Can I trust that Steam won't install any software such as DRM, DirectX or other libraries before I actually run the game?

The reason I ask is that I'd like to download a sizeable portion of my library. Since that's approaching the terabyte range and could take a week or more I'd like to download all the necessary files to my (always-on) home server and then move them to my desktop. But that server is a clean install of Windows Server 2012 and I really don't want to pollute it with all manner of DRM and other shenanigans.

It used to be that Steam wouldn't run installers until the first run of the program and it certainly seems like Steam still has to configure something after I download a game, but can I fully trust that it won't install anything as part of the download process? All I've found on the subject was a steam forum post from 2015 which is a less-than-authoritative source.

Note: I have checked related questions but none seem to cover this exact scenario. I've only found related questions about moving downloaded games, installing DRM-free games without Steam or the security of the Steam application itself.

2 Answers 2


Steam will try to perform first-time essential setups upon starting a freshly downloaded game. It will however not install anything that is unnecessary. In most cases it will update DirectX and maybe install some .net packages.

In my personal experience DRM games always required a launcher, such as Ubisoft's Uplay or Rockstar's Social Club launcher and as I remember (at least in Rockstar's case) it downloads the launcher alongside the game itself.


From my experience, I see Steam check/install DirectX every time I install a game on a machine. That leads me to believe that it does not install anything until you tell it to bring a game down from your library and onto the machine you want to play it on.

I don't think it has any DRM either, since you have to be logged into a specific account to gain access to your games that are run through Steam. For some games, Steam will give you an access code when you first install the game, but that's a one-time thing and I often just skip it because many games don't even ask for it. You should be safe from said "shenanigans."

TLDR: With over a hundred games and over 4 years of use, I've never seen Steam install anything I didn't tell it to install.

  • Apologies for breaking a beautiful score (1234) with an upvote :p
    – user66184
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:34
  • @Thebluefish Lol, no worries. All good things must come to an end.
    – Kadima
    Aug 9, 2016 at 14:29

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