Steam failed to apply updates or reverts [5 solutions]

by Elena Constantinescu
Elena Constantinescu
Elena Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
Elena started writing professionally in 2010 and hasn't stopped exploring the tech world since. With a firm grasp of software reviewing and content editing, she is always trying... read more
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  • Steam automatically checks and applies updates at every startup, but it can fail to do so, resulting in the Failed to apply update, reverting error message.
  • You'll be able to get rid of this error by disabling any VPN browser extensions and clearing Steam's download cache.
  • A long-term solution is to use a premium VPN with a powerful split tunneling mode.
  • If Steam fails to apply updates and reverts, try to add exceptions for the app and games in your firewall.
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Keep in mind that your Steam desktop client checks and applies new updates automatically, every time you launch the gaming service.

However, it might occasionally fail to install the latest version, resulting in the Failed to apply the update, reverting error message.

Here’s an example:

The steam client will go through the standard startup procedure but at the end of it will simply say: Failed to apply update reverting.

This would not be an issue except for the fact that i cannot acess the store anymore nor does the popup for offers work, they simply display a blackscreen of nothing, the store appears to be loading but does so endlessly and displayes nothing at all.

After going through the solutions we listed in this article, we finally got the Steam Store to work the way it should.

Why does Steam fail to apply updates and reverting?

When updating a game, Steam might display an error message that looks like this:

An error occurred while updating [game title]

or

An error occurred while installing [game title]

This kind of error results when Steam is not able to complete the installation. Keep in mind that the specific reason for the error will be shown in the parenthesis at the end of the error message.

What can I do if Steam fails to apply updates?

1. Disable any VPN browser extensions

If you have a VPN addon installed in your web browser, turn it off. It seems that Steam, Google, and other services have connection and graphics issues with virtual private networks.

In fact, a lot of users report that VPN is not working on Steam at all. But deactivating the VPN browser extension seems to help.

It’s only a temporary fix, though, because it means toggling your VPN every time you launch Steam so that it has enough time to update itself without errors.

2. Use a VPN with split tunneling

A long-term, hassle-free solution to this problem is to set up split tunneling mode on your VPN desktop application.

You will still be able to use your VPN for browsing activities, torrenting, and so on.

However, Steam will not be routed through the secure tunnel, so it will not encounter updating issues due to VPN anymore.

You won’t find a good free VPN with split tunneling support. But you can invest in a premium solution like Private Internet Access.

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It offers more than 20,000 servers located in over 70 countries around the world and uses the WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols.

Plus, its military-grade 256-bit AES encryption will always take care of hiding your online traffic, regardless of the game you’re playing or the browser you’re using.

Using these settings, all applications on your computer will connect to the VPN as soon as you connect to a VPN server: web browsers, torrenting clients, Netflix app, and so on.

Private Internet Access does an awesome job when it comes to streaming services. Our experiments indicated that it unblocks platforms like Netflix or HBO Max without any issue.

The PIA secure tunnel will not interfere with the, so you if Steam won’t ever fail to apply updates and reverting.

What else you should know about Private Internet Access:

  • Kill switch, port forwarding, and private DNS servers
  • A zero-logging privacy policy
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee (no free trial)

3. Add exceptions for Steam and games in your firewall

  1. Press on the Windows key, type Control Panel, then open the first result.
  2. Go to System and Security.
  3. Choose to Allow an app through Windows Firewall.
  4. Click Change settings (you need elevation rights).
  5. Find Steam entries on this list, then enable the Private and Public options for each of them.

The Windows Firewall might be blocking your gaming platform and games, which means that Steam will fail to apply updates and will revert all changes.

If you have a third-party firewall installed that overrides the Windows Firewall, carefully adapt the steps above.

4. Whitelist Steam and games in your antivirus

Your antivirus could be blocking the Steam app, along with all your games, so this is probably why Steam failed to apply updates and reverting.

By following the same logic as in the previous step, you have to inspect the settings panel of your anti-malware application.

Make sure to exclude Steam and Steam games from your anti-malware so that they won’t get flagged and blocked by the real-time engine. They must be whitelisted.

According to Steam, you should also check settings in your anti-spyware tools, torrenting and other P2P client or file-sharing software, FTP and web server apps, IP filtering programs, along with download accelerators and download managers.

5. Clear Steam Download Cache

  1. Hit the Windows key, type Steam, then open the app.
  2. From the top-left corner of the window, click on Steam.
  3. Navigate to Settings.
  4. Now, from the left window pane, click on Downloads, then choose to Clear Download Cache.

Deleting the Steam download cache might fix update errors.

What other Steam updating fails should I be aware of?

It is true that Steam might fail to apply updates and reverts, but there are several other related issues you should be aware of.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list with the most common ones and we strongly recommend saving the listed solutions somewhere safe.

  • Steam failed to update borrower – The full error reads Failed to update borrower (rate limit exceeded) and it can occur either on your front or your friend end while he is sharing the game with you.
  • The Steam update goes backwards – It seems that it might be possible that after the download reaches a certain point, it starts going backward, leaving users unable to complete the process.
  • Steam update stuck or not downloading – Steam updates might also hang or get stuck. Then, the installing update window will hang indefinitely when updates get stuck.

To recap, if Steam fails to apply updates and reverts all changes instead, make sure to disable your VPN browser exceptions.

Instead, opt for a premium VPN service that has split tunneling support, such as Private Internet Access.

But you should also exclude Steam and Steam games from the firewall and antivirus engine, as well as check other programs which could harm the gaming platform.

For more quick-fix solutions for Steam updates that get stuck, check out our easy guide.

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