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Old 07-26-2012, 04:05 AM   #1
X.nano
 
 
 
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Why Offline Mode is broken (Includes workarounds)

Alright, so I've seen a lot of misconceptions about how Steam's offline mode is supposed to work, and whether it actually does work. So I've put together this post to try and explain the main problems and how you can avoid them.

Myth: You must be online to use offline mode
Due to the Steam support article only giving instructions to use offline mode when you are already online, many people think that this is the only way to use it. Luckily, this is false, as an offline mode like this would be rather useless. If you start Steam without an internet connection you will be given the option to start in offline mode.

Fact: If you don't exit Steam manually, offline mode may not work.
Unfortunately, this may not always work due to a bug. When Steam starts in online mode, it modifies a cache file called winui.gcf. When Steam shuts down, it changes it back. However, if Steam is running whenand means the process is not given the chance to change the file backfile is not changed back. On startup, Steam detects that this cache was not shut down properly, and attempts to fix it. However, this process requires an internet connection, so if you are starting in offline mode, Steam will fail to open and will display this error message.

Myth: Offline mode works fine for me, so there isn't a problem!
Not everyone experiences this problem. I have found that on some computers, the cache file is not detected as damaged after a forced shutdown and offline mode will work normally. If you're one of these people, then you're lucky, but that doesn't mean it works fine for everyone else. Some people are also lulled into a false sense of security by testing offline mode after disconnecting from the internet. As they manually exit Steam before trying the offline mode, the cache file is shut down correctly and offline mode will work. Then when they actually need to use it, they find that it does not work.

How to ensure you can get into offline mode 100% of the time
1. Back up winui.gcf
Manually close Steam by right-clicking on the notification area icon and slecting Exit. Go into the Steam/steamapps folder and look for a file called winui.gcf. Right-click on it and select Copy, then right-click on an empty area of the folder and select Paste. This will create a file called winui - Copy.gcf. If you ever need to use offline mode and you encounter the problem, just delete the old winui.gcf file and rename the copy to winui.gcf before trying to start Steam again.
2. Exit Steam manually
As long as you remember to manually exit Steam before shutting down your PC you will always be able to use offline mode. Of course, there is always a possibility you may forget, so it is a good idea to make a backup as well as detailed above.
3. Disconnect from all networks
If you are connected to a local network, but not the internet, you may find that Steam hangs at the Updating Steam... dialog. To get around this problem, just disconnect from the network.

If these instrucions helped you, or you have anything else to add, please post below!

More information
Manually fixing winui.gcf (Advanced users)
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Old 07-26-2012, 04:18 AM   #2
pizzahut
 
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by X.nano View Post
If you are connected to a local network, but not the internet, you may find that Steam hangs at the Updating Steam... dialog. To get around this problem, just disconnect from the network.
Starting Steam while being connected to a local network can permanently break off-line mode until internet access is available. Thus it's best to disconnect before attempting to start Steam in off-line mode. But I guess the "winui.gcf" fix would help if things go wrong.

Last edited by pizzahut: 07-26-2012 at 04:44 AM.
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Old 07-26-2012, 04:40 AM   #3
Cantisque
 
 
 
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Nice guide! I will have to copy the file somewhere just in case. Thanks!
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Old 07-26-2012, 04:54 AM   #4
FreshFTGrave
 
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I applaud you good sir! I heard about the file backup but was told it was the client.blob or whatever, now I know better
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Old 07-26-2012, 04:58 AM   #5
Unknown_Error
 
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This also works:
Quote:
Originally Posted by KouDy View Post
If you have your password saved then you can do this :
1) create file "steam.cfg" in the same directory where steam.exe is
2) edit steam.cfg (with notepad for example) and add these lines
Code:
BootStrapperInhibitAll=enable
ForceOfflineMode=enable
3) Steam should ask you when starting it if you want to proceed with offline mode

This works for me (i am unable to login steam online for few days now).
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:35 AM   #6
Soulwave
 
 
 
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Good guide, it's time to Steam fix this issue, offline mode is important in lan partys to play CS and other lan games and very usefull to people unable to login for any reason.
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:14 AM   #7
bowmoq
 
 
 
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PLEASE, someone make this thread a sticky!!
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:36 AM   #8
Rain_1
 
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The same thing happens with the shortcuts.vdf file, which means that if Steam doesn't close gracefully, shortcuts.vdf gets corrupt and you lose your Non-Steam shortcuts.

Valve really should fix this, as at least two features of Steam are affected by this issue.
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Old 08-11-2012, 11:46 AM   #9
doomypikachu
 
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This guide helped just then when my internet stopped working.
Kudos.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:45 AM   #10
Kub666
 
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This should be a sticky. Also - this should be fixed by Valve, and fast.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:49 PM   #11
DaveKap
 
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If this is true, why did it take years to figure out?
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:57 PM   #12
OrinX
 
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Most people probably shut down steam properly.
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Old 08-16-2012, 04:36 PM   #13
Sparkletwinkle
 
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Both solutions won't work for me. I haven't had internet on my desktop for years so can't connect Steam.
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