The Steam auto-updater has been changed

Written by Jennifer Allen

March 31, 2020 | 15:00

Tags: #bandwidth #coronavirus #covid-19

Companies: #steam #valve

Steam is making changes to its update system in a bid to reduce bandwidth usage during these strange times. 

Valve has announced that Steam will be making some adjustments to how it deals with game downloads in an effort to reduce bandwidth usage during the COVID-19 outbreak. It's been sold as assistance for both the consumer worried about data caps, as well as helping ease the pressure on servers right now. 

In the statement, Valve explained, '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.'

Because of this, Steam will now prioritise and schedule game auto-updates differently to usual. Only games that have been played in the last three days will be updated immediately, with less recently played games scheduled for local off-peak times. That's fairly typical stuff, but they will now be spread across several more days to ease the load for everyone. Having said that, you can still easily trigger a manual update if you so wish so it's not like you'll be locked out of your older games until the auto-updater kicks in.

Valve used this time to also recommend a few changes to help you (and them) out. For instance, it recommends manually setting auto-update time windows, or even throttling your own connection to Steam via settings. Basically, live in a house where someone is desperately trying to work via video call? Maybe throttle your updates a little for their benefit. 

It also recommended disabling auto-updates for games you have no intention of playing any time soon, as well as transferring rarely played games from your SSD to a HDD. 

It's fairly standard stuff and reasonably tame by Steam so far. In recent times, we've seen Netflix, Amazon and YouTube all reduce their video quality and bandwidth usage in an effort to take the strain off servers in Europe. Sony has also recently announced that its downloads will be 'somewhat slower or delayed' in a bid to ease the pressure. In contrast, Valve's efforts seem remarkably relaxed and rely on people's good will. Something that hopefully it won't end up regretting. 

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