point 1 - You don't need to open ports for a VPN connection.

Point 2 - My initial post which you kindly fixed for me made reference to "a tech savvy person".... I didn't say anything about the "average user"

Point 3 - No one has ever had their steam login details phished by using a web based service masquerading as a legit Steam site..... /sarcasm

There are plenty of ifs and buts you could apply using your own logic, but it doesn't mean its any safer.
mclean007 18th May 2012, 19:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD

Point 1 - You don't need to open ports for a VPN connection.

Point 2 - My initial post which you kindly fixed for me made reference to "a tech savvy person".... I didn't say anything about the "average user"

Point 3 - No one has ever had their steam login details phished by using a web based service masquerading as a legit Steam site..... /sarcasm

There are plenty of ifs and buts you could apply using your own logic, but it doesn't mean its any safer.
You're starting to sound a bit defensive. I'm not trying to pick a fight, and if you took offence to my tongue in cheek fixing of your initial post then I apologise. I'm only saying that your suggested alternative solution is neither appropriate nor practical for the vast majority of users, and that the amount of work involved is disproportionate to the benefit of having remote access to your Steam account. If you have other uses for a full remote connection, by all means go ahead, but for Steam downloads, I'd suggest Steam's solution (though I haven't tested it) will be less work to set up, more easy to use, and open fewer potential security holes than your suggestion.

To address your points in order:

1: Kindly explain how you run a VPN server (or any internet addressable server, for that matter) with no open ports.

2: You did indeed. There are many degrees of "tech savviness", and the level of expertise needed to implement a VPN/WoL/RDP setup as you suggest goes way beyond the abilities of many people who would consider themselves tech savvy. The point I was making is that, based on the old adage that there is nothing more dangerous than a little bit of knowledge, a user with a bit of knowledge and a lot of misplaced confidence might muddle along and set up a Heath Robinson remote access system that works but is full of holes. And to be honest I'm not really sure what your original point was, since you seem to be slamming Valve for implementing a feature that you consider is already provided for by generic remote access tools, but you admit they are only really appropriate for highly tech savvy users.

3: I'm not saying that Steam's system is inherently more secure, only that if the connection were compromised, it wouldn't give complete potentially administrator level access to the host system.
B1GBUD 18th May 2012, 22:00 Quote
I wouldn't go as far as to say i'm defensive, assertive?..... possibly, but I maintain that the comments were for the more advanced user. I wasn't bashing the system (I'm pro-steam), I was merely stating that there are other ways to kick off a download and do much more.

My methods are not exotic and neither is the hardware, I use a Draytek router that has VPN (32 dial in accounts + LAN2LAN) making use of a free dynamic dns service (although my WAN IP rarely changes). I can wake up any machine on my LAN via magic packet. Give it a few minutes to boot up and I can RDP to it via LAN IP. The remote machine has remote access enabled so no need to mess around with firewall rules or forward ports. If you wanted to wear a tinfoil hat then you could always login to the remote machine using a basic user account.

Depending on where you use Steam's service, whether you're on your dear Aunts malware riddle old PC or at some internet cafe where man in the middle attacks could occur (still got the tinfoil hat on) there is still some risk. Of course there are security implications, but they weren't the reason why I made my original comments.

Peace out ;)
mclean007 19th May 2012, 17:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
...snip...
All agreed. I think we were coming at the same point from different angles. Peace out indeed :-)
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