On Steam, whenever a download is taking place, there are two progress bars: One on the bottom which is global to the Steam application, and the other is only visible in the Downloads screen.

I am referring, of course, to this bar: Bar

  • The difference is that the big general steam download bar only shows up when you are in fact downloading, while the one you took the screenshot also show's the installation progress. At least that's what i remember, i have no way of testing it right now
    – Jubatus
    Feb 3, 2015 at 7:03
  • Installation progress? But in the picture above, are you telling me that more than 75% of the installation has completed when only 5% of the download is finished? Feb 3, 2015 at 7:05
  • The reason i'm commenting is beacuase I'm only speculating, so please don't take my answer as tested or researched. Sometimes before an effective update there is a short time where the application "prepares" for the download, or maybe its installing update for a certain engine/package needed for the game. Lets say a game updated it's direct x packages, it might download them before update the game itself.
    – Jubatus
    Feb 3, 2015 at 7:10
  • It could be the percentage of files that has been edited to fully contain 0s', waiting to be replaced with actual data when the download finishes maybe?
    – aytimothy
    Feb 3, 2015 at 11:38

3 Answers 3


The bar at the bottom represents the download progress, which is measured simply in amount downloaded vs. total amount to download, both in bytes.

The bar for the individual games represents patching progress, measured in patch changes applied to the game files.

But in the picture above, are you telling me that more than 75% of the installation has completed when only 5% of the download is finished?

The two bars may progress in a different way:

  • There may be many small changes in an update. These small changes can be easy to compress, thus having a tiny effect on the download bar while accounting for most of the patching progress.

  • Combined with new, larger files which will weigh much more on the download bar than on the patching bar, you get a discrepancy.

In your specific case, I imagine the "many small differences"-bit was downloaded first, representing most of the changes needing to be made, before larger, single-change files (new content?) were added.

  • 1
    This is an educated guess, not an authoritative answer. I happened to have an incoming patch while reading your question that had the opposite effect from yours, and I spent some time watching its file activity, but I might well be wrong.
    – JvR
    Feb 3, 2015 at 11:55
  • Hm. That does seem legit, but is there any way to test it? Sadly there are no resources detailing each of Steam's UI elements. Feb 3, 2015 at 17:00

That bar that you have highlighted, that appears on each individual game in the download section is the update / download progress of the individual game. That bar in the screenshot is telling you that Dota2 is updating, probably due to a patch, and that is the progress of the update.

You have auto update enabled, therefore any time Valve releases a patch for Dota2 you will see that update occurring.


It's the game installation/update progress. That includes everything to have the game up and running, without counting the first time setup.

So it includes data allocation, download, unpack and install.

The lower global bar represents the same but globally, that is, it counts all your current installation processes.

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