Steam failed to apply updates? Fix it in 5 easy steps

Tashreef Shareef
by Tashreef Shareef
Windows & Software Expert
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The Steam client on your desktop updates itself whenever you exit and relaunch the software. The Steam client looks for an update and then download and install them.

However, at times the updates may fail to apply and show the update failed message.

The full error message reads Steam failed to apply update, reverting. Which means the downloaded updates couldn’t be applied/installed successfully and the changes have been reverted.

If you are facing this error, here are a couple of ways to troubleshoot this error on your Windows device.

Steam failed to install updates and is reverting changes

  1. Disable VPN and Extension
  2. Disable Antivirus
  3. Disable Firewall
  4. Restore the system to an earlier point
  5. Reset your System

1. Disable VPN and Extension

Before you start applying any of the solutions, make sure that you reboot your system once. If that doesn’t help, continue with the troubleshooting steps provided here.

Steam doesn’t like VPN or VPN extensions that you have enabled on your web browser. If you have a VPN client enabled, try to disable it and start Steam.

If you have a VPN extension enabled for any of your web browsers, you may also want to disable it temporarily. Check if disabling the VPN and related extension resolves the error.


2. Disable Antivirus

Quit MalwareBytes Antivirus

Another program known to interfere with the working of the Steam process is Antivirus software. Antivirus software has deep access to your system can affect your disk and network operations resulting in Steam update failed error.

If you have an antivirus solution up and running, make sure that it is not interfering with the Steam client and its operations. You can also disable the Antivirus temporarily and launch Steam to check if it is affecting the update process.


3. Disable Firewall

Your Firewall and firewall configuration may prevent Steam from connecting to its server. First, disable your Firewall and check if Steam updates go through. If it does, you may want to add Steam to the Firewall’s exception list.

To disable the Firewall, do the following:

  1. Click Start and select Settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security > Windows Security.
    Windows security - Firewall and network protection
  3. Click on “Firewall and Network Protection” option.
    System Restore - Choose a different REstore Point
  4. Select your Active Network and turn off Windows Defender Firewall.

4. Restore the system to an earlier point

Windows OS automatically creates a new store point whenever the user installs a new software or Windows update. If the Steam problem is due to a bad Steam update or due to third-party software installation, you can fix the issue by restoring the system to a state where it was working fine.

  1. Type Restore in the Cortana / Search bar and select Create a Restore Point.
  2. Click on System Restore button and then click Next.
    System Restore - Choose a different REstore Point
  3. Select “Choose a Different Restore Point” and click Next.

  4. Check the box “Show more restore points” and select a Restore Point where you think the Steam client was working fine.
  5. Click on Next and then on Finish to complete the System Restore process.

5. Reset your System

As a last resort, you can try to reset your PC to factory default and clean Install windows. Windows offers two Reset options. You can choose to keep your personal files and remove Apps and settings or Remove everything including personal files. Here is how to do it.

Note: Before resetting your PC, create a complete backup of your Steam games data and files. Here is how to do it.

  1. Open “File Explorer” and navigate to the following location:
    C: -> Program Files (x86) -> Steam
    Steam - copy - SteamApp folder
  2. Right-click on SteamApps folder and move it to your backup drive. Once the backup is created, you can proceed with the reset process.

Follow these steps to Reset Windows 10:

  1. Click on Start and select Settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security.
  3. Click on Recovery tab (left pane).
    Reset Windwos 10 PC - Get Started
  4. Under Reset this PC, click on “Get Started“.
    Reset this PC - Choose an Option - Keep My Files
  5. Under “Choose an option”, select “Keep my files” option first. This option as I said will delete all the apps and settings but will keep your personal files.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to reset the PC. After the PC is reset, install Steam and check if the error is resolved.

If the issue persists, you may want to delete everything and perform a clean Windows install.

Note: To fresh install Windows, you need a Windows bootable drive or CD. Make sure you create a bootable Windows 10 flash drive before resetting the PC.

  1. Assuming that you have the bootable Windows 10 flash drive, click on Start > Settings > Update and Security > Recovery.
    Reset this PC - Choose an Option - remove everything
  2. Under “Reset this PC” select “Get Started” and click on “Remove Everything” option. Follow on-screen instructions to factory reset your system.

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