3 steps to faster Steam downloads

This is how I managed to get my Steam downloads zooming along about 3x faster.

I love Steam. I didn’t always, because earlier versions were regularly cranky—at least with me—but in the last three years I’ve grown enormously fond of it.

First, because it allows me to register games whose discs are very nearly scratched to bits—the undersides look like an angry cat went to town on them. Second, because of Steam Workshop. If you’ve played any of the Elder Scrolls games (I’ve played Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim) you’ll know how much of a difference mods can make to the experience.

My only point of frustration hasn’t actually been with Steam in the recent past—it’s with my aggravating internet connection. I don’t game online, so I don’t have a LAN connection to my desktop. When I was using discs to install my games, it didn’t matter much, because I could let things patch in the background and the patches were never gigantic enough to be a problem.

Now, though, with my increasing tendency to make online purchases—because my games cabinet is stuffed to bursting—I needed to find a way to make Steam downloads faster. After some poking around online, here’s what I found.

Step 1

Visit http://store.steampowered.com/stats/content/. You should see this:

steam faster downloads screen 1

Why does this matter? Well, regions of the map are clickable. So, you can click on different regions to look at server loads and see which servers have fewer users. Like so:

steam faster downloads screen 2a

Vietnam, as the screenshot shows, has a 7.2 Mbps download rate and just 0.2% of the global Steam traffic. At the time of this writing, Russia had 11.4 Mbps and 9.3% of the traffic; the US had 16.6 Mbps and 20.1% of the traffic … the list goes on.

Step 2

Look through the regions and decide which server you want to connect to and download from. Your rule of thumb is moderate to high download speeds, with the lowest possible traffic percentage.

When I figured this out last night, the Czech Republic server had very little traffic (less than 1%) and decent download speeds.

Now, go back to Steam.

Step 3

a. In Steam, click View from the menu at the top.

steam faster downloads screen 3

b. From the drop down menu, click Settings.

steam faster downloads screen 4

You should see the Settings screen pop up.

steam faster downloads screen 5

c. On the Settings screen, click Downloads.

steam faster downloads screen 6

You should see this:

steam faster downloads screen 7

What we’re interested in is the Download Region section of the screen. Click the drop down arrow and take a look at the menu.

steam faster downloads screen 8

d. Remember that, in Step 2, we looked at the different regions and their server loads? Pick the one with the best speed and least load from the menu.

e. Click OK, at the bottom of the screen.

Steam will prompt you to restart for the changes to take effect and, once you’re back up and running, you should see a difference.

The results?

My download speed before I did this was peaking at about 200 Kbps. Speedtest.net told me that I have a 4.57 Mbps peak download capacity, so 200 Kbps was beyond ridiculous (just so you know, my router’s part of the problem, but I knew Steam could give me more).

After this, I went from about 200 Kbps to a peak of 639.7 Kbps (if you look at the background of some of the screenshots, you’ll see the numbers) and an estimated 7 day download was very nearly done when I left home for work.

I don’t know if you’ll see results this dramatic (a 3x speed boost is kinda nuts) but I do hope it gets you gaming faster. If it does or doesn’t work, do let me know in the comments—there might be more tips and tweaks out there that make help make this faster still.

Credits

There’s this wonderful article by Rizwan Anwer that went up 3 years ago which helped me do the stuff up there: http://wccftech.com/article/speed-steam-downloads-significantly/. Given that the Steam options have changed over the years, I decided to update the images and the instructions, so that it’s just as usable now.

If you have a problem with the instructions, drop a line in the comments. I’ll poke around Steam to see if this needs updating.

Happy gaming, folks!

Trevor Coelho

Trevor Coelho

Owner, writer, content janitor at Lizard Lounge
Writes things. Occasionally pokes head out a door or window. Looks around. Gets a bit scared. Then goes inside where it's nice and safe, and writes more things.
Trevor Coelho

35 thoughts on “3 steps to faster Steam downloads

    1. Do you know why it wasn’t working? If the process has changed, or if you ran into something unusual, I’d be happy to add a note to the article.

    1. speedtest.net displays in Mbps.. megabits per second… steam displays it in MBps… megabytes per second. this is why it looks like it is so slow, when really your right around what speed test is showing you.

    1. He was on a internet browser, look up in your search bar ‘steampowered.com’ and then login to ur account and go to the settings things.

        1. This still a problem? I’ve never encountered this before, but if people see it pop up often, I’ll do some digging and see if Steam’s acting weird or if something’s changed with how selecting a different region affects downloads.

  1. MIne is becoming worse… I change the place to South Korea, WiFi says downloads at 15 MBps Upload 2.1MBps and then it runs at 59kbs now i switched to every single place they all run worse. Help please

  2. Is it safe to say if I have an average speed of one megabite a second I won’t get a better speed anywhere else? I tried South Korea which had double the download speed average but I had the same speed as I did for America-Detroit.

  3. it didnt worked for me im getting same speed as usual someone help i tried diffrent countries Im from India

  4. this was so helpful!! thank you so much!!!! from 15 hours waiting to almost 1 hr!! so great!! 2 thumbs up!! cheers!!

  5. insanely great! i was downloading just cause 3 (i started at about 10 AM) and at 5 PM it was only at 36%! when i tried this it did the other roughly 70% in only an hour! thanks!

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