After multiple streaming services announced they were dropping their quality for a while, to help internet providers cope with so many more at home, Valve have started speaking about their own ways to manage bandwidth too.
In the blog post on Steam, Valve mentioned how they've now adjusted download priorities so that games you've not played recently will move from using off-peak timings for auto-updates to spreading them over multiple days. Only games you've played in the last three days will update immediately. This doesn't change you clicking on a game that needs an update, as it will begin to update as normal when you request it. They also said they're looking into "additional solutions to help on our side" so we might see more download options in the Steam client eventually.
Valve's other suggestions were (help link here):
- Schedule auto-update windows! This will ensure that Steam doesn’t start updating a game while you’re in the middle of your work day.
- If you don’t play a game in your library often, you can keep it installed but choose to no longer download automatic updates.
- You can self-throttle your own connection to Steam. This might ease the load on your network connection, and may help ease bandwidth loads if network traffic in your area needs to be reduced.
- Take advantage of Library Folders settings, so you can move infrequently-played games from an SSD to a storage HDD. This is usually better for you (and your bandwidth) rather than uninstalling the game and needing to re-download it later.
Given that Steam is such a massive platform, and it continues to break records, it's nice to see them react and try to relieve a little pressure.
Personally, I really dislike auto updating on my Library. I use the auto-update window feature, set to 4-5AM when my PC is never on so that games and software installed through Steam only update when I manually tell them too. Still, having a proper option in Steam to have no auto updates sure would be nice. You can do that on a per-game basis as noted by Valve, but not for your entire library which is a bit annoying.
Why? For me it's not just a matter of bandwidth use, it's also control—if a game updates I want to know so I can go in and see what's going on with it. When you have 100s of games, it's hard to keep track if they all update constantly and it's not surprising people forget about so many fantastic games when that happens. Perhaps fine-grained controls is what Valve will give us at some point, could be part of the additional solutions they mentioned.