Steam Keeps Freezing: How to Fix on Windows

Steam: the ultimate platform for PC gaming, but one of the most frustrating to troubleshoot. If you’ve ever experienced Steam freezing or not responding, you’ll already know how annoying it can be to deal with. You might lose your progress, miss a multiplayer match, or be forced to stop your gaming session early.

Fortunately, you can take some simple steps if Steam keeps freezing on your Windows PC. We’ll explain how below.

How to Restart Steam

The first thing you should try when Steam freezes is to restart it. It might seem obvious, but restarting Steam can clear any temporary glitches or conflicts that might be causing the problem.

  1. Right-click the Start menu or taskbar and select Task Manager.
    Windows launch task manager
  2. Find a relevant Steam process (e.g., Steam Client WebHelper) in the Processes tab and right-click on it.
  3. Select End task from the menu.
    End the Steam client process
  4. Wait for a few seconds, and then launch Steam again.

How to Launch Steam as Administrator

The Steam app interacts with several other files, including those in protected folders (like the Program Files menu). If Steam freezes when you’re trying to perform a task (like installing a game), it might be because it doesn’t have the necessary permissions to run properly. If this happens, it’s worth trying to launch Steam as an administrator. This will make sure that it has the permissions it needs to access certain files and folders.

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Locate the Steam app in your list of installed applications and right-click it.
  3. Go to More > Run as administrator.
    Launch Steam as an admin
  4. If prompted, click Yes on the User Access Control pop-up.

How to Check for Steam Updates

Steam will usually update itself automatically, but if it fails to do so, or if the app fails during an update, it could cause it to freeze. To fix this, you can manually check for Steam updates and install them (if they’re available).

  1. Launch the Steam app.
  2. Click Steam on the menu bar in the top-left.
  3. Next, select Check for Steam Client Updates from the drop-down menu.
    Check for Steam updates
  4. If there are any updates, Steam will automatically download and install them. Wait for the process to complete—you’ll be alerted to the progress at the bottom of the client window.
    Steam update progress bar

Once the updates are complete, restart Steam and see if it runs smoothly.

How to Clear the Download Cache

Steam uses a download cache to store temporary files and data related to your games and downloads. If this data becomes corrupted and Steam can’t bypass the problem, it could cause your Steam client to freeze. To fix this problem, you’ll need to clear the Steam download cache.

  1. Launch Steam and go to Steam > Settings on the menu bar.
    Open Steam settings
  2. In the Settings window, click the Downloads tab.
  3. Locate the Clear Download Cache section and click Clear Cache.
    Clear download cache Windows 11
  4. Click Confirm to confirm and wait for Steam to clear the cache.
    Clear Steam download cache

Once the cache is cleared, exit Steam and see if the problem is resolved.

How to Update Graphics Drivers

Updated graphics drivers are essential for running games smoothly on your PC. However, if your GPU drivers are outdated or incompatible, they can cause Steam to freeze or crash.

To fix this, you can update your graphics drivers to the latest version and ensure they match your hardware and operating system.

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select Device Manager.
    Open Device Manager in Windows 11
  2. In the Device Manager window, expand the Display adapters category, right-click on your graphics card, and then select Update driver.
    Update graphics driver option
  3. On the next window, click Search automatically for drivers and follow the on-screen instructions to install the driver.
    Update Windows drivers automatically
  4. Alternatively, you can download the driver manually from the manufacturer’s website. You’ll need to run the installer for your particular graphics card driver and follow the on-screen instructions to install it.
    Download page for NVIDIA graphics drivers
  5. Once you’ve installed the driver, restart your PC and launch Steam again.

How to Remove and Reinstall Steam

If none of the above steps work, you might have to remove and reinstall Steam completely. This can fix any corrupted or missing files that might be causing Steam to freeze or not respond. However, before you do this, ensure you backup your saved files to avoid losing them.

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select Settings.
    Open the Settings menu on Windows 11
  2. In Settings, go to Apps > Installed apps.
    List of installed Windows 11 apps
  3. Locate Steam in the list and click the three-dots menu icon to the right of it.
  4. Select Uninstall to remove the app from your PC.
    Uninstall Steam
  5. Confirm your choice by clicking Uninstall again.
    Confirm uninstall in Steam
  6. Follow any on-screen instructions to complete the process.
  7. Once Steam is uninstalled, download the latest version of the client from the Steam website.
    Download button for Steam
  8. Run the installer and follow any on-screen instructions to complete the installation. Once Steam is reinstalled, launch it via the Start menu and sign in using your login details.

Troubleshooting Problems on Steam

If Steam keeps freezing on your PC, the steps above should help you troubleshoot and fix the problem. Is your PC crashing more often than usual? If Windows 11 keeps crashing, you’ll need to look at what other steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem.

If the problem continues, you may need to consider more drastic steps, such as resetting Windows 11 or upgrading your PC.

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