My bandwidth provider has a window at night where my data isn't counted against my cap. How can I get Steam to download during that window? I know I can set the auto-updater for a specific time, but I want it to pull the game files at that time, too.

  • 6
    Out of interests: where do you live, considering you have a data cap at all?
    – Lg102
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 17:52
  • @Lg102 Probably USA or UK, but I know for a fact that comcast also meters at night, so probably more likely UK.
    – user28015
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 4:06
  • 1
    In the US, but rurally. I have a satellite provider.
    – end-user
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 11:59

5 Answers 5


There is an easy way to achieve this.

Step 1

Start installing all those games you want to download during the night. The initial download of the file list is normally just a few kilobytes. Do not pause any downloads. Then exit Steam.

The Shell Script

Create a text file on your desktop or any other folder and name it steam_download.cmd. Make sure there is no trailing .txt, the icon should change to a window with cogs instead of the text file icon when you renamed it. Then paste the following text into it:

start "steam://"
shutdown /f /s /t 3600 

This first command will launch Steam. It will then automatically continue downloading your games. We will get to the other command after the next step.

The Task

Assuming Windows 7 or later, go to the Start Menu, type "Task" and launch the Task Scheduler. Right-click on the left pane on "Task Scheduler Library" and create a Task.

Name it how you like it, e.g. "Steam Downloads Task".

Then click on the "Triggers" Tab. There click "new". Then choose the time when it should begin. If your ISP's free time starts at midnight, choose 0:05 for example. Set it to one time, daily or weekly, however you want it. In your case, you would probably set it to "one time" and adjust to the date whenever you need it again. Remember to set it to the next day.

Next, click on the actions tab and select "New". Make sure "Start a program" is selected and then click "Browse" and navigate to the script you just made.

Click on the "Conditions" Tab and make sure "Wake Computer to run this Task" is set. It is important to leave your computer on and not shut it down when you go to bed and want Steam to download while you are in dreamland with Xena.

Adjusting the script

Remember the script we just made? Go back to it.

shutdown /f /s /t 3600 

This line will force your computer to shut down. We only want it to shut down after we are done downloading though. Now, there is no way we can know beforehand when it will be done. However, I suggest to set it to the exact time your ISP has unrated hours. So assuming the script starts at midnight and the hours would go until 6 o'clock, you would need to change 3600 to 21600, which is 6 hours. The time value is in seconds, so 3600 is 1 hour.

This would assure that all downloads are stopped. However, if you want to keep your computer on and only want to kill Steam to make sure it stops downloading, there is another way:

 start steam://
 timeout /t 3600 /nobreak
 TASKKILL /f /im "steam.exe"

This would launch Steam and kill it after 1 hour. The time parameter is in seconds here too.


(Ab)Using the Task System and Steam's convenience of continuing downloads after launching it, you can handle this with some effort.

Here is an overview of possible scripts to toy with:

Launch Steam, shutdown after 1 hour, time in seconds

start "steam://"
shutdown /f /s /t 3600 

Launch Steam, hibernate after 1 hour, time in seconds

start "steam://"
shutdown /f /h /t 3600 

Launch Steam, kill Steam after 1 hour, leave computer on, time in seconds

 start steam://
 timeout /t 3600 /nobreak
 TASKKILL /f /im "steam.exe"


If you have Windows Vista, use the last solution since the shutdown command seems to be limited to 10 Minutes. Props to MrLemon for the information.

  • 1
    wow, this is really thorough, thanks! Is it crazy that it has to be this complicated?
    – end-user
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 13:38
  • 6
    Out of curiosity: Why don't you just go to Settings->Downloads->Limit auto-updating schedule and set the times?
    – GiantTree
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 20:54
  • 3
    @GiantTee Because it does not work when you install something. Steam will ignore it. It is only for auto-updates.
    – user28015
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 22:06
  • 2
    I suggest assuming Windows 7 or later. For some retarded reason, the shutdown command's \t flag is capped to 600 (10 minutes) in Vista.
    – MrLemon
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 9:49
  • 1
    @MrLemon Oh I did not know that. I use Windows 7, the limit is 41.6 hours = 2500 minutes. I edited it in.
    – user28015
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 10:39

There is a work-around to turn new game downloads into scheduled updates:

1- configure scheduled updates and set it as the default update method

2- initiate downloads for your new games

3- pause your downloads

4- secret sauce: restart the Steam client to clear the paused download status

5- your new games should now be queued as scheduled updates with "Update Required" status (found on Steam forum)

  • 4
    You don't even have to restart Steam. Just let them start installing, then click Pause, and then click the X next to the game. It will go into "update required" and if you have your updates scheduled for a time window, it will show "Scheduled For ____."
    – statikuz
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 5:56
  • I did it multiple times but downloads just do not start yet! why?
    – Behrouz.M
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 0:24

You can launch a game though a command: steam://rungameid/"appid" (without quotes)

appid's can be found my store page on the url Example: http://store.steampowered.com/app/730/ - 730 is the appid for CSGO

For timing of game launching, windows comes with a task scheduler, you can schedule this steam url to run at a specific time

Now start the download of the game, then pause it, when the task scheduler launches the game, steam will start the download automatically as it is not downloaded.


Steam itself can limit the download rate during certain hours. Open Steam, then Settings, and in the Downloads tab you'll see a "Download Restrictions" option. While it's not possible to completely stop downloads, you can limit the rate to 16 KB/s, which might or might not be exactly what you need, but it's worth mentioning.

  • 1
    This doesn't really solve the problem. The hours setting under the "Download Restriction" completely stops all auto-updates outside the given hours but has no effect on initial installs which are always manually initiated. On the other hand the bandwidth limit affects all downloads, regardless of the time of day or whether it's installing or updating a game. The original poster wants full bandwidth installs, but only at night.
    – user86571
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 16:07

Start installing all those games you want to download during the night. Do not pause any downloads next exit Steam.

In windows under Administrative Tools open Task Scheduler.

Create a Basic Task.

Triggers is the time to do it Action Point it to your STEAM.exe

Look over the rest of the tab of any thing you may need to add you can even have it wake the computer if you need

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