How can I get Steam to stop downloading updates automatically as soon as an update is released for a game like CS:S?

It's just that I am running on mobile broadband at the moment and Steam loves to find the biggest update possible to waste my money when I'm on mobile broadband. I have right-clicked the game that updates and unticked the automatic updating.

Why is Steam downloading huge-ass updates even when I have told it not to?

  • 1
    Steam allows some games to be started in offline mode, but before that, updating the steam app and the game to its latest version is mandatory. So, you won't have much luck in your cause.
    – DrFish
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 9:20
  • is closing steam or going into offline mode not an option? surely you will not be playing games online while on mobile broadband?
    – Colin D
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 20:53
  • Bit late but hey... Honestly, Mobile broaband isnt as bad as you think it is for online gaming. I own a Minecraft server and I go to my static caravan every 2 weekends and I use it just fine for that along with other games like CSS and Gmod. People dont give mobile broadband enough credit Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 22:59
  • I appreciate it @pinckerman however these settings are what you see in my first screenshot and I am trying to completely prevent the game/software from updating even if I open it.
    – Monstar
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 19:52
  • 3
    As suggested in the other answer: "The only way to prevent auto-updating is to run Steam in offline mode"
    – pinckerman
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 20:05

7 Answers 7


There is no generic setting in Steam that prevents updates

There is no generic setting within Steam that prevents game updates from automatically being downloaded. The only way to prevent auto-updating is to run Steam in offline mode - which will prevent you from playing Steam games online.

It is not possible to prevent Steam client updates from being downloaded while the client is in 'Offline' mode.

There is a per game setting, though...

There is a per-game setting which allows you to disable updates for individual games, which is accessible by right clicking on a game in your library, and selecting properties and choosing "Do not automatically update this game":

Individual game settings

It is worth noting that if you're playing a game on Steam, all Steam downloads are automatically paused unless you select the download option "Allow Downloads During Gameplay" (which is available through the Steam menu > Settings > Downloads category, at the bottom), so you shouldn't experience Steam downloading files while playing Steam games. Note that this setting will not prevent Steam from downloading updates when you're playing a non-Steam game.

Now there is a generic Downloads Restriction setting, too!

Under Steam > Settings > Downloads, there is now an option available that allows you to specify a specific time frame to download updates. If you know you're going to be using mobile data for a specific time frame, you could use this functionality as a workaround to ensure that updates are not downloaded during that specific time frame:

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  • 2
    It's worth noting that the "do not auto-update" setting is here since a few years, and didn't work properly for most of the time - it's not even clear if it works right now. The only safe way is to be in offline mode. Completely offline, as in - turn off your wireless network, pull the network plugs. Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 12:52
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    All this setting seems to do prevent Steam from checking for updates for Mass effect when Steam is started. This does not prevent Steam from installing an update that been release before Mass Effect is actually launched. It is my understanding that game updates and steam client updates are both required to be installed. You can choose when they are installed of course, unless you are trying to play a game, and an update has been released since the last time you launched Steam.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 13:28
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    As mentioned - The only way to prevent auto-updating is to run Steam in offline mode
    – kalina
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 13:30
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    @deworde; Yes? How would it not be? Downloading generally seeks to maximise bandwidth usage, online netcode generally seeks to minimise it. If you're ever in a situation where online play is heavier on your connection than downloading a large file then you have some awful netcode.
    – Phoshi
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 19:04
  • 8
    This 'per-game' setting has since been removed from Steam. Any other ideas?
    – GnomeSlice
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 20:37

Answer would be - it depends. Some games require activation, and it might start downloading soon after the activation is over. Try starting Steam in offline mode and then launch the game - and see if it works

  • 1
    Didn't work. It restarted downloading the game update. Also said something along the lines of "this game is not ready to be played yet" stupid steam
    – Kurru
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 17:35
  • @Kurru Sorry, guess you're out of luck then. Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 22:08

If you have the actual disc, or a Steam backup disc, then yes.

Once a Steam game is installed, you can go to your Steam library, right-click the game's name, choose Properties, click the Updates tab, and change the Automatic Updates dropdown to "Do not automatically update this game."

It's a good idea to go into Offline mode before doing this, or launching Steam while not connected to a network so that it doesn't start downloading the update automatically.

Important Note: Turning off auto-update is almost worthless on multiplayer games, as the servers tend to run the latest version. This includes such popular games as Counter-Strike (original and Source) and Team Fortress 2.

  • 1
    Turning off auto-update was already done, which steam ignored :-/ And it was initially installed from a DVD and then again from my other computers backup disc (which then triggered a new 6GB file download... fail)
    – Kurru
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 17:36
  • That's... weird. No clue what's up with that, then.
    – user2974
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 19:50

This method is a bit of a hack and not officially supported by Valve (i.e. it might break in the future). However, it has the advantage that you won't be able to accidentally trigger an unwanted update by playing the game while Steam is still running and online (but I would still recommend making a backup of the installation directory, just in case), and it has worked for at least the last 3 years, so Valve does not appear to be in any rush to fix it.

  1. Find the app ID of your game. You can discover this number by going to the game's store page, right clicking anywhere, choosing "copy page URL," pasting it into Notepad (or any text editor), and extracting the number from the URL. For example, if you have the URL https://store.steampowered.com/app/1234567/Name_of_Game/, then 1234567 is the number we want.
  2. Go to the game in your Library, and click (gear icon) > Manage... > Browse local files. This will open a file explorer window.
  3. Go up two levels. You should see a bunch of files with names like appmanifest_1234567.acf, as well as some other files and folders.
  4. Find the appmanifest file that corresponds to your game (has the same number we found earlier).
  5. Right click the file, select "Properties", and check the read-only box, then click OK.
    On non-Windows platforms: Deny write permission, by whatever means your platform normally uses. On most Unix-like systems (macOS and Linux), the terminal command chmod a-w filename will remove all write permissions from filename. In most cases, chmod ug+w filename is the correct way to reverse this operation. I have also seen reports that this is insufficient, and you instead need to run something like sudo chattr +i filename (which is reversible with sudo chattr -i filename). sudo is the typical way of running a command with elevated privileges on most Unix-like systems, but your system might be different, and so you might need to modify these commands or run them under a root shell instead of using sudo.
  6. When you want to launch the game, you will have to run the exe directly, instead of clicking "play" in Steam. However, you don't have to quit Steam or put it into offline mode.
  7. If you later change your mind and want to update, you will need to repeat this process, and uncheck the read-only box. Otherwise, Steam will refuse to update the game. This won't affect updates for any other games.

This has been tested extensively with Skyrim: Special Edition, and is confirmed to work for that game. I believe it should work for most games, but it is possible that it might fail to work if the game does something weird with its Steam integration (e.g. a game could manually check its version against whatever Steam says is the latest version, and refuse to run if it's outdated).

  • Will that still show that i'm playing the game on steam? Because that would be perfect for me in that case.
    – Monstar
    Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 14:09
  • 1
    @Monstar: I have not tested it (I have that setting disabled for privacy reasons), but I believe that it will, because it shows as such in the overlay, IIRC.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 3:59

Try running the game with steam in "offline mode". I'm not sure what will happen if you switch to this if steam has already started downloading an update, but I think it's your best bet.


I'm only aware of two methods:

  1. Close out of Steam and open the game's .exe manually. Its location can be found from Steam --> Right click game --> Properties --> Local Files --> Browse.
    Unfortunately some game exe's open Steam, so this method doesn't work for all games.

  2. Start Steam in offline mode from Steam toolbar --> Steam --> Go Offline. Then it won't attempt to update before launching the game.

  • I took down my answer because I didn't know the other post existed until I read pinckerman's comment lol. Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 20:18

You can do it by opening Steam without internet then connect and then go online. However, if the game already started updating, you HAVE to let it finish or else steam won't let you play it.

  • 1
    yes, but you can't play a game on steam without activating it at least once, which requires internet
    – Kurru
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 1:32

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