Almost everyone is stuck at home right now due the Covid-19 lockdown, and whether you’re working or gaming, your internet bandwidth is likely being soaked up a lot more than normal. Steam is one of the worst offenders when it comes to devouring bandwidth, often using a bit more than its fair share. So to help out with how much it’s using, Valve are rescheduling those pesky auto-updates for games you probably forgot you had, to free up some of that precious bandwidth at peak times. They’ve also given a handy reminder of a few options you can change yourself to further minimise your usage, too.
With games you haven’t played in ages, Steam already postpones auto-update downloads until off-peak times. Now Valve have announced they’re going even further, and “are now spreading these updates out over several more days.” It basically means all that stuff you have installed but haven’t touched in a while will be updated at a few separate times in the week when bandwidth usage is typically lower (late at night, or in the early hours). This only affects games you haven’t played for three days or longer though, so stuff you’re playing regularly should still see their normal update times. You can still force updates to download immediately, if you want.
Valve added they’re “also looking into additional solutions to help on [their] side”. In the meantime, they’ve given a few suggestions of things you can do to help yourself – like disabling auto-updates for games you know you don’t play much, throttling your own connection to Steam, and scheduling your own auto-updates. Steam has advice on how you can do all those things and more over here.
“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,” Valve said. “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.”
Since the pandemic lockdowns started, Steam has continuously broken its peak concurrent users record, and it doesn’t look like that’ll be slowing down any time soon.
Valve are not the only ones trying to deal with bandwidth problems. Akamai, a global server host used by a number of gaming companies, is starting to throttle video game downloads in certain places at key times, too.