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HaRdLy007

Scheduling Steam to download during off-peak hours

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Sadly Steam does not have a scheduler built in, so you either have to set an alarm for the middle of the night (and apologize to the missus in the morning!) or use a little craftiness to schedule a download…

The basic solution I’ve used with success is to use the Windows Task Scheduler to run a game at a set time, which triggers the download + install or update prior to the game launching. Here’s what I did,

           Buy a game on Steam (well duh!).

           Initiate the install and start the download, but immediately switch to your downloads list and pause it.

           Go back to your library, find the game and click the play button (or use a start menu/desktop shortcut) to launch the game. We need to do this to get some housekeeping out of the way – sometimes when you first launch a game you get a “here’s your game key” dialogue that you have to click through first. If you don’t do this housekeeping step the scheduled process will hang on that dialogue box.

           Click through any dialogue boxes (copying game keys etc) being sure to tick the “don’t show this again” checkbox. This should get the game downloading again (has to happen before you can play it) but immediately pause it again.

           Start Windows Task Scheduler and create a simple task that launches the game at the start of your free off-peak period. The program you want to run is either the steam executable with the correct game id, or the game exe directly. For example, to run DiRT 3:

C:\Games\Steam\Steam.exe -applaunch 44320

where the “-applaunch 44320” goes in the “arguments” box in the scheduler, or,

C:\Games\Steam\steamapps\common\dirt 3\dirt3.exe

where your Steam install folder may of course be different. You can find the applaunch id number from a desktop shortcut – right-click the game in your library to create a shortcut, then look at the shortcut properties to see something like: “steam://rungameid/44320”. To find the game executable, look in the game folder inside the “steamapps\common” folder inside your Steam install folder.

           Once you’ve setup your simple task to run once at the start of the free period, you should probably test it. Either set the scheduled time for a couple of minutes away and watch it execute (then reset the time afterwards), or run the task manually. If all goes well the task will run and the download will start (pause it again!).

           Leave Steam running (even if you use the first shortcut example), check your task time, and go to bed! Now hopefully in the morning the game is installed and ready to go – or it may even be running! (but more likely you’ll see the updating dialogue that has the progress bar and “play game” button on it ready to be clicked.)

Of course if the download is slow or simply too big to complete in a short off-peak period, then you may need to check it in the morning and pause the download before the free off-peak period finishes, and repeat the task the next night.

So, there you go. That worked for me and allowed me to schedule a large game download overnight.

If you try it, good luck! …and let us know in the comments – or if you’ve got a better solution until they build a scheduler into Steam (but I shouldn’t hold my breath right?!)

 

Hope this help!

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@HaRdLy007 how about instead of executing the game with task scheduler, execute steam directly, since it will initiate every download you have in the queue, also you should be able to kill the process with task scheduler too

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@HaRdLy007 how about instead of executing the game with task scheduler, execute steam directly, since it will initiate every download you have in the queue, also you should be able to kill the process with task scheduler too


I've tried that, but for some reason it only works for updates of currently installed games.

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