Steam is the largest video game platform in the world and offers many amazing features, but it isn’t without its flaws.
Like countless other computer programs, Steam might eventually greet you with the misfortune of an unexpected error.
This could happen at a very inconvenient time, such as when you’re excited to spend a few hours playing with friends or embarking on a solo quest. You will probably be frustrated, but there’s no need to panic!
One of the most infamous errors that users experience on Steam is the “Could not connect to Steam Network” message, also known as the “Steam Not Connecting” message.
In this guide, you will find everything you need to fix this annoying connection error in 2021.
Note that this error may also be Steam's fault and not necessarily your own. We recommend checking Down Detector's page on Steam and check the down reports and comments for further clarification.
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Fix 1: Check Your Internet Connection
It might sound obvious, but a poor internet connection may be the reason that you can’t connect to the Steam Network.
It’s easy for a connection error to go unnoticed at times, so your internet access might already have failed before trying to load Steam in the first place.
It’s worth getting this out of the way before moving on to the other fixes.
Do not waste your time re-installing the client or doing anything else if the issue lies with your internet connection.
Fix 2: Run Steam Client As An Administrator
This is the second solution on the list because it’s also very straightforward, and it does the trick for many users.
Simply right-click the Steam shortcut and left-click on “Run as Administrator,” then try logging into your account.
This will most likely work for you, as it has worked for numerous other users. You can see the necessary steps below:
Fix 3: Change UDP To TCP In Your Steam Executable File
Another well-known fix for the “Could not connect to Steam Network” error is to change how your computer communicates with the Steam network from the UDP protocol to TCP. Don’t worry, this is really simple!
Here is how you do it:
Find the directory where Steam is installed on your computer. Right-click the Steam shortcut and select “Properties.”
In the Properties window, navigate to the “Shortcut” tab, as shown in the screenshot below. This will sometimes be selected automatically.
In the “Target” section, add “-tcp” to the end of what’s already written in the field. Remember to click “Apply” before pressing “OK.”
Remember to do this while the Steam app isn’t running. Once you complete the process, simply start Steam again and log into your account. The problem should be fixed.
For The Curious
If you’re technically minded, you might want to know what changes when you switch from UDP to TCP.
Read on for the explanation. Skip this section if you only want to solve the problem and aren’t interested in the tech part.
By adding the “-tcp” suffix, you force Steam to exclusively use TCP Packets for your connection. There are two primary types of packets used to send data over the net. UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). Steam uses UDP unless you tell it otherwise.
What are the main differences between TCP and UDP?
TCP means that, after the connection is established, the built-in systems check for errors and ensure data will be successfully transferred. It is more reliable, but it’s also slower and results in greater bandwidth and network usage.
UDP, on the other hand, doesn’t use the “handshake” method. This means data transfer always happens, regardless of whether or not the intended recipient receives it.
Fix 4: Make Sure Your Network Drivers Are Up To Date
Using outdated drivers for any PC component is a potential issue and can significantly impact performance. To make the most of your hardware, you should always ensure that all of your drivers are up to date!
Steam users have reported that updating your network drivers can fix the “Could not connect to Steam Network” issue.
We’ll explain how to achieve this, step by step.
Manually updating your drivers is recommended, but not always necessary. If you aren’t very tech-savvy, confident, or you simply can’t be bothered, you can use automatic driver update software instead.
If you decide to update manually, here is how you do it:
Use the search box on your Windows taskbar and type in “Device Manager“, as shown in the screenshot below. Click the top result that appears.
Once inside the Device Manager section, left-click the “Network Adapters” tab. The menu will automatically drop down, and you can select the adapter that you wish to update the driver for.
Right-click the adapter and select “Update driver”. You should see a menu similar to the screenshot below.
Fix 5: Completely Uninstall The Steam Client And Re-Install It
Sometimes, the simplest solutions help the most. However, before you completely re-install your Steam app, you need to back up your games. Steam is not a large app by itself, but re-downloading all of your games can consume more than a terabyte of download data if you have a lot of them.
Fortunately, re-installing Steam is very easy.
Simply uninstall it from the control panel and re-download it again from the official website.
If you already have an installation file downloaded, you can use that instead. It doesn’t make much difference, as the app automatically downloads the latest version and updates itself on launch.
Getting excited to play a game, only to be greeted by the common “Could not connect to Steam Network” error is a very frustrating experience. However, you shouldn’t feel discouraged as this is a well-known issue among the Steam community.
In this guide, you viewed five simple solutions found to be of great use. Anyone can try these fixes, even people who are not technically minded or aren’t PC enthusiasts.
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that the Steam network will sometimes be down for regular or unexpected maintenance. If none of the above fixes solve your problem, the issue may be on Steam’s end.
PSA: Regular Steam maintenance takes place on Tuesdays.