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My friends say it's just me, but whenever Steam updates or downloads - which can take hours - it uses 99% of the CPU, makes everything else slow, and is itself glacial to respond at all. Does anyone else get this and have you ameliorated it somehow?

steam at 99% and most cpu time after system idle

Even after the update and despite the download finishing six hours ago, Steam continues to run at 99% CPU. I had to exit Steam and restart it to get under 90% usage (now it's 2%). However this behavior is frequent enough that I see it as a problem I need to avoid from recurring. Right now, one of the other differences is that the VM size grew from ~15,000K to 84,116K and settled, whereas last time you saw it grew to 229,264K.

My machine has an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ CPU (not dual core), 2GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce 7600-something and 500GB disk space.

99% cpu

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+1 for use of "ameliorated". – phoebus Dec 4 '09 at 7:05
Thanks Diago; steam itself is not a game. It is not running any games while doing this behavior, and it's more like say a bit-torrent client and a messenger rolled into one. – dlamblin Dec 4 '09 at 21:29
This should not be closed; it's not "purely videogame or console related" as Diago claims it to be. The Steam client certainly qualifies as normal "computer software" and it is not a video game itself. With due respect, this is like closing an iTunes question because the asker mentions he was using an iPod Classic, not a Touch (which seems to have questions on here now and then). – Nathaniel Dec 4 '09 at 22:16
It's like closing a Windows question because Windows comes with solitaire. – John T Dec 4 '09 at 22:21
Yah, I am going with a re-open on this one also. Steam is much more than a game store and interface and this question is about overall system performance reguarding that software taking up so many resources. This is not any sort of game performance question. I was skeptical at first, but after reading through, I think this is ok. – Troggy Dec 4 '09 at 22:28
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can have steam check the filesystem (it uses a virtual filessystem in its caches) when you are logged in, I'd give that a go, and you can also make it defrag it now, those steam cache files get very very large and then the system can get overburdened trying to handle it and when you update it has to access it all over. And perhaps you need a bigger pagefile on your windows (or more RAM).

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This might have done the trick actually; though it was a pain to do this for each game I had through steam. – dlamblin Dec 14 '09 at 8:14
Can you please explain this in layman's? How do I do these things? Thanks! – Allen Gingrich Mar 21 '14 at 9:06

You could also be infected with some sort of spyware or virus. I would run a scan before you spend hours defragging your hard drive.

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Thanks, I've done that with AVG and Windows Defender and MS Security Essentials on a regular basis. This being the behavior that does make you wonder about such things. The scan came back as just fine. – dlamblin Dec 4 '09 at 21:31
Get use the free trail version of spyware doctor, it is above and beyond the best. You could also just a bottleneck, setup the performance logs on your computer. Maybe someone can get some data outta that. – Mike K Dec 4 '09 at 22:00

I've noticed this as well. It's really annoying when I'm trying to play a CPU-heavy game on my netbook. In my case, this was caused by the Flash animations on the steam home page in the Store tab on the client. It runs constantly, event when the Steam client is minimized to the system tray.

I tried disabling the Flash add-on in IE, but the Steam client doesn't respect that. In the end, I just click on "your account" in the Store tab every time I start the client. That page doesn't embed any Flash. Problem solved!

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That sounds like good reasoning; though for me it hasn't recurred since checking and defraging each games' files. – dlamblin Dec 30 '09 at 4:04

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