The coronavirus outbreak has, understandably, put considerable pressure on the online services we use to keep ourselves amused while we're stuck at home. Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon have all made changes to their services to help keep the data flowing smoothly, and starting this week Valve will adjust Steam's auto-update feature to help better manage its bandwidth usage.

Steam already schedules updates for games that haven't been played recently for local off-peak hours, but those updates will be now spread out over several more days.

"Only games played within the last 3 days will be updated immediately. As always, the game will begin updating immediately if you request to play it, and you can always initiate an update (or pause it indefinitely) through the Download Manager," Valve said. "Weíre also looking into additional solutions to help on our side."

The update also makes notes of user-controllable options that can help cut back on data usage:

  • Schedule auto-update windows! This will ensure that Steam doesnít start updating a game while youíre in the middle of your work day.
  • If you donít 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.


PC Gamer