There is a Steam Deck hack that can improve the speed of your microSD card

If you get a Steam Deck, slide in a microSD card, format it, and start installing a game, you might notice something: incredibly slow download speeds. Like “Is my internet broken?” speeds. Something seems to be happening for some Deck owners, myself included, that is preventing your removable microSD storage from running at full speed.

There’s a workaround for this that won’t take too long, but keep in mind that you’ll need to reformat your microSD card during this process so you’ll lose your game rigs and anything else you’ve stored on your card.

But first, a disclaimer that it’s possible that your microSD card is actually slowing things down. My colleague Alice Newcome-Beill tells me to buy one with a U3 write speed and an A2 application class (those little symbols will be written on the card), meaning it has faster random read and write speeds than bargain bin microSD cards. Unfortunately, some people receive fake microSD cards that either don’t have the advertised speed or capacity.

If your model fits that recommendation, but you’re still encountering slow download speeds, here’s a clever and well-documented solution to this problem that worked for me (and apparently many others). It can be found on the Steam forums, thanks to a user going through RoyalMetalKnights. It involves a lot of steps, but it doesn’t take particularly long to do.

(Note: Absolutely) no of the courage to figure this out belongs to me, but I’m going to post it here for easier viewing and to give this good advice another place to live. I’ve made minor changes to the wording for clarity, and I’ve added screenshots to make it easier for beginners to follow.)

Once your Steam Deck is powered on, follow these steps. (Again, keep in mind that you will be formatting your microSD card completely, so it’s probably a good idea to create a backup first. You can do that by copying and pasting the contents of your microSD card to a folder on a computer or on a cloud storage service.)

On the Steam Deck, press the “Steam” button, then navigate to “Power” and finally tap “Switch to Desktop”.

A screen with the list of programs accessible through the desktop mode of the Steam Deck.

Tapping on the Steam logo will bring up this Start menu-like window.

A screenshot of KDE Partition Manager in Steam Deck desktop mode

Note that the first drive listed in KDE Partition Manager is my microSD card, although it may not match what your screen will look like.

A screenshot in the KDE Partition Manager

In this screenshot, I’ve selected the information bar that contains the details of the drive, which you need to do before right-clicking on it (or pulling the left trigger) to open a drop-down menu.

A screenshot in KDE Partition Manager

This screenshot shows the “Delete Partition” note in the “Pending Operations” box. Proceed with caution here.

A screenshot of the KDE Partition Manager

This is the point of no return for reformatting your microSD card.

A screenshot in the Steam Deck

Once you’ve reinserted your microSD card, make sure to set it as the default for future installations by highlighting it and then pressing the X button.

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