How to fix slow download speeds on Steam

How to fix slow download speeds on Steam

Steam has been a huge boon to PC gamers around the world, not only as a storefront for thousands upon thousands of classic and modern titles, but also as a game launcher, manager and debugger. Valve’s PC client has evolved tremendously over the past decade, offering a robust set of quality-of-life tools that are typically missing from other major PC gaming clients.

Despite all the progress made to the overall design, storefront, library and many more important aspects of the Steam PC client, one thing that still bothers many players is the abysmal download speeds, which can be very frustrating in the modern gaming landscape where the file size on most AAA and even indie titles averages around 50 gigabytes.

Slow download speeds on Valve’s PC client can occur due to a number of reasons, including corrupt download cache, faulty disk drives, incorrect server allocation, and some ISPs and VPNs blocking key aspects of the service. Fortunately, slow downloads on Valve’s PC client are fairly easy to fix, and more often than not require users to restart their PC. Here are all possible fixes players can use to remedy slow download speeds on Steam.


Table of Contents

From resetting the download cache to changing the download region, here are all the fixes gamers can try to remedy slow download speeds on Steam

1) Repair and reset the Steam download cache

The download cache is very prone to corruption, especially if players download games very often on their system. While the client itself does a regular cache reset with every other client update, there is also the option to reset the download cache manually. To reset the download cache:

The Download Cache option on Valve's PC client (image via Valve Corporation)
The Download Cache option on Valve’s PC client (Image via Valve Corporation)
  • Open the Steam client.
  • Click on the Steam tab at the top left of the client.
  • Select “Settings”.
  • Select “Downloads” from the Settings tab.
  • Click “Empty Download Cache”.
  • Restart the client and log in.

It should be noted that players will be logged out of the client when they clear the download cache, so it is recommended to keep the username and password available before resetting it.


2) Change download region

Changing the download region on Valve’s PC client can often be very helpful if players are experiencing abnormally slow download speeds. Changing the download region is quite simple and only requires restarting the client, and it also does not log users out of the client. To change download region:

The Download Region option on Valve's PC client (image via Valve Corporation)
The Download Region option on Valve’s PC client (Image via Valve Corporation)
  • Open the Steam client.
  • Click on the Steam tab at the top left of the client.
  • Select “Settings”.
  • Select “Downloads” from the Settings tab.
  • Select “Download Region” and change it to another location, preferably another country.
  • When you’re done, restart the launcher.

3) Check the Windows firewall

Windows can often end up blocking critical functions of Valve’s PC client, which can cause slow download speeds, as the client will not be able to access the necessary services. To check the permissions for the client in Windows Firewall:

  • Open the Start menu.
  • Type “Firewall”.
  • Select “Check firewall status”.
  • Select “Allow an app through Windows Defender Firewall”.
  • Tick ​​”Steam” and “Steam Web Helper”, these two services should have full network access, i.e. both Private and Public.
  • If one of these services is missing some of the network privileges, edit it by clicking “Change settings”.
  • Once done, restart your PC and launch the client.

4) Checking internet connection and download speeds

While internet downtime is less common these days, it can still happen at the most inopportune times, i.e. while downloading the highly anticipated update for Warzone, which weighs in at around 100 gigabytes.

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Therefore, it is highly recommended as the first rule of thumb to check for Internet connection issues when you encounter slow download speed or stopped game downloads. A quick reboot of the router, although not required, is also recommended, so as not to leave any stone unturned when troubleshooting the slow download speeds.

Although it’s super rare, it’s also possible that sometimes Valve itself may face server downtime due to maintenance, which can lead to slow download speeds. Players can check Valve’s official support page for server related downtime information.


5) Reinstall the Steam client

If all else fails, players can try reinstalling Valve’s PC client on their PC by downloading it from the official website. While reinstalling the client can be a hassle, luckily Valve has made huge improvements to its PC client that doesn’t require users to uninstall the games they already have installed on their PC.

Once players have downloaded, installed and updated the client on their computer, they can simply go to the game’s page in the library that they already have installed on their PC and let the client rediscover the files for the game. It is also recommended that players run a file integrity verification for the games, in case some files end up being incompatible with the newly installed version of the client.

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