[Tested] How to Fix Steam Client Bootstrapper Crash Beginner’s Guide 2022

(Last Updated On: May 3, 2023)

Steam is a fantastic platform that makes managing large game libraries a breeze. While its hegemony is being challenged by the likes of Epic, it remains the king of the hill for the time being. It is not without flaws, as anyone who has used it for any length of time will tell you. This tutorial will go over one of the most common issues, Steam crashing bootstrapper.

A bootstrapper is a software process that performs a series of self-diagnostics and prepares the program for loading. In the case of Steam, the bootstrapper checks the computer resources to ensure they are adequate, as well as the Steam files required to load.

Once those preliminary checks are completed, the bootstrapper will check the Steam servers for updates, download and install any updates found. Once everything is ready, it will pass the process on to the loader.

When Steam keeps crashing the bootstrapper, the cause is usually software corruption or file damage. The bootstrapper crashes because it cannot find a resource required for one of its checks, or the resource required is not what it expected to see, and it is unsure what to do next. It crashes for a variety of reasons, and these are just two of the most common.

How to Fix Steam Client Bootstrapper Crash

Bootstrapper keeps crashing on Steam.

So those are the most common causes of Steam crashing bootstrapper; what can we do about it? There are a few things you can try to troubleshoot, which I’ll list in order of speed and ease of use.

Restart your computer.

Almost anything can be fixed with a reboot. If the Steam bootstrapper cannot find a file or finds a corrupted or partially overwritten file in memory, a reboot will fix it. If it is unable to connect to the Steam server to check for updates or read the files it requires, a reboot will reload those files in memory.

Try one or all of these fixes if Steam keeps crashing bootstrapper after a reboot.

Switch off your VPN.

If you use a VPN, which you should, the bootstrapper may be unable to connect to the Steam servers to check for updates. Turning off your VPN for a brief period of time to allow it to connect may allow Steam to load normally. After that, you can reconnect to Steam by turning on your VPN again.

Execute as Administrator

If Steam has previously run successfully on your computer, you should not need to do this, but if you have recently reinstalled Windows or are trying Steam on a new computer or hard drive, make sure you’re running it as administrator.

  1. Select Properties from the context menu when you right-click the Steam shortcut.
  2. Go to the Compatibility tab and check the Run This Program as an Administrator box.
  3. Click OK to restart Steam.

Make Steam an exception.

This is especially important if you have recently reinstalled Windows or installed Steam on a new drive or computer. You must add Steam as an exception in Windows Defender or your antivirus software, as well as to your firewall. If the bootstrapper is blocked by security software, you will not always be warned and the program will simply crash.

You should be able to add programs as exceptions in your security software. Make the Steam.exe file an exception in your malware scanner, antivirus software, and firewall.

Deactivate your antivirus software.

If adding Steam as an exception does not work, try temporarily disabling your antivirus. You should be able to disable or send it into quiet mode for a set amount of time. Set it up so you can test Steam, play a game to verify, and then proceed. Even if you make Steam an exception, your antivirus software may object to something it is doing.

Deactivate your security software, launch Steam, wait for it to load, and then proceed. If Steam works, you know it’s your antivirus that’s causing the issue, which you can discuss with the developer.

Delete the file localconfig.vdf.

When the localconfig.vdf file becomes too large, it has been known to cause instability. It can be deleted to prevent Steam from crashing bootstrapper. Deleting it will not harm Steam, but it may require you to reset some preferences. The file is located at SteamuserdataNAMEFILEconfig. You may see your username or a random number where you see NAMEFILE. In any case, open the folder, locate localconfig.vdf, and delete it.

Install Steam again.

If nothing else works, reinstalling Steam is your last resort. You will not lose your games or be required to reinstall them. As long as you set it to not delete game files, you can use the built-in tools to associate your new version of Steam with your existing games library.

Remove Steam, choose to keep game files, then download and install a fresh copy of Steam. If it doesn’t pick it up automatically, log in and add it to your games library.

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