The Offline PC setup for Steam is something I have done for several years now, and it has been wonderful (part of my motivation is playing games without Steam remembering my every move).
As mentioned in the comments, any DRM game MUST be launched at least once from the Online Laptop. At first, this might seem like a deal-breaker, but this turns out to be OK.
Also, you have said that you want to avoid copying the entire Steam folder. This turns out to be OK, too, even when there are updates to Steam.
Everything below can be done by simply moving around files/directories, and having some basic knowledge of the Windows Registry. While there are some powerful things you can do with Steam config files, I have avoided any kind of customization since it can change so much between updates.
Step by step:
- Login to the Steam client, with the "Remember my password" box checked
- Make sure any DRM game has been launched at least once from the internet PC
- Copy the entire Steam directory to portable media and over to the Offline PC
Now, from the Online Laptop, open the Windows Registry, and export the following key to a file:
The resulting file should look like this (if there is more, just delete it and keep the parts about "AutoLoginUser" and "RememberPassword"):
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
"AutoLoginUser"="[YOUR STEAM USER NAME - ALL LOWERCASE]"
Copy the exported
.reg file to the Offline PC and import it.
I have been doing this for several years -- and many Steam updates -- and it has been great. There may be times when a Steam update is copied to the Offline PC for the first time and you will be presented with a login screen(!). Just import the
file on the Offline PC again, and it will go back to using your
and allow you to select Offline mode.
Also, I presume that you were trying to avoid updates to Steam and not updates to individual games. I have found the updates to Steam to be harmless. And while I have no first-hand experience with avoiding updates to individual games, they are files/directories like everything else. If you already have an old edition of a game on the Offline PC, you ought to be able to copy the entire Steam folder except the files for that game (located in
If you want to test all this out just to prove to yourself that Offline mode will continue working, that is a good idea. Use an extra PC if you have one. Otherwise, two Steam installations can be run on one PC, since Steam does not actually need to be installed before using it -- you can simply run the Steam executable from portable media (although you may want to backup the registry key
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Valve\Steam and maybe the files in
%LOCALAPPDATA%\Steam, just in case you have an issue later and need to restore your original settings.)