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I talked to Steam Support about Steam Offline. I have been told:

You can set up your Steam account to run in offline mode prior to connecting to your school's network […] you must allow Steam to complete necessary updates in order to enable Offline mode (you must establish a temporary connection to the internet for this reason).

So, I can't go offline while offline. I must remember to go offline while online, or I'm gently caressed. I don't always have this luxury, however.

I've tried using my mobile's internet connection for this purpose. However, much to my surprise, Steam now fails to connect through that as well. Why, thank you so much, Wind.

I'm thus left with two possibilities to enable offline mode while offline:

  • A VPN, or
  • The Tor network.

Does Steam work through either them? I just need it to connect to the network for long enough to realize that there are no updates, after all, and that it's okay to let me play my games.

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2  
You can use offline mode after you have logged in (and stored your login information). If you've done that properly, it will give to option to go offline if it can't connect. –  user56 May 11 '11 at 14:52
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@Arda If I try to go offline while offline, Steam will go in denial and look for updates. At this point going offline is no longer an option. –  badp May 11 '11 at 14:54
    
@badp Which is why I said "after you have logged in (and stored your login information)". That screenshot only shows up when you have a seriously outdated Steam client, which fails that prerequisite. –  user56 May 11 '11 at 15:42
    
@arda You know perfectly well I was playing on Steam just yesterday. –  badp May 11 '11 at 16:08
    
@badp Still, that only shows up when Steam decides it hasn't updated in far too long. –  user56 May 11 '11 at 16:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

A VPN takes over the entire OS' connection. It is program-independent. As such, a VPN will work.

Tor is more doubtful, because I don't think Steam supports a SOCKS proxy out of the box. There are programs out there that force a certain program to go through a SOCKS proxy though (which I couldn't find on a quick Google. I'll have a look around).

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I wouldn't be so sure about VPN; it is explicitly listed as one of the things that may cause Steam to fail, while other sources claim it'll work. –  badp May 11 '11 at 14:56
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@badp You should always take those lists with a few grains of salt. Valve is only covering their bases there. I've used at least a dozen applications on that list simultaneously with Steam with zero problems. –  user56 May 11 '11 at 15:00
    
I know; that's why I'm asking people who might have actually tried them :) –  badp May 11 '11 at 15:11
    
@badp I've used VPNs before, successfully, but it depends on your situation. YMMV –  user56 May 11 '11 at 15:59

I would think Tor would have much much much too high latency, if it routed the traffic at all.

VPNs are usually paired with firewalls, and firewalls, if configured correctly, will only allow traffic on specific, whitelisted, ports.

Steam uses a lot of unusual ports:

Steam Client

    UDP 27000 to 27015 inclusive (Game client traffic)
    UDP 27015 to 27030 inclusive (Typically Matchmaking and HLTV)
    TCP 27014 to 27050 inclusive (Steam downloads)
    UDP 4380

Dedicated or Listen Servers

    TCP 27015 (SRCDS Rcon port)

Steamworks P2P Networking and Steam Voice Chat

    UDP 3478 (Outbound)
    UDP 4379 (Outbound)
    UDP 4380 (Outbound)

If your VPN restricts ports higher than 1024, you're out of luck. Some (older) admins will allow traffic on 1024+ since most important network services run on ports lower than 1024, but its common to block EVERYTHING, and only allow very specific traffic to cut down on the ability of trojans and such, to communicate.

My experience with Steam is, once you've connected one time, the client will try to connect, then default to offline if it fails.

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"VPNs are usually paired with firewalls" None of the VPNs I've ever used (the consumer kind, not the corporate kind) have had any kind of firewall behind them, not outbound anyway. –  user56 May 11 '11 at 16:47
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@arda Who uses consumer grade VPN point-to-point? –  Satanicpuppy May 11 '11 at 17:01
    
@Satan Latency isn't a problem. I'd just need Tor for as much time to get online and from there switch to offline mode. –  badp May 11 '11 at 17:23
    
@Satanicpuppy Doesn't have to be point-to-point. I doubt there's a VPN that Steam's connected to, much less gameservers. –  user56 May 11 '11 at 17:27
    
@arda: Why would steam be connected to a virtual private network? That doesn't even make sense. A VPN is basically a LAN (more properly a WAN) with the connections between the clients made through encrypted connections across the internet, rather than being hardwired (or wireless). And, just as with a LAN, your connection to the internet is routed through a local gateway. That is how you'd connect to steam from a VPN. You wouldn't VPN directly into Valves network. –  Satanicpuppy May 11 '11 at 19:21

When I tried to connect to steampowered.com 2 days ago via Tor I kept getting a 501 error from the site with the message 'server explicitly dropped connection'. Which I guess means they're somehow picking up that it's an incoming Tor connection and cutting it off.

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