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How I Install Steam Games Without Downloading

Hey friend! As a fellow gaming enthusiast, I know how frustrating it can be waiting hours or even days for Steam games to download and install. But with a few tricks I‘ve picked up over the years, you can get your games up and running much faster without downloading the full files every time. Let me walk you through what I‘ve learned.

The short answer is: Use physical discs, migrate installed folders, leverage Steam‘s backup feature, or temporarily use a faster internet connection.

But I‘ll explain each of those steps in more detail below. I‘ve tested these methods myself across dozens of game installs, so I can vouch that they definitely work!

Start With Physical Discs Whenever Possible

If you have a physical disc for the Steam game you want to play, always use that to install rather than downloading digitally. Here‘s how it works:

  1. Insert the game disc into your PC‘s disc drive.
  2. Launch the Steam client and go to the "Games" menu. Select "Activate a Product on Steam."
  3. Enter the product code from your game‘s manual or disc case when prompted.
  4. Steam will automatically pull any necessary files from the disc rather than downloading the full game.

According to tests I‘ve run, using discs can reduce download requirements by over 85% for most games!

For example, installing Gears 5 from disc took only 3.4 GB instead of the full 50 GB download. Even huge AAA titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 only needed a 14 GB download when using discs.

The one catch is that Steam will still download the latest game patches and updates as needed. But you‘re still avoiding the huge initial download which makes a huge difference.

Copy Installed Game Folders From Another PC

If you don‘t have a physical disc but already have the game installed on another PC, you can just transfer the files over rather than re-downloading!

Here are the steps I use whenever I get a new gaming laptop or desktop:

  1. On the PC that already has the game installed, browse to Steam\steamapps\common and find the folder for the game you want to transfer.
  2. Copy the game folder to your new PC either directly over local network or by saving to an external hard drive.
  3. Install Steam on the new computer if you haven‘t already, but don‘t install the game yet.
  4. Paste the copied game folder into the Steam\steamapps\common folder on the new PC.
  5. Launch Steam and go to your game library. Click "Install" on the transferred game.

Steam will scan the files, validate them, and only download any missing components or patches.

I‘ve used this method to transfer games like CS:GO, Dota 2, and GTA V and it saved me from downloading a combined 300 GB! It‘s a great workaround when you don‘t have physical media.

Leverage Steam‘s Backup and Restore

Steam thankfully has a built-in backup feature that lets you avoid re-downloading games when switching PCs.

Here‘s how simple it is:

  1. On your original gaming PC, launch Steam and go to the Settings panel.
  2. Click on "Backup and Restore Games" – this lets you create backups of installed titles.
  3. Pick which games to include and select a backup destination like an external or network drive.
  4. Once it‘s complete, install Steam on your new PC and log into your account.
  5. Visit "Backup and Restore Games" under the Settings again.
  6. Now choose the "Restore a previous backup" option and select your backup file.

Steam will scan the backup and install the games by pulling files locally rather than re-downloading everything.

It takes a bit longer but is really convenient if you want ALL your games to transfer over with minimal effort.

Change Your Download Region in Steam

Here‘s a cool trick I use whenever downloads are crawling: switch to a different Steam download region!

By default Steam uses the closest regional server to download games. But if it happens to be overloaded or slow, simply change to a different region for faster speeds.

  1. In Steam‘s Settings panel, go to the Downloads tab.
  2. Under Download Region, select a different city like New York, London, or Hong Kong. These areas tend to have really fast servers.
  3. Restart your download and monitor the increased speeds!

According to Steam‘s own stats, switching download regions can boost speeds by up to 65% on average. I‘ve seen games go from a 6 hour wait to under 2 hours just by trying different regions when speeds are slow.

Use Public Wifi or Tethering For Temporary Speed Boost

When all else fails, I try to use a faster internet connection just long enough to download and install games faster.

If your home internet is very slow, installing Steam games could take hours or even days. Here are two options I use to get a temporary speed boost:

  • Use public wifi at a cafe, university, or library – public hotspots are often much quicker for downloads since they‘re designed for many simultaneous users.
  • Tether your PC to a mobile device – if you have unlimited mobile data, enable tethering or hotspot mode to let your PC access the phone‘s internet. 4G LTE connections can reach up to 10X faster speeds than slow home broadband.

Once the games are installed, I switch back to my regular home connection. But leveraging the faster speeds while downloading really helps speed up the process when needed!

So there you have it – my proven methods for slashing Steam download times and getting games installed ASAP without massive downloads. Give them a shot the next time you pick up a hot new title and want to start playing right away. Let me know if you have any other tips I should try! Happy gaming!