Why is My Steam Client Broken?
July 5, 2023
It’s evening. You have just finished working. Now, you are tired, you want to relax. You sit down in front of your PC and click on Steam. You’ll play an hour or two of some of your favorite games. Except you find out steam client is broken. It won’t open, it closes on its own, it crashes and stops responding, or it just won’t let you log into your profile. And the evening is ruined. Annoying, isn’t it? Perhaps frustrating is the appropriate word. Especially since we oftentimes have no replacement for the Steam library we have so painstakingly filled.
Can this be avoided? Certainly. You just need to figure out what the problem depends on so you can take
action to fix it.
The truth is that there can be a wide range of reasons why the Steam client is not working. In this article, I will present the main ones, and some tips on how to avoid them or fix the problem. You only need to read to avoid once and for all frustrating evenings with an unresponsive client.
Steam and You
Let’s start with the assumption that possible client problems can be divided into internal Steam errors and external errors. Internal errors are usually fairly straightforward, and basic troubleshooting is usually sufficient to remedy them.
In contrast, external errors can be more complicated and require more advanced work, partly because they differ depending on your personal setup. You’ll have to test and try various configurations, turn off and unplug devices to figure out where the problem is coming from.
But let’s look at them all.
Internal Steam problems
These types of errors emerge when your Steam installation is corrupt or not in good shape, or there is corrupted data in the cache. These are errors that usually require only basic technical knowledge to fix.
It sounds obvious, but sometimes the old systems are the most effective, and what you should always do first, especially if the problem is recent. Go to the client and proceed to Steam > Exit to close it. If you close it normally, the client will just be minimized. , then, if you cannot use the menu, open the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and force close the client from there.
If necessary, try restarting your PC. Steam temporarily caches data from its games, and if this data gets corrupted, it can interfere with the operation of the client. Restarting your PC will clear the cache and solve the problem.
Another possible solution is to start Steam as an administrator. To do this, go to the folder where you installed Steam (the default folder is C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam). Once there, right-click on steam.ex → properties → compatibility → open as administrator → ok → open Steam.
Sometimes, the problem depends on a wrong installation or corrupted data. In these cases, uninstalling and re-installing Steam will solve the problem.
Caution. The uninstallation must be done following the official guidelines, or you will lose all your data. At that point, frustration will be the least of your problems. To avoid this, I refer you to the guide for Steam troubleshooting.
External Steam Problems
If you are lucky, your client will start working again without any problems with a simple reboot or reinstallation. If none of these methods work, it means the problem is coming from outside. Meaning: something in your PC is interfering with the proper functioning of the Steam client. In this case, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and start testing all your software and hardware to find your particular intruder. Or follow these tips.
Update Operating System and Drivers
Gaming has high-performance demands, and the Steam Client is no exception. Sometimes, a particular version of an operating system and its drivers may cause compatibility problems. The same can happen with an outdated operating system and drivers.
To fix the problem on Windows, click or press Start → search for “update” → click “Check for available updates. For Mac, drivers cannot be updated separately. The entire operating system must be updated.
Remove external devices
It is recognized that some external devices may cause compatibility problems with the Steam client. Input devices such as controllers require specific drivers and therefore are the most likely culprits for crashes, freezes, or malfunctions.
Remove all non-essential input devices and see if that solves your problem. If you identify the device causing problems, contact the proprietary company and ask if they have a fix you can download.
Some third-party software may conflict with the Steam client, causing crashes, errors, and malfunctions. In this case, Valve offers a list of the most common programs that can create compatibility problems.
Aggressive anti-virus can alter hard disk and network operations, causing problems with Steam’s data flow. It may also tag the protection systems of some games as dangerous programs, causing crashes and interference. The solution is to make sure the anti-virus is not interfering with Steam. If it is doing so, add exceptions for Steam and its games in the AV options.
VPN software may prevent the client from accessing the Steam network. This causes malfunctions with the client, and also with games that need network connection to run. To solve this, configure the VPN so that it does not block traffic from Steam and the games you are interested in.
Firewalls and security applications
Some firewalls and similar applications may be preventing Steam from connecting with the network. To solve this, add exceptions in security applications for Steam and its games.
P2P Clients and File Sharing
File Sharing applications and P2P Clients can consume a substantial amount of your bandwidth. This can leave Steam and the games you are interested in without the resources and connection it needs to run. Avoid having File Sharing software active while using Steam.
FTB Applications and Web Servers
As with File Sharing applications, FTB applications can take up a lot of your bandwidth resources, and can create problems with Steam running properly. The most common examples are databases, HTTP, and many other server software.
IP filtering/blocking programs
These types of programs can interfere with Steam and game connections by blocking or limiting the type of traffic your PC receives.
Download Accelerators and Download Manager Programs
These programs filter and modify your network experience, and can possibly create problems with the connection you need to Steam. Disable them while you are using the client.
Overly aggressive spyware detection software can prevent Steam from connecting to the network or block game connections. Certain features may also fail when under scrutiny by anti-spyware.
In general, all problems with these types of programs can be solved by closing and/or disabling the offending program, exiting, and reactivating Steam. In some cases, it may also be necessary to restart the computer.
A special case is hidden programs. These types of programs may open when you launch your computer, without your knowledge. Given their complexity, it is advisable to ask an expert for help to take care of them, to avoid damaging the system.
As much as preferred by some enthusiasts to maximize performance, Overclocking set the wrong way can cause file and memory corruption, and crash Steam. If the problem continues, it might be a good idea to reset the clocking settings to default and see if that solves your problem with the client.
Check the Hard-Drive
There may be corrupt files in your storage devices. This becomes more likely if your PC is old and is operating under a heavy workload. In this case, the intervention of a specialist is recommended for optimal resolution. You can still use internal PC tools to check for errors.
Memory errors can cause installation problems and interfere with gameplay. It is also best here to seek professional intervention to resolve the problem as best as possible. You can still use internal tools to do a scan.
Check your network
Another possibility that seems obvious but deserves attention is that there are problems with your local network hardware. In particular, it should be noted that the hardware may break down and run slower after a certain period of continuous function. This causes Steam update/launch processes to shut down in the background.
In this case, start by resetting all hardware devices on your local network. For further troubleshooting, I refer you to the official guide on the Steam website.
Contact Steam support.
If none of these methods work, you can always contact Steam support. Once you enter the page, click on Steam’s Client → Steam’s client stops working → contact Steam support. In addition to reading helpful FAQs, you can explain your problem, add screenshots, provide diagnostic results, and more.
While waiting for your problem to be fixed, you might consider using another client temporarily, such as Gog Galaxy. Your problem could be fixed by a patch released by Steam or with a new version of the client.
Crashes, freezes and malfunctions can ruin more than the gaming experience, especially when we are talking about a used game launcher like Steam. For those who want to relax while playing, not having access to their library can be really frustrating. Therefore, it is important to realize the reason behind the problem.
It may be something fixable with a simple reboot, or it may require more thorough testing and control work. But it is worth it. A trouble-free gaming experience is an enjoyable pastime, and finding errors in your PC solves more than just an incompatibility with Steam. It can allow you to prevent problems that could damage your entire computer system in the future.