Download faster on Steam, this is how

By on December 22, 2011

It’s all in the servers (duh!).

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First Impressions
My reaction is

You may already know about this, but I came across this interesting trick only yesterday, and unlike you, I am going to share it with all those who don’t. Festive spirit, right?

So, on with it: The biggest concern, or well, annoyance, of Steam is its bastardly slow downloads. I mean, come on – sure you have millions of users downloading something or the other at once (thanks to your repeated assault on our wallets), but Valve, how hard is it invest in a few more servers and better data sharing?

But to whine is not the point of this article (that’s for another time). What is, is showing you how to, possibly, download faster with Steam.

Back story: browsing through the on-going Steam sale late in the night, my eyes fell on Psychonauts. Embarrassment quickly swelled up on my face. I had never bothered to play this game – a game regarded as one of the best adventure-platform title ever. So, out of guilt, and to redeem myself, I bought it. It was only $2.49 (it’s $4.99 till Jan 2nd). I started the download and expected Steam to trickle over slowly, which it did without fail. Annoyed, I Google’d for a solution.

After rummaging through various forum threads filled with similar complaints, I landed on Steam’s ‘Content Server Stat‘ page. This page shows all the servers that Steam employs, and how ‘loaded’ they are with serving users downloads. My experience with downloads kicked in – the lesser the load on a server, the faster the speed, right?

I quickly fired up the settings page on Steam and compared the currently selected ‘download region’ with the stat page. Yes, Singapore looked quite full. I scrolled through the page to find a server that wasn’t as full, and I found one: Australia – Brisbane QLD-IX. It was empty of any server load. I raised an eyebrow and selected the same region on Steam, restarted the client and stared at the Psychonauts downloads – 4kb…100kb…300kb…600kb…1MB! Profit! My download speed jumped from an avg of 300kb to max speed of my net connection! Proof is below:

So there, easy-peasy lemon squeezy. Compare server load, select a server that’s empty, set the same on Steam, and boom, game downloads accelerated.

Of course, disclaimer: this is not guaranteed to work all the time. Though technically, as technology works, it should. Just don’t quote me on it.


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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  • Ace248952

    I’ve never configured the server settings and my speeds are fine (1Mb/s average)

    • Jeremiah Moniz

      Same here. I get an average of 1-2 mb/s, even when downloading a couple items at once.

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