Steam Changes Auto-Updates to Manage Increasing Bandwidth Usage During COVID-19 Pandemic

Steam Changes Auto-Updates to Manage Increasing Bandwidth Usage During COVID-19 Pandemic

Only your most recently played games will pull down updates right away.

Several online storefronts and game services have taken measures to deal with the increased internet usage as of late. Today, Steam rolled out a new measure of its own, while also highlighting tools PC owners can use to keep their bandwidth in check.

Posted to the Steam blog, the PC storefront will be limiting its auto-updating feature. Rather than keeping every game you have installed automatically up-to-date, Steam will only immediately update games that you've played within the last three days. Game updates can still be manually initiated through the Steam client, but only your go-to games will pull down patches the moment they go live.

As Steam notes, the storefront has already been scheduling those updates for off-peak hours, and will continue to do so. The Steam blog highlights ways to help manage bandwidth as well, including scheduling auto-update windows, manually halting automatic updates on games in your library, throttling your own connection, or moving games to a storage drive rather than uninstalling and then reinstalling later.

Sony has already begun slowing PSN download speeds to help deal with the increased internet traffic. As many players are staying indoors and practicing social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, online services have predictably seen both record numbers and server troubles.

The more people are online and drawing content through the pipes, the higher chance your local internet traffic needs to slow down a bit to keep up. It's probably not a bad idea to schedule a few downloads or pre-loads of games, especially overnight or during hours when most people will be otherwise distracted. If you're looking to download an upcoming game like Resident Evil 3, it might not be a bad idea to set that up now.

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Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

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