How To Fix “Steam Needs To Be Online To Update” Error

Steam is a platform for gamers to play, purchase, and communicate with other gamers. This platform was created…

Steam Valve Steam needs to be online to update Error

Steam is a platform for gamers to play, purchase, and communicate with other gamers. This platform was created by the developer Valve, who creates PC games. They also offer a Steam client, which installs on your computer (Windows and MacOS) for a convenient gaming experience.

The games downloaded and installed through the Steam platform then need to be updated from time to time, but in certain cases, users have reported experiencing the following fatal error message:

Steam needs to be online to update. Please confirm your network connection and try again.

This error is fine if you are not connected to the internet at all. But what to do when you have an active internet connection that is working fine, but you still get this error?

A fatal error occurs when software throws a prompt without any intimation or warning without saving its current state.

Today we are going to discuss how to resolve this issue so that you can refocus on what’s really important – gaming.

Why Steam Needs to be Online to Update?

The statement the error shows makes sense – you cannot update the software without a repository to access the new files. However, what we are addressing today is the fact that the internet connection is present, but Steam is still unable to update itself or the game in its library.

This error can occur due to any one of the following reasons:

  • Your computer is not connected to the internet.
  • A proxy, firewall, or antivirus software blocks Steam from connecting to its respective server(s).
  • Your user account does not have the elevated privileges required to perform the update.
  • DNS Server is incorrectly configured.

After considering the user feedback online, it was concluded that even reinstalling the game or the Steam client didn’t resolve the issue. With that, we are going to address the plausible issues listed above and get Steam up and running again.

Resolve “Steam needs to be online to update” in Windows 11/10

Disable Proxy Settings

Proxy servers are devices that are put between you, an end-user,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌internet. Contrary to a user directly connected to his router at home, a proxy server is an additional router that sits between you and the actual router. Your computer then needs to be configured to communicate with the proxy server.

In case of an improper proxy setting, Steam can be blocked from communicating with its respective server(s) and is thus unable to update itself or any of the games in its library.

Therefore, you must disable the proxy settings on your Windows computer. Here is how:

  1. Navigate to the following:

    Settings app >> Network and internet >> Proxy
  2. Here, toggle the slider in front of “Automatically detect settings” into the Off position.

    Disable automatic detection of settings
    Disable automatic detection of settings
  3. Now click Edit in front of “Use a proxy server.”

    Note: If you see “Set up” instead of “Edit,” it means that manual proxy configuration has not been made on your computer and you do not need to perform this or any of the following steps.

    Edit proxy setting
    Edit proxy settings
  4. Now toggle the slider to the Off position under “Use a proxy server” and then click Save.

    Toggle off proxy
    Toggle off proxy

The proxy settings will now be disabled. Try rerunning the update and see if the problem is still there. If so, then continue to perform the solutions discussed below.

Alternatively, you can also try other methods to disable proxy if you do not prefer to use the Settings app.

Disable Windows Firewall

Windows firewall can be blocking ports by default. The ports are used to listen to incoming traffic, and if they are blocked, Steam will be unable to perform any updates.

Follow these steps to disable the firewall entirely:

Note: We do not recommend that you keep the firewall disabled indefinitely, since it is a security risk. Thus, we suggest that you disable it only while performing the Steam update.

  1. Open Windows Firewall by typing in firewall.cpl in the Run Command box.

    Open firewall
  2. Now click Turn Windows Defender Firewall on or off from the left.

    Manage Windows firewall
    Manage Windows firewall
  3. Now select Turn off Windows Defender Firewall under every network profile visible. Once done, click OK to save changes.

    Turn off firewall
    Turn off firewall

Once the firewall is turned off, recheck Steam to see if you still get the same fatal error. If so, keep these firewall settings and proceed with the given solutions below until the problem is resolved.

Disable Antivirus

The built-in Windows Defender Antivirus in Windows 11 and 10, or any other third-party antivirus, can also hinder Steam’s communication with its server(s). Try disabling them and check if it resolves the issue.

Learn how to disable Windows Defender temporarily. If you are using a third-party antivirus, you must disable it also.

Once disabled, check if you are now able to update the game(s) inside the Steam library or the Steam client itself.

Run Steam in Compatibility Mode

Running software in “Compatibility Mode” allows it to use settings intended for earlier versions of Windows. Try running the Steam client in Compatibility Mode using the following steps:

  1. Right-click on Steam’s icon and then click Properties from the context menu.

    Open Properties
    Open Properties
  2. In the Properties window, switch to the “Compatibility” tab. From there, check the box next to “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and then select Windows 8 from the drop-down menu under it.

    Run in Compatibility Mode
    Run in Compatibility Mode

    Once done, click Apply and Ok to save the changes.

Now re-run the Steam app and check to see if the issue persists. If it does, try giving it complete administrative access.

Grant Steam Full Control & Administrative Rights

Sometimes the lack of privileges for the Steam app throws the “Steam needs to be online to update” error. Here is how you can give them the rights required to perform the updated action:

  1. Navigate to the Steam installation folder using File Explorer, which by default is at the following location:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam
  2. Here, right-click on the “Steam.exe” application and then click Properties from the context menu.

    Open Properties2
    Open Properties
  3. In the Properties window, switch to the “Compatibility” tab. Here, check the box next to “Run this program as an administrator” in the Settings section, then click Apply and Ok.

    Run Steam exe as admin
    Run Steam.exe as admin
  4. Now repeat steps 2 & 3 for GameOverlayUI.exe and allow it to run with administrative privileges as well.

    Run GameOverlayUI exe as an admin
    Run GameOverlayUI.exe as an admin
  5. Now you must grant full control of all Steam files. To do so, go back to the directory (to Program Files (x86)) in the file Explorer, right-click on the Steam directory, and then click Properties.

    Open Steam Properties
    Open Steam Properties
  6. From the Properties window, switch to the “Security” tab, and then click Advanced.

    Open Advanced settings
    Open Advanced settings
  7. Now click Disable inheritance from the Advanced Security Settings window. When asked what you would like to do with the currently inherited permissions, click Convert inherited permissions into explicit permissions on this object.

    Disable inheritance
    Disable inheritance
  8. From the “Permission entries,” double click the row you want to edit (not with Full Control).

    Double click permission entry
    Double click permission entry
  9. From the pop-up window, select Full Control, and then click Ok.

    Give full control
    Give full control
  10. Now click Apply and OK in the Advanced Security Settings window to save the changes.

Now restart your Steam client and you should not be having the same error message again. If you still do, there are still a few tricks up our sleeves that can mitigate the issue.

Change Steam Protocol from UDP to TCP

Steam uses User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which is a connectionless protocol, by default. We can change this to Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) instead which quite often works in resolving the “Steam needs to be online to update” error.

Here is how to change the protocol from UDP to TCP:

  1. Right-click on the Steam shortcut on your desktop and click Properties from the context menu.

    Open Properties
    Open Properties
  2. In the Properties window, switch to the “Shortcut” tab. Here, type in “-tcp” at the end of the Target field.

    The Target text field should look something like this:

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Steam.exe" -tcp
    Change protocol to TCP
    Change protocol to TCP

    Once done, click Apply and Ok.

With TCP protocol, administrative privileges for the Steam client and compatibility mode, you should no longer experience this annoying error.

However, if the issue still persists, here’s what we can do.

Refresh Steam Files

It may be possible that some of the Steam files have been corrupted and are thus no longer able to update itself or any games within the library. You can recreate Steam files by deleting the old ones, and the client will fetch new ones automatically.

Follow these steps to safely delete the Steam files:

  1. Navigate to the Steam installation folder using File Explorer, which by default is at the following location:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam
  2. In this directory, select all the files using the CTRL + A shortcut keys. Once all are selected, continue holding down the CTRL key and unselect the following 2 items:

    • Steamapps (folder)
    • Steam.exe (application)
  3. Now hit the Delete button and remove everything except those 2 items.

    Only the above-mentioned 2 items should remain.

    Undeleted items
    Undeleted items
  4. Now restart your computer.

Once it reboots, return to the Steam directory and run the Steam app. The files will then be downloaded automatically.

Fresh files being downloaded
Fresh files being downloaded

Check now to see if you still get the “Steam needs to be online to update” error.

If so, continue to perform the following possible solutions:

Switch DNS

The cause of the problem could be a misconfigured DNS. You can therefore try changing it to Google’s Domain Name Server (DNS) using the following guide:

  1. Navigate to the following:

    Settings app >> Network and internet >> Advanced network settings
  2. Here, expand the network adapter you are using (Wi-Fi or ethernet) then click View additional properties under it.

    View additional properties
    View additional properties
  3. Here, click Edit in front of “DNS server assignment.”

    Edit DNS
    Edit DNS
  4. You will now see an “Edit DNS settings” popup. Here, perform the following configurations:

    1. From the drop-down menu: Manual
    2. Toggle slider under “IPv4” into the On position.
    3. Preferred DNS:
    4. Alternate DNS:
    Configure DNS
    Configure DNS

    Once done, click Save.

  5. Now reset the TCP/IP stack.

After performing the steps, try updating your Steam game and check if the issue is still there. If you still see the error message, there is one more thing you can do to fix the problem.

Change Steam’s Windows Registry

You can manually edit the system registry to configure Steam to not detect that it is offline, ever. This can be done using the following steps:

Note: Misconfiguration of critical values in the system’s registry could be fatal for your operating system. Therefore, we insist that you create a system restore point before proceeding with the process.

  1. Open the Registry Editor by typing in regedit in the Run Command box.

    Open Registry Editor
  2. Here, paste the following into the navigation bar at the top for quick navigation:

    Quick navigation in Windows Registry
    Quick navigation to Windows Registry
  3. Right-click on the Steam key in the left pane, expand New, and then click DWORD (32-bit) Value.

    Create new DWORD 1
    Create new DWORD
  4. Name this DWORD “Offline.”

  5. Double-click Offline and set its Value Data to 0. Click OK when done.

    Set Value Data
    Set Value Data
  6. Now restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

Note: The steps above will still allow you to run the Steam client offline to play games whilst offline.

Now check to see if you can update the Steam library games and the client itself.

Closing Words

It can be frustrating when a game cannot be updated because most modern-day updates include new maps, security patches, skins, characters, and so much more. It would be a shame if you are unable to get them before your friends do.

You can fix the issue yourself, without having to reinstall the Steam client. If you have a proxy enabled, disable it. Also, disable any firewalls or antivirus software to mitigate the issue. If that does not work, try running the client with administrative privileges.

If the problem still does not go away, try using Google’s DNS, or perform a registry trick to keep Steam online.

Also see:

Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).

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