How to Increase Steam Download Speed

By James Crider

Steam is an online video game distribution system developed and maintained by the Valve corporation. Instead of buying a CD or DVD at a retail store, users download the game files directly from Steam and install the game onto their hard drives. Because Steam uses distributed loads to manage the huge game installation files, download speeds can sometimes be very slow, especially when downloading a new or popular game. There are a few steps you can take to maximize your download speed.

Stopping Bandwidth-Hogging Programs

Step 1

Start the Steam software to initiate any waiting downloads.

Step 2

Close all programs that are also running and might be using your computer's Internet connection, including Web browsers, email clients, video players and iTunes. Peer-to-peer programs like uTorrent or Limewire are especially hard on your Internet connection.

Step 3

Repeat Step 2 for all computers connected to the same network. If possible, shut down computers that are not being used.

Step 4

Avoid media-heavy sites like YouTube or Pandora if you must use the Web while Steam is downloading. Use only one window or tab at a time.

Changing Steam Settings

Step 1

Switch to your Steam window. Click "Settings," then click the "Downloads" tab.

Step 2

Choose the region or city closest to your physical location. If this is already set to your location, try another; different Steam server that may be less crowded with download requests.

Step 3

Click "Internet Connection Speed." Click the fastest speed available (even if your connection is not actually this fast), then click "OK."

Tips & Warnings

  • Steam's download speed is ultimately determined by Steam servers. While changing the connection speed and server location may result in incremental speed improvements, you won't see a dramatic improvement if Steam just doesn't have the available bandwidth. Keeping local programs and computers from hogging your own connection is generally the best way to maintain a fast connection.