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Steam Client Bootstrapper Keeps Crashing – What To Do

Posted by Jamie on July 17, 2019

Steam is an awesome platform that makes managing large game libraries so much easier. While its dominance is now being challenged by the likes of Epic, it is still the king of the hill, for now. It isn’t without its issues though as anyone who has used it for any length of time will be able to tell you. This tutorial is going to cover one of the most common errors, Steam crashing bootstrapper.

A bootstrapper is a software process that runs a sequence of self-diagnostics and prepares the way for the program to load. In the case of Steam, the bootstrapper checks the computer resources to make sure they are sufficient, checks the Steam files necessary to load.

Once those initial checks are complete, the bootstrapper will check the Steam servers for updates, download any updates and install them. It will then pass the process on to the loader once it verifies everything is ready.

When Steam keeps crashing bootstrapper, it is usually down to software corruption or file damage. The bootstrapper cannot find a resource it needs for one of its checks or the resource it needs isn’t what it expects to see and doesn’t know what to do next so it crashes. There are a number of reasons why it crashes and these are just two of the most common.

Steam keeps crashing bootstrapper

So that’s the more common reasons for Steam keeps crashing bootstrapper, now what can we do about it? There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot and I’ll order them in terms of speed and ease of use.

Reboot your computer

A reboot can fix almost anything. If the Steam bootstrapper cannot find a file or finds a file in memory that is corrupt or partially overwritten, a reboot will fix it. If it couldn’t reach the Steam server to check for updates or read the files it needs, a reboot can reload those files in memory.

If Steam keeps crashing bootstrapper after a reboot, try one or all of these fixes.

Turn off your VPN

If you use a VPN, and you should, it may prevent the bootstrapper from reaching the Steam servers to check for updates. Turning off your VPN for a moment to allow it to connect may allow Steam to load as normal. You can turn your VPN on again afterwards and Steam will remain connected.

Run as Administrator

If Steam has successfully run before on your computer, it is unlikely that you would need to do this but if you have just reinstalled Windows or are trying Steam on a new computer or hard drive, check to make sure you’re running it as admin.

  1. Right click the Steam shortcut and select Properties.
  2. Select the Compatibility tab and check the box next to Run This Program as an Administrator.
  3. Select OK and retest Steam.

Add Steam as an exception

This is also more relevant if you have just reinstalled Windows, or installed Steam on a new drive or computer. You need to add Steam as an exception in Windows Defender or your Antivirus and to your firewall. If the bootstrapper is being blocked by security software you won’t always be warned and it will just crash.

Your security software should have a feature that allows you to add programs as exceptions. Select the Steam.exe file as the exception to your malware scanner, antivirus program and firewall.

Deactivate your antivirus

If adding Steam as an exception doesn’t work, try disabling your antivirus while you test. You will usually have the option to disable or send it to quiet mode for a fixed period of time. Set it so you can test Steam, play a game to verify and go from there. Even if you add Steam as an exception, your antivirus may not like something it is doing.

Deactivate your security program, open Steam, let it load and go from there. If Steam works, you know it’s your antivirus that is causing the problem and you can troubleshoot that with the developer.

Delete localconfig.vdf

The localconfig.vdf file has been known to cause instabilities when it grows too large. Deleting it can stop Steam crashing bootstrapper. Deleting it won’t harm Steam but may mean you have to set some preferences again. You’ll find the file at \Steam\userdata\NAMEFILE\config. Where you see NAMEFILE, you may see your username or a random number. Either way, open the folder, find localconfig.vdf and delete it.

Reinstall Steam

If nothing else has worked, reinstalling Steam is your final option. You won’t lose your games or have to reinstall them again. You can use the built-in tools to associate your new version of Steam with your existing games library as long as you set it to not delete game files.

Remove Steam, select to keep game files, download a new copy of Steam and install it. Log in and link it to your games library if it doesn’t pick it up automatically.

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