Fix: “Steam is already running” error

Ivan Jenic By: Ivan Jenic
4 minute read
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Home » Fix » Fix: “Steam is already running” error

If you’re bothered with the “Steam is already running” error when running the Steam desktop client, don’t panic. We have a few solutions for you in the tutorial below.

As we all know, Valve hit the jackpot with Steam. Nowadays, their own game development falls behind digital distribution as that seems to be a more profitable service. So, while the gaming community awaits for Half-life 3, Steam game base is getting larger.

Even though the Steam client receives frequent updates and fixes, some of the issues keep popping up. One of the notable issues is ‘Steam is already running’. According to some users, their client seems active and thus preventing them from starting the game. So, if this is your problem as well, we’ve prepared some troubleshooting for this annoyance.

How to solve ‘Steam is already running’ issue

  1. Kill the process in the Task Manager
  2. Disable possible compatibility modes
  3. Disable known interfering applications
  4. Re-update Steam
  5. Reinstall Steam

Solution 1 – Kill the process in the Task Manager

According to some reports, Steam.exe seems to be working, but the client interface just doesn’t show up. In this case, you should try stopping the process and retry. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Right-click Taskbar and select Task Manager.
  2. Find Steam Client Bootstrapper and stop it.
  3. Exit Task Manager and restart the Steam client.

If the client user interface is not visible, then the problem requires other solutions, which you can find below.

Solution 2 – Disable possible compatibility modes

The solution for some other Steam-related problems is changing the compatibility mode for the client. However, this medicine does have some counter-effects, as it may cause even more problems. It can cause the client malfunction, especially on x64 systems. So, it’s better to revert it to the original settings, and here’s how to do that:

  1. Go to the Steam folder (default location is: C:\Program Files\Steam).
  2. Find the Steam application file.
  3. Right-click and open Properties.
  4. Open Compatibility tab.
  5. Uncheck all boxes except Run as administrator.steam compatibility modes
  6. Save and restart the Steam client.

Solution 3 – Disable known interfering applications

As the Steam tech support stated, there are some background applications that occasionally interfere with Steam. According to them, those applications can slow down or even prevent Steam from working. Since we are into the saying ‘better safe than sorry’, here is the list of apps you should stop while running the Steam client:

  • Anti-Virus Applications
  • Anti-Spyware Applications
  • Firewall/Security Applications
  • Torrent and Download Applications
  • VoIP Applications
  • Peer 2 Peer Applications

Try disabling their respective processes to prevent possible conflicts with Steam. If the problem persists, move on to the next solution.

Solution 4 – Re-update Steam

In some occasions, Steam files get corrupted or incomplete. Most of the time, the problem lies in some malware infections. Those things can ruin your life for sure! However, once you’ve scanned your PC and the malicious software is out, you should re-update your Steam client. To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. Exit Steam completely.
  2. Go to the Steam client installation location. The default location should be C:\Program Files\Steam\.
  3. Find ClientRegistry.blob and back it up. Just copy and paste on your desktop.
  4. Delete all files in a folder except Steam.exe and steamapps folder (we don’t want to delete all games, don’t we?)
  5. Start Steam and let it update.

On the next start, Steam client will update and possibly fix the issues. If the problem remains unresolved, we give you a final you can try to deal with this problem.

Solution 5 – Reinstall Steam

Yes, reinstall. If none of the solutions from above helped, the reinstallation should work it out. Since the program is not as large as you think, the whole process is fast and as easy. Albeit, the reinstallation procedure requires you to delete some associated files and, possibly, some registry entries. You can also use a third-party uninstaller, just don’t forget to backup your games as those will be deleted, too.

Do as follows:

  1. Exit Steam
  2. Move the Steamapps folder out of C:\Program Files\Steam (or custom location) to keep game installations.delete steam associated files after uninstall
  3. Click the Control Panel.
  4. Open the Add or Remove Programs.
  5. Select Steam from the list and click the Change/Remove button.
  6. Select the Automatic option and click Next.
  7. Click Finish to uninstall Steam.
  8. Restart your PC and download client installer from the official site.
  9. Install Steam.

These were our possible solutions for this issue. You should start from top to bottom and try them out. Hopefully, they’ll help.

If you are having some other workarounds or ideas, please share them with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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