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Go home Steam, you’re drunk.

Or perhaps someone behind the scenes is. This appears to be the common consensus as several users logged into Steam today to find out that a majority of their library were either downloading empty updates with no size, or downloading updates that were usually slightly above 100MB but have gone over 300MB in size in some instances. In some cases, the empty updates were followed by the few hundred megabyte updates.  There’s a reddit thread and several threads on the Steam forums about the issue happening.

The reason for these “updates” was actually that these updates were deleting redistributables for Microsoft Visual C++ and DirectX in games that they were packaged with (the writer of the article has confirmed this himself).  This is a common practice for anything downloaded over Steam that use these to function.  Starting a game for the first time over Steam always has a setup process that involves checking to see if either Visual C++ or DirectX components are up to date for the game that is being played, and installing any missing components if they are not present or up to date.  Several users (including the writer of this article) then proceeded to have Steam redownload any missing redistributable installer, the cause for the 100-350MB updates, though some users have reported higher sizes for some games.  Users that have previously deleted these folders through some fashion (Steam Cleaner, manually, etc) have also been subject to these downloads.

While this on the surface wouldn’t be a big deal, in an age of increasingly metered and capped internet connections, these updates could squander precious megabytes, even gigabytes off of affected parties.

The cause appears to be related to Valve working on repositories behind the scenes today, according to a mod responding to one of the several threads popping up across the Steam boards, though it seems the post was later updated that something indeed went wrong during this operation.  If these updates are happening to you, the same mod urged you to instead restart Steam.  Being opted into Steam Beta apparently does not affect the occurrence of these updates. Also important to note is that Steam Mods don’t have much more information generally speaking and are not Valve employees.

As of this writing, there has been no response from Valve, or an official confirmation on the actual cause of the problem.  We have reached out to Valve about the issue and will update when we have more information.

Have you experienced these issues? Do you have data maximums that may make an error like this potentially costly? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

David Strack

Staff Writer

A writer, gamer, aspiring musician and does stuff for Tech Raptor. Loves good FPS games, racing games, and JRPGs. Has a thing for anime, otaku goods, and motorsports. Hopes to become a published author soon, and make good music.

  • Rautaputki

    Interesting. It’s a shame that Valve doesn’t have a PR department to deal when these kinds of issues happen and share people some information about what is going on.

  • eltonBorges

    I hope it’s nothing too serious.

  • Leighton

    Of my 144 installed Steam games 56 currently require updates. Thankfully I’m not on a metered ISP (yet) so I’ll just let it do its thing during the night. I definitely said WTF when I saw it, though.

  • Psyvenrix

    Australian here : we have had internet quotas since the dawn of broadband. These concerns are nothing new to us. you merely adopted the quotas, I was already a man by the time I saw my first terabyte internet access package…

  • Albedo The Chemist

    You’re a Big Guy, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  • Sebastian Mikulec

    I guess this only affects Windows users. I haven’t noticed Steam downloading libs for any installed games on my Linux box.

  • Kamyk Aster

    This issue also rendered some people’s games broken and unplayable. I have 4 that now give me an error about “content still encrypted”, and I see dozens of other people in the steam forums with the same issue on some of their games. Restarting steam is NOT fixing this issue so far.

  • HAppY_KrAToS

    My ADSL box died 1 month ago, and had no Internet and phone during 2 days. I shared the Internet from a smartphone, with an unlimited Internet plan.
    Got an SMS notification from the phone provider, saying I had reached 10 GB , just in case.
    Damn, 10GB in less than 2 days, with no big downloads, no updates, only Web and YouTube.

    I wonder how people do, with their monthly Internet plans, with 4 or 5 GB of traffic, for a WHOLE month ! Specially, with 4G, it goes ultra fast. I guess people must limit to 2-3 YouTube videos per day, at 480p, to last the entire month.

    Steam : welcome to a 100% digital world…

  • Psyvenrix

    no youtube for me until like 2010. we simply did not have the quota and of course vidya comes first. Some Australian ISPs offer unmetered content (data from a given source that does not count to your monthly allotment). You learn to make *FULL* use of those under such conditions.