Your Steam Downloads Are Now Faster, Stronger

This may not be the sexiest PC gaming news of the year, but for many it may well be the most important to their week-to-week purchasing habits: Valve's Steam service is now promising vastly improved download speeds.

Only a week after Steam was brought to its knees by a massive sale, many downloads trickling down the tubes at dial-up speeds, Valve has unveiled a new "Content System" that it's hoped will not just improve download speeds on the service, but make post-release support easier on users as well.

Valve has increased Steam's "maximum aggregate bandwidth", which it says will "help us satisfy spikes in demand when there's a big release" along with enabling the company to "be able to send content from more places, to better serve people all around the globe."

What does this mean in real-world terms? Anecdotal evidence: I tried re-downloading Napoleon Total War on Saturday, and it was drip drip dripping down at a rate of around 150kb/s. This morning, after this update, it raced down at 1.8 mb/s.

Aside from faster speeds and more reliable service, Valve also says that a new "Client Code" will mean that when downloading updates and patches for games they'll be smaller in size.

With the Steam content system that's been in place for a few years now, if an individual file on disk were modified by a game update, your client had to download the whole file. That can be painful when the file in question is really large. The new system supports delivering only the differences between the old and new files, meaning game updates will be much smaller overall.

You can read the full update on Valve's site.

Download Better, Stronger, Faster [Valve]


    Just in time to miss the big Steam sales where everything downloaded like molasses! I hope that was NOT a test run!

    Now you can increase your pile of shame faster than ever before!

    Does this change affect Australian downloads? I averaged about 900-1100KB/s before, that's pretty much as fast as I've ever seen my Internet go (Speedtest gives me 1300KB/s), so I doubt this would have any effect on me anyway.

      What! Over the course of the Steam sales I was hitting 150-200kb, as opposed to my 800kb+ Usenet connection.

        Wow that's lucky during the sales it took me 3 hours to re-download Audiosurf which is only 400MB & something like 40 minutes for Plans Vs Zombies D:

          I think downloading Steam games on my freezone helps... a lot. It took me somewhere between 2-2.5 hours to download Portal 2 on the first day of the sales.

      I reach those speeds as well. I'm on cable and I use the USA - Los Angeles server. I found it to be faster than the local ones within Australia.
      It's great when you can download a game quicker than it would take to go and buy it from a physical store :)

        took me 3 days to download GTA4 lol

        Yes it's 15gig but i usually get around the 2mb/s mark on steam. Actually I broke it with some mods so I might redownload and see how quick it goes.

    great timing too, just bought a new laptop and dreaded thinking about how long it would take to download BFBC2 and TF2 onto it

      You didn't backup your steam folder on your previous machine?

        theres a backup feature?


        I'm a steam newbie, heck im still trying to work out how the chat works between friends...but i'll look it up anyway.

        Saves a lot of downloads and wasted time

        thanks :D

          Don't use steams backup system unless you want to wait crapload hours to back your whole folder.
          Just copy over the steamapp folder in the steam directory.

    I'm happy to say it works fine! I was downloading from the Vancouver server thanks to Bajo from Good Game tipping me off on Twitter which I was getting max speed from. But now i'm back downloading from the NSW Telstra server at max speed. Which is sweet!

    I certainly hope it does make a difference.. getting sick of it to the point of looking elsewhere.. like Direct2Drive and other places. I like Steam's interface and, for once, their marketing and so on and so forth.. but after you make a purchase and have to wait 3 days for a download.. it's infuriating. Especially when you check your speed elsewhere and find you can achieve 2.0MB/sec...

    What, Steam is getting a back catalog of GameBoy Pokemon titles?


    How about differential patching then?

    No they just made the servers have more bandwidth :(

      "Differential Patching"

      Yes, actually, they are! Read the article again! :D

        You are right, hell has indeed frozen over.

    'rsync was first announced on 19 June 1996.'

    'The new system supports delivering only the differences between the old and new files' - July 18, 2011

    Either way, it still took them a while.

      rsync actually solves a more difficult problem than what Steam is doing: it needs to efficiently transfer the file when neither the client or server knows what the other side has at the start.

      Steam has the advantage that it should already have a copy of the old version of the file on the client (since it was originally put there by Steam), so it can easily precompute the changes and serve those.

      And binary diff tools are even older than rsync ...

        I don't know if Steam would necessarily go off that - I recently migrated the 'Steam/appdata' folder to a new computer and as I tried to install each game I think it did some kind of integrity check, because most of them started at 99% or higher. So yeah, Steam seems to be able to pick up on what data is present even if it didn't download it itself.

        Perhaps they'll have a CRC for each revision of each file, and if it recognises what you currently have it'll send you the relevant patch to convert it to the new one, otherwise it'll just send the full new file.

    Hmm, I had a few issues with like one or two games during the sale but other than that my download speeds were fine. With this they'll be even better. Woot!

    Wonderful, hopefully no more 24+ hour downloads..... Hopefully.

    Also might fix the issue with the Witcher 2 requiring a 9Gb update via Steam but only a 38Mb update via

    i hope this works because im on a 100mbit connection, the average download speed ive been getting over the last 2 months has been 300kb/s. other programs download quick as, even downloading something from a website is amazingly fast.

    Yay! 30kb/sec and dropping.. so when does this "fix" go live??


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