Steam is an online platform that lets you download and play over 2,000 video games, from first-person shooters to RPGs, as well as a pretty long list of indie games. You can play on your PC, Mac, mobile device, or even your television, and it has a community of over 40 million gamers. Prices are different depending on the type of game and how new/popular it is, but they're generally about the same as what you'd pay for an Xbox or PlayStation version. They also have a decent list of free games and teasers if you're a more casual gamer.
Steam is generally a pretty well-liked service, but the most common complaint about it is the download times. This is because Steam throttles the bandwidth on occasion, but Christian Cawley found that by tweaking the settings on the client side, you can make your downloads faster so that they're "limited not by the Steam servers but by your ISP's connection speed."
By visiting the Stats page on Steam's website, you can see a graph of the site's bandwidth and the amount of traffic currently on each server. By choosing a server with lower traffic, you can speed up your downloads. To switch, open View >> Settings, then select the Downloads + Cloud tab.
Make sure the right the first drop-down menu has your Internet speed correct, then find the menu called Download region. Select a server relatively close to you that has low traffic and click OK. Once you restart Steam, you'll be connected to a different server and, hopefully, your downloads will be faster.
If you're a Windows user, there's another trick you can use to speed up your downloads by using Windows' QoS Packet Scheduler to remove bandwidth limits. Check out Christian's article to find out how to do it.
Do you use Steam? Have you had problems with your download speeds? Let us know in the comments if this trick works for you.