FIX: Steam failed to apply updates, reverting (5 solutions)

Elena Constantinescu
by 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 new things to improve her skill... Read more
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  • Steam automatically checks and applies updates at every startup, by default. But it sometimes fails to do so, resulting in the Failed to apply update, reverting error message.
  • Get rid of this Steam error by disabling any VPN browser extensions. A long-term solution is to use a premium VPN with split tunneling mode. Discover more fix suggestions.
  • Join our Steam section for more troubleshooting guides about this gaming platform.
  • Head over to our VPN Hub to find out how a VPN can enhance your Internet experience.
fix Steam failed to apply update reverting
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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 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.

posted by Reaume on Steam Community

We tried to replicate this problem and this is how our Steam Store page ended up looking.

Steam Store does not render graphics correctly

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

Steam Store loads correctly

What do I do if Steam fails to apply updates and is reverting changes?

Disable any VPN browser extensions

disable Chrome VPN

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 Steam doesn’t work with their VPN 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.

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.

Here’s exactly how you can set up Steam in split tunneling using PIA:

set up split tunneling for Steam in PIA
  1. Sign up for a PIA subscription plan
  2. Download and install PIA
  3. Log in with your PIA credentials
  4. Go to Settings > Network
  5. Enable Split Tunnel
  6. Click Add Application
  7. Locate and select Steam
  8. Set Steam to Bypass VPN
  9. Set All Other Apps to Use VPN
  10. Exit the settings panel and connect to a VPN server
  11. Restart Steam

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.

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But the secure tunnel will not interfere with Steam, so it shouldn’t have problems updating itself anymore.

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Add exceptions for Steam and games in your firewall

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.

Here’s how you can fix this:

allow Steam in Windows Firewall
  1. Press the Win key, type firewall, and select Firewall & network protection
  2. Click Allow an app through firewall
  3. Click Change settings (you need elevation rights)
  4. Find Steam entries on this list
  5. Enable the Private and Public options for each Steam entry
  6. Do this for all your Steam games, too

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

Whitelist Steam and games in your antivirus

Your antivirus could be blocking the Steam app, along with all your games.

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.

Clear the Steam download cache

clear the download cache in Steam
  1. Launch Steam
  2. Go to Settings > Downloads
  3. Click Clear Download Cache

Deleting the Steam download cache might fix update errors.

Conclusion

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 (buy here).

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

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

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