Why Do PC Games Take So Long to Install

PC games take a long time to install when they are larger in size due to high graphical fidelity and wider breadth of mechanical complexity. Your computer’s hardware can also make installation of games slower if there are bottlenecks or some of the components are outdated.

In other words, a PC game can take more or less time to install depending on its size as well as the raw capabilities of your gaming rig.

Why Do PC Games Take So Long to Install?

Before diving into why PC games take so long to install, it’s important to consider two things:

  • The source from which the game is being installed
  • The destination to which the game is being installed

Which PC Game Installation Sources are Faster?

In terms of sources, you have the following options:

  • Digital download, meaning your game will install from a hard drive directly
  • External drive
  • Optical drive

Each of these cases will have an impact on the speed at which your game will unpack from its compressed state and write itself onto your PC’s hard drive. Arguably, the fastest source will be an internal storage drive. Your game will install faster this way because the drive will have a direct connection with your motherboard and other components. Furthermore, internal drives typically have faster read and write speeds.

External hard drives come at a close second as they’re much faster than optical drives. The key difference lies in what is called “seek times”, which are random in optical media. Hard drives have more consistent seek times and spin at faster rates as well.

Which PC Game Installation Destinations are Faster?

Ideally, you’ll want to install your PC games on an internal hard drive, which can come in one of two flavors: HDD and SSD.

HDDs are mechanical drives with magnetic spinning discs that have data written to them and from them as they rotate. SSDs are solid-state drives, meaning they’re effectively shaped like computer chips. They have no mechanic components and have data written on them that use algorithmic structure to make it easy for your computer to sift through.

Without a doubt, SSDs are the fastest installation destination for PC games. The difference, however, is quite marginal and has a smaller impact on how long it takes for your titles to finish installing.

What Other Factors Affect Installation Speed of PC Games?

In their purest form, video games are a massive collection of data that your computer processes into images, sounds, and animations. The more of these elements a game has, the larger it is. By extension, this also means that the more data a PC needs to unpack for installation, the longer it will take to finish such a process.

An example would be a massive open-world game with high graphical fidelity, like Cyberpunk 2077. Steam has the game listed as requiring 70GB of storage space to install it. That’s a lot of data that your machine needs to process. How fast that happens will depend on the installation source, destination, and your hardware’s power.

A brand-new gaming PC with state-of-the-art components, including CPU, will take a lot less time to install a digital copy of Cyberpunk 2077 onto an SSD than a 5-year-old machine with previous generation hardware.

How Long Does it Take to Install Steam Games?

When you install a PC game from Steam, you’re actually starting from the download stage. This means that when you select install or play on a game in your library, this will call home to the Steam servers to start downloading it first. This process will take time, depending on your internet connection and the size of the game.

Once the game has finished downloading, installation shouldn’t take longer than 10-20 minutes. However, if it takes longer than that, it might mean the game had additional patches to download. Steam will start patching as soon as a game is fully installed on your machine so that tends to add a bit more time.

What Should I Do If My PC Game Takes a Long Time to Install?

If your PC games are taking an unreasonably long time to finish installing, it could mean a couple of things:

Hard Drive Issues

Your hard drive is a key component of the installation of your games. Any out-of-the-ordinary installation times could mean it has a fault or it’s in a deteriorated state. You can perform some hard drive health checks to see if this is indeed the case.

If it turns out that your drive is dying or has a fault, then you need to back up your data and get a replacement as soon as possible. This should consequently result in faster PC game installations.

Operating System Issues

An OS will handle a lot of the logistical aspects of installing a PC game onto a hard drive. Slowdown during such a process can also indicate it has a fault or some corrupted services running in the background. What you need to do immediately is ensure your OS is fully up-to-date.

You can also perform a repair on most operating systems to help fix and restructure their files. If that doesn’t work, then you may need to wipe your hard drive and reinstall your OS. This should ultimately result in faster PC game installations.

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