Steam promises quicker downloads with upcoming update

By on July 18, 2011, 4:49 PM

Valve has announced some tweaks to its content delivery system that should boost the speed of your game downloads. If you're fortunate enough to have a blisteringly fast Internet connection, you've probably noticed that the current system gets bogged down pretty easily following new releases or during major sales. During the recent summer sale, my downloads were sluggish and paused frequently.

That should be less of an issue with the new system, as its beefier bandwidth threshold will withstand demand spikes. Additionally, Steam will be able to serve content from more locations to reach international users better, and all content will be sent via HTTP. Along with being more firewall-friendly, this will allow the system to automatically take advantage of web-caching proxies installed at Internet providers.

Besides making downloads outright faster, Steam has been tweaked so users don't have to download as much data. With the existing model, if a game file is modified by an update, your client downloads the entire thing -- a real pain if that file is a heifer. The overhauled system improves that by only downloading the file's modified bits. This could also be useful for folks with strict Internet bandwidth caps.

Game creators will benefit from the new system as well, as it has allowed Valve to write new tools for developers and publishers that simplify the process of publishing and updating games on Steam. Users can also expect new client features, such as download scheduling and priorities, bandwidth throttling, and the ability to update a game while playing. Valve will introduce the new system gradually, with DotA 2 being the first game to use it. In the meantime, you can try it out by downloading a 720p game trailer from a Steam store page.




User Comments: 16

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Supra Supra said:

I downloaded a game demo last night from Steam at a steady 3.4MB/s (about 27mbps). I bought GTA4 last week and I was lucky to get 250KB/s when it wasn't paused....

Chazz said:

Both from Steam? I typically get 1.5-2.5 MBPS on steam. This has been for a couple years now.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Never really had a problem with Steam downloads. The longest was Crysis 2 which took about 3 hours on the day of release, but I expected that.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Glad to see valve improving steam even more, I have to admit, when TF2 got made free it was much slower (about half the normal speed I would get) for the first week. Glad to see such an update although I wish they would impliment some kind of automatic compression between server and client, that would lower the amount of data needed to download surely?

Muggs said:

Downloads during the summer sale were abysmal. Not that I am complaining about picking up Bioshock2 for $3 but it took about 10hrs to get to me and I am on an extremely fast connection.

Guest said:

I get max 9/MBps on some games. At peak times its worse or steam says their servers are too busy.

CryVer CryVer said:

My Steam downloads have been around 2 MB/s at best. Usually around 1.6 MB/s.

Leeky Leeky said:

I have to say I've never seen it struggling to download anything at less than my full bandwidth. I've always been bloody impressed with it.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Leeky said:

I have to say I've never seen it struggling to download anything at less than my full bandwidth. I've always been bloody impressed with it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm also seriously impressed as well, Its only at peak times it seems to slow a bit.

Steam 95% of the time manages to max out my line as well. I would love to see the servers all this is hosted on because they much be bloody high spec!

Leeky Leeky said:

I would love to see the servers all this is hosted on because they much be bloody high spec!

Aye, but would they run Crysis.....

Gosh, I never tire of that line!

P.S. I wouldn't mind there internet connectively and backbone myself...

Guest said:

I'm expecting a lot coming from Steam this year, they won't be one upped by EA's clone.

Guest said:

On our 150Mb line I usually only get about 8mb/s download so hopefully this fixes that

Guest said:

what about jitter?

i have jitter, confirmed using M-Lab line quality tests and a enemy territory lagometer, which results in packet loss. Are the download managers, that these sites use, reliable?..i try not to download anything from the internet...only discs if possible

(btw some might find it intresting that the only line qualty test that reliably confirms jitter is m-lab, ookla\pingtest.net isn't reliable at all when testing for jitter or packetloss, its a weak test that i'm sure comcast loves)

Guest said:

i'm the guest who posted above...just wanted to say i haven't really tested that much with ookla\pingtest.net concerning packet loss so i'd like to retract the statement relating to packet loss(but not jitter).

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Steam is already pretty fast for me - installing some games here on a third computer without probs - [link]

DjKraid DjKraid said:

On our 150Mb line I usually only get about 8mb/s download so hopefully this fixes that

I guess you don't have "full rate" so that means that your connections actual speed is "Up to 150Mbps" so if the lines are busy it's slower...

Anyhow, where is the "like" button for this article?

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