steam engine train

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

RELATED: 5 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Out of Steam

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. 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.

You may have made peace with this slowness, accepting that Steam’s built-in browser is just bad. However, there’s a trick that may eliminate this delay on many systems and make the Steam web browser more responsive.

This problem seems to arise from an incompatibility with the Automatically Detect 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—and easy to re-enable if you need to.

Press the Windows key to open the Start menu, type “Internet Options”, and then click the Internet Options shortcut.

In the “Internet Properties” window, switch to the “Connections” tab, and then click the “LAN settings” button.

Disable the “Automatically detect settings” check box, and then click “OK” to save your settings. You can then click “OK” again to close the “Internet Properties” window.

With any luck, the significant delay you experienced every time a web page loaded in Steam’s browser should now be gone. In the unlikely event that you encounter some sort of problem with your network connection, you can always re-enable the “Automatically detect settings” option.

Increase Steam’s Game Download Speed

Steam attempts to automatically select the download server nearest to your location. However, it may not always make the ideal choice. Also, in the case of high-traffic events like big seasonal sales and huge game launches, you may benefit from temporarily selecting a less-congested server.

Open Steam’s settings by clicking the “Steam” menu, and then selecting the “Settings” option.

In the “Settings” window, switch to the “Downloads” tab, and then select the closest download server from the “Download Region” dropdown menu. While you’re on this tab, make sure that Steam’s download bandwidth doesn’t have a limit applied.

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. A server 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 is no longer 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

RELATED: What Is a Solid State Drive (SSD), and Do I Need One?

One way to speed up all your games—and Steam itself—is by getting a solid-state drive (SSD) and installing Steam to it. Steam allows you to move your Steam folder—which is 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 an SSD and one on your larger regular drive. Install your most frequently played games to the SSD for maximum speed and your less frequently played ones to the slower drive to save SSD space.

To set up additional library folders, head to Steam > Settings > Downloads, and then click “Steam Library Folders” button.

In the “Steam Library Folders” window, click the “Add Library Folder” button and create a new game library on another hard drive.

The next time you install a game through Steam, you can choose the library folder to which you want to install it.

With the proxy compatibility option disabled, the correct download server chosen, and Steam installed to a fast SSD, most things Steam should be much faster. 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

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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