Yea all you need to do is save the critical files and Steam will download the validation bit again for you which is really fast.
Not to ask a stupid question but is your credit card maxed out by any chance? The payment is done in real time so it could be that?
I’m actually in favour of the whole auto update feature. I used to be sick of the whole, “Oh theres a nice server I’ll join that” only to be told that theyre running a different version than me. Fair enough it may be slow on dialup but its a small price to pay me thinks.
I’ve used Steam lots and I’ve never had any problems with it. The only thing that annoys me is the fees they charge regarding lost/forgotten CD-Keys, even if you provide proof of purchase you still have to play something like $20 for them to give you a new one..