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Warlord Dec 19, 2013 @ 8:51am
New "Disk Busy" preventing game downloads
The beta's new "Disk Busy" indicator on the game downloads page seems to be preventing games from downloading. See, I suspect that my computer's HDD is on the out, as things take way too long to boot up and shut down. Game load times are slower than they should, and now I sometimes cannot download files. Mostly it seems to be the medium-large sized patches that Payday 2 has been putting out, but I can't seem to download more than a few megs before it freezes up.

The downloads page shows it is trying to download, but no data appears to be coming down the pipe. The indicator light is red, showing a "busy disk". When I pause the download, it instantly changes to a green light for "disk idle". I know that data must be being downloaded, as my computer's "Resource Monitor" shows the disk is working, and the culprit is "...Steam\steamapps\downloading\[NUMBER]\assets\[RANDOM HEX NUMBER].bundle".

There are at least a dozen of these, ranging from 4-7 MB/sec disk write speed and the rest standing at 500 KB/sec write or less. As I'm writing this, I see the progress bar for the 100 MB patch jump ~10% every other minute. There is no way it should be moving this slowly at all.

EDIT: Ok, from what we have discussed in this topic, it seems certain games cause this issue when updating, while others don't appear to. Supposedly it is NOT a steam issue, but just the way they update. The reason being that they download a patch file, then spend a while applying the patch to the file itself. So while the download size may be XX megabytes of data which ought to download quickly, it has to pause every little while to apply the patch. Which is why the hard drive is active yet no "downloading" progress.

The following games are reported as to show this behavior:
Payday 2 (Reported by myself)
Rome 2 (reported by Cloth Ears)
Sonic All Stars Racing (reported by V3n0urS)
Loadout (reported by Torlakhas)
DOTA 2 (reported by TheCyberTronn)
DayZ Standalone (reported by -MSolH- Zedocax)
The Secret World (reported by Luke)
Path of Exile (repoted by Brisin)
CS:GO (reported by Ashurbanipal)
Thief (reported by Nuka Cola)
Last edited by Warlord; Feb 28, 2014 @ 8:37am
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Showing 1-15 of 224 comments
Bad-Motha Dec 19, 2013 @ 8:55am 
Sounds like it is time to run diagnostics on your drives and/or ram to see if anything is defective or coming up with errors. Since u say this is system-wise (OS and Games loading slower now all of a sudden) then I very much doubt it is only a Steam Client issue of sorts.

I would run Disk Error Checking[windows.microsoft.com] for starters. See what that comes up with.
aiusepsi Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:16am 
You're misinterpreting the indicator. It's not stopping your download: it's telling you *why* the download has stopped. It's because the disk is busy!

OK, so why is the disk busy? If you looked at Resource Monitor more closely, you'd see that Steam isn't just writing from disk, it's reading from disk too (and also not using any network bandwidth). More specifically, it's reading from (something like) ..Steam\steamapps\common\payday 2\assets\[RANDOM HEX NUMBER].bundle".

It's making a copy of some of the some of the data in some of the files. It's re-using data from files you already have to minimise the patch size. In the case of Payday 2, it ends up needing to re-use much more old data than it needs to download new data, so the rate-limiting step is how fast your disk can work. Which is why a "disk busy" light comes on.

I was hoping that the purpose of this indicator would be slightly more obvious, but I think Valve probably needs to go back to the drawing board on this. Maybe a second progress bar and display of the amount of data that it's reusing?
Last edited by aiusepsi; Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:17am
Warlord Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:25am 
I seem to recall that something in the patch that added it indicated when the disk would be too "busy" for downloading a game patch. It appeared to indicate that if the disk is already busy doing something else (like a defragment or w/e) that it would pause the download so as to not further put any load on the disk.

I do notice this problem always seems to occour on Payday patches, and I know that whenever they patch it doesn't end with that many "new" assets on the disk, but rather than it has to download that much data, but is likely simply replacing data already on the disk and the net result is much less than the download.

However, since that game is the only one that does this kind of work, the steam downloads page only shows a hung download, and to the user it indicates nothing is happening. Basically, they need to also show when a download is "working" on the hard drive and not ready yet for more files to be downloaded. When steam is processing local files, there should be an indicator.
aiusepsi Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:39am 
Originally posted by Warlord:
It appeared to indicate that if the disk is already busy doing something else (like a defragment or w/e) that it would pause the download so as to not further put any load on the disk.
That's not so. It's actually just displaying to the user the reason for the behaviour it's always had. It's not Steam sensing what other programs are doing and responding to it; it's feedback from Steam's own patching system, saying that the disk I/O isn't going fast enough to avoid having to stall the download part of the patch.

I do notice this problem always seems to occour on Payday patches
It's because they tend to make relatively small changes to already existing large files. For most games' patches, because the disk is so fast compared to download, the download is the rate-limiting step, i.e. the disk work gets held up waiting for downloading to finish. Because the amount of disk-work that needs doing for Payday 2 patches is so large compared to the download work, it ends up the other way around, the disk-work becomes the rate-limiting step and the download gets held up by the disk work.

However, since that game is the only one that does this kind of work, the steam downloads page only shows a hung download, and to the user it indicates nothing is happening. Basically, they need to also show when a download is "working" on the hard drive and not ready yet for more files to be downloaded. When steam is processing local files, there should be an indicator.
All games do that kind of work, it's just much more obvious with Payday 2 for the reasons I mention above. And there is an indicator for when Steam is processing local files: that is literally what the disk busy indicator is for.

It doesn't seem to be doing a very good job of communicating that, though.
Warlord Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:45am 
No, not at all. It doesn't indicate the disk is busy BECAUSE of steam.
aiusepsi Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:54am 
Originally posted by Warlord:
No, not at all. It doesn't indicate the disk is busy BECAUSE of steam.
I feel like I'm repeating myself a bit here, but yeh: it's not doing a good job at what it's for. Valve should probably redesign it. Possibly go back to the drawing board.
Bad-Motha Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:54am 
Well I often have downloads and updates, and no matter what my drive indicator in Steam > Library > Downloads ALWAYS says IDLE. No matter what it is doing???

Maybe because all my games are on other drives and libraries that do not reside on my OS drive. So maybe having it is possible the indicator within Steam is just broken and could just slowing download progress and such simply because it is busy, but by the OS and Apps, and not Steam perhaps???

Anyone else seem to have the same issue as I stated??
Last edited by Bad-Motha; Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:56am
Warlord Dec 19, 2013 @ 9:59am 
Originally posted by aiusepsi:
Originally posted by Warlord:
No, not at all. It doesn't indicate the disk is busy BECAUSE of steam.
I feel like I'm repeating myself a bit here, but yeh: it's not doing a good job at what it's for. Valve should probably redesign it. Possibly go back to the drawing board.

Was agreeing with you on that, not adding to it :D

Originally posted by Bad-Motha:
Well I often have downloads and updates, and no matter what my drive indicator in Steam > Library > Downloads ALWAYS says IDLE. No matter what it is doing???

Maybe because all my games are on other drives and libraries that do not reside on my OS drive. So maybe having it is possible the indicator within Steam is just broken and could just slowing download progress and such simply because it is busy, but by the OS and Apps, and not Steam perhaps???

Anyone else seem to have the same issue as I stated??

Sounds... strange. Are you saying your downloads are slow too? Or just adding that since your games reside on the non-OS (and possibly non steam-installed?) hard drive, the indicator doesn't work at all?
[(M)] Capitan Jack Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:07am 
I am totally agree.
Cornetto*Enigma Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:08am 
okay =)
Soldier_Revolution Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:09am 
Дело дошло до этого
Bad-Motha Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:14am 
No, but because none of my games reside on OS drive, it will ALWAYS say DISK IDLE; for me anyways. However I did a test and it still does this no matter what.

Ok I have Steam Client and most games on G drive OK.
I go to properties for a game installed on G drive (again where Steam Client is installed)

After properties comes up, I click back on Library > Downloads so I can see this screen.

Then Verify Game Cache. Now while VGC is going on, this game shows up in Downloads and quickly starts showing how long remaining until finished (this time is for VGC to complete). There is very slight network bandwidth here (only a very small, few KB per sec) but the entire time, says DISK IS IDLE.

Ha what a joke of a feature.

I also have Win7 with all the desktop gadgets on my desktop from AddGadget.com and I can clearly see that during the VGC process, I get only a very very slight % from my C drive (which is what I would expect anyways) but G drive is showing 20-50 mbps read as Steam is performing VGC for a game. So however the disk activity is coded in Steam Client, it is obviously coded all wrong. After doing a few VGC tests like I explained above, I even went and downloaded a different game so it would install it fresh, still same issue.

Steam; seriously just dump the feature. Why is it even needed. People should know that if a game is downloading or you are doing VGC, to just leave the system alone, what is a drive indicator going to do for anyone, really!? Plus when u are doing VGC, Steam doesn't allow you any interaction with anything related to Steam Client while VGC is going on.
Last edited by Bad-Motha; Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:19am
Warlord Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:21am 
It's probably just a code flaw, back from when they expected steam and all the games to reside on the C: drive, so it is probably hard-coded to detect how much of a load it's putting on C: only.

Likely fixable if they notice and change the code to reflect which drive the work is being done on.
aiusepsi Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:31am 
Originally posted by Bad-Motha:
Steam; seriously just dump the feature. Why is it even needed. People should know that if a game is downloading or you are doing VGC, to just leave the system alone, what is a drive indicator going to do for anyone, really!?
You're misunderstanding the feature. What it is actually doing (and is supposed to do) is communicate something very specific: that the internal chunk download queue is starved, not disk activity per se. They've chosen to express that queue starvation as "disk idle" / "disk busy" because that's sort-of the reason that the download queue is starved, and it's more comprehensible than a "download queue starved" light.

Your test cases aren't starving the download queue, which is why the light never comes on.

The point of it is to offer explanation as to why sometimes your download rate will fall to zero when you're updating a game, which can cause people to believe that the patch has stalled when it actually hasn't.

As you've identified, there's a mismatch between the way the feature is identified in the UI and what it actually does, because it's not actually directly measuring disk activity. It's a misleading design. I think a better solution would be to indicate the file copy progress as well as download progress; it'd be much more obvious that the patch process isn't stalled.
Last edited by aiusepsi; Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:33am
Bad-Motha Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:34am 
@ aiusepsi

Ok well I'm glad u explained it then, but I figured I would post an example of what it is not doing and or monitoring. Yes I realize it is not to monitor disk usage like you would in Resource Monitor, as what would be the point of Steam doing that when it is basically already a feature in Windows.

But yes I did further testing with multiple downloads in a que, only then did I ever see it working.

Maybe Steam should explain the feature more, or in depth I suppose. I am sure they do somewhere on Community Discussion and all, but again I think Steam needs something else on their website for people new to steam, like page that gives a visual overview of every feature in Steam Client and explains it. People these days need visual guides in order to function I guess.
Last edited by Bad-Motha; Dec 19, 2013 @ 10:38am
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Date Posted: Dec 19, 2013 @ 8:51am
Posts: 224