I'm a retail fanboi - I like the DVDs/CDs that come with the game. I can touch, caress and gaze upon the install media at whim. If my machine dies, meh, just reinstall off the media in an instant without waiting. The problem with that nugget is that when the media itself becomes damaged, or get boxed away somewhere and forgotten about then you're buggered.
The power of online, downloadable content that is readily available anytime to re-download and install again and again is so valuable - provided you're account isn't banned or suspended. It has of course has its downsides:
- you need lots of time to download
- and a hefty download quota (if you're not with a free-content ISP) - but if you have a crazy download cap then who cares about a few gig.)
So if you download a game that's say 6GB, then that's gonna take time - and I'm sure at this point you'd be wishing you had the install media to quickly reinstall it and go onto repatch it because when the shakes start you need an instant fix.
What's the answer?
Backup your Steam games using the built-in Backup utility for rapid redeploy. Valve have kindly whipped up some instructions on how to safely backup (and restore) your Steam Games - remember when you reinstall a game ensure you have your Steam account and password.
Mosey on over to the Steam Support page from the Backup & Restore Procedure link below and follow the instructions on how to backup and restore.
NB: There's a gotcha - the steam backup utility might not include the SteamBackup.exe file that you need to fire up your restore so download that too to add to your backup set.