You can use your local network to transfer games between computers thanks to a new Steam feature. If you have a game installed on your desktop PC and want to play it on Steam Deck, for instance, you can now transfer it between the two without re-downloading any files.
The feature was announced on Twitter by Valve via the official Steam Deck account. “Local Network Game Transfers are great for Steam Deck owners, multi-user Steam households, dorms, LAN parties, etc. No more worries about bandwidth or datacaps when all the files you need are already nearby,” says a followup tweet.
The process is more fully explained on this Steam support page. Steam “will first check if there are other PCs running Steam on your LAN (local area network) that could transfer the needed game content to you directly” when you attempt to install or update a game on Steam.
Instead of downloading the files from the internet, if such a PC is found, it will transfer as many of them as possible across your local network. Steam will continue to use Steam’s content servers if the connection breaks.
At this time, transfers can only be made between PCs or from a PC to a Steam Deck. Both the sender and the receiver must be enrolled in the Steam Beta. By default, transfers are also restricted to “self only,” which means that local transfers can only take place between computers that are signed into the same Steam account. You can change this setting to include users who are on your Steam Friends list or who are connected to your local network.
I think this is pretty cool, especially for people who have to deal with limited data transfer or slow internet. It certainly sounds better than the time to use Steam’s game backup feature to generate a multi-part archive, burn those parts to numerous CDs, and then reassemble them one at a time on a laptop without internet access.