Have you ever noticed how slow Steam’s built-in web browser can be? Do you struggle with slow download speeds? Or is Steam just slow in general? These tips will help you speed it up.
Steam isn’t a game itself, so there are no 3D settings to change to achieve maximum performance. But there are some things you can do to speed it up dramatically.
Speed Up the Steam Web Browser
Steam’s built-in web browser — used in both the Steam store and in Steam’s in-game overlay to provide a web browser you can quickly use within games — can be frustratingly slow on many systems. Rather than the typical speed we’ve come to expect from Chrome, Firefox, or even Internet Explorer, Steam seems to struggle. When you click a link or go to a new page, there’s a noticeable delay before the new page appears — something that doesn’t happen in desktop browsers.
Many people seem to have made peace with this slowness, accepting that Steam’s built-in browser is just bad. However, there’s a trick that will eliminate this delay on many systems and make the Steam web browser fast.
This problem seems to arise from an incompatibility with the Automatically Detect Proxy Settings option, which is enabled by default on Windows. This is a compatibility option that very few people should actually need, so it’s safe to disable it.
To disable this option, open the Internet Options dialog — press the Windows key to access the Start menu or Start screen, type Internet Options, and click the Internet Options shortcut.
Select the Connections tab in the Internet Options window and click the LAN settings button.
Uncheck the Automatically detect settings option here, then click OK to save your settings.
If you experienced a significant delay every time a web page loaded in Steam’s web browser, it should now be gone. In the unlikely event that you encounter some sort of problem with your network connection, you could always re-enable this option.
Increase Steam’s Game Download Speed
Steam attempts to automatically select the nearest download server to your location. However, it may not always select the ideal download server. Or, in the case of high-traffic events like big seasonal sales and huge game launches, you may benefit from selecting a less-congested server.
To do this, open Steam’s settings by clicking the Steam menu in Steam and selecting Settings. Click over to the Downloads tab and select the closest download server from the Download Region box.
You should also ensure that Steam’s download bandwidth isn’t limited from here.
You may want to restart Steam and see if your download speeds improve after changing this setting. In some cases, the closest server might not be the fastest. One a bit farther away could be faster if your local server is more congested, for example.
Steam once provided information about content server load, which allowed you to select a regional server that wasn’t under high-load, but this information no longer seems to be available. Steam still provides a page that shows you the amount of download activity happening in different regions, including statistics about the difference in download speeds in different US states, but this information isn’t as useful.
Accelerate Steam and Your Games
One way to speed up all your games — and Steam itself — is by getting a solid-state drive and installing Steam to it. Steam allows you to easily move your Steam folder — at C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam by default — to another hard drive. Just move it like you would any other folder. You can then launch the Steam.exe program as if you had never moved Steam’s files.
Steam also allows you to configure multiple game library folders. This means that you can set up a Steam library folder on a solid-state drive and one on your larger magnetic hard drive. Install your most frequently played games to the solid-state drive for maximum speed and your less frequently played ones to the slower magnetic hard drive to save SSD space.
To set up additional library folders, open Steam’s Settings window and click the Downloads tab. You’ll find the Steam Library Folders option here. Click the Add Library Folder button and create a new game library on another hard drive.
When you install a game in Steam, you’ll be asked which library folder you want to install it to.
With the proxy compatibility option disabled, the correct download server chosen, and Steam installed to a fast SSD, it should be a speed demon. There’s not much more you can do to speed up Steam, short of upgrading other hardware like your computer’s CPU.
Image Credit: Andrew Nash on Flickr