Because of (somewhat) high demand I decided to make this guide to show you how to idle with multiple accounts at the same time and trade between them. If you are new to idling read this first!
-A decent computer: If you can't run a single instance of TF2 with low settings properly then this isn't for you. Just for reference I can idle with 7 accounts at the same time while playing other games like Resident Evil 5 or WoW with high settings on my 4GB RAM, GTX260 and Core2Quad Q9300 PC (before upgrade).
-2 or more (premium) TF2 accounts.
-The most important part: A trial or full version of Sandboxie. Warning: The trial only allows 1 sandbox. 1 sandbox+main=max 2 accounts at the same time.
1.Download and install Sandboxie.
2.Delete the default sandbox and create a new one. Name it as you wish.
3.Right-click the sandbox and go to settings.
-Restrictions->Drop rights->Drop rights from Administrators and Power User groups must be unchecked.
-Resource Access->File Access->Full Access and add the HDD Steam is installed on or add specific Steam folder. <--VERY important step.
4.Right-click on your sandbox and Run Sandboxed->Run Windows Explorer and navigate to Steam and log on to your alt.
5.Apply your idling settings and run TF2. Then run Steam normally and idle with you main. If you get an error you have to wait until the first instance of TF2 finished loading.
Congratulations. You are now idling with 2 accounts simultaneously. If you want to trade between accounts
just remove the idle settings and run TF2 normally add your idle account as friend and use the Steam trading feature. It lets you trade more than 8 items at once.
This is basically how multi-account idling works but there are a few problems. It's tedious to start TF2 by hand every time especially if you have more than 2 accounts and you have to wait until the first instance of TF2 finished loading until you can start a second one. If you already started multi-accounting then you might just go all the way and set up a farm!
How can we turn into ?
[h2]Advanced Idling requirements:[/h2]
-A good computer with at least 4GB RAM
-Lots of HDD space (peferably on another physical HDD than you OS).
-A full version of Sandboxie because the trial version only allows 1 sandbox.
[h2]Building the Farm[/h2]
1.Make a copy of Steam+TF2 files for each account and name the folders after your account or user name to avoid the loading issue.
Better method by raBBish, slightly modified by me. The old method involved copies of TF2 files which consumed a lot of HDD space. The new method uses links to one shared steamapps folder for all accounts and requires Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
1.Make a copy of Steam without the steamapps folder for each account.
a.Decide your main steamapps folder. Generally it should be the one with most games.
b.If you want, you can move the steamapps folder somewhere else and rename it (mine is D:\Games\Steam for example).
c.Remove all the other steamapps folders.
d.Open cmd.exe as an administrator.
e.Navigate into each Steam folder without steamapps and run the following:
mklink /D steamapps <main steamapps path>
Or if you didn't move steamapps:
cd C:\"Program Files (x86)"\Steam
mklink /D steamapps "D:\Games\Steam"
f.A shortcut should appear, named steamapps. Double-clicking it should show you the contents of the main steamapps folder.
mklink /D steamapps "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps"
You should now have one main steamapps folder and one shortcut to it for each alt. Now you can run all the idle accounts while only maintaining a single steamapps folder.
2.Create a sandbox for each account, name them after the account it belongs to and apply the settings mentioned above to every sandbox.
3.Using batch files for easy startup: We need 2 batch files per account. Idle and Login.
-Create a .txt file with
and make it a .bat file. This will will be needed later for launching TF2 for a specific account directly in idle mode.
start /low H:\"STEAMFOLDER"\Steam.exe -login ACCOUNT YOURPASSWORD -applaunch 440 -textmode -novid -nosound -noipx -nojoy -nopreload -sw -width 640 -height 480 +map itemtest
4.Create a .txt file with
and make it a .bat file again. This will be needed for trading and everything besides idling.
start /low H:\"YOURSTEAMFOLDER"\Steam.exe -login ACCOUNT PASSWORD
5.Create a batch file with:
This will run the idle batch files we made before in their respective sandboxes. It should like this whe it's done:
start C:\"Program Files"\Sandboxie\Start.exe /box:BOXNAME "H:\batch\ACCOUNTIDLE.bat"
6.Make another batch with the Login Batches.
Of course you have to replace the placeholders with you own names and directories.
C:\"Program Files"\Sandboxie\Start.exe /box:BOXNAME "H:\batch\ACCOUNTLOGIN.bat"
If you run Idle.bat from step 5 it will launch TF2 instances in idle mode for every account you made batches for. It takes 14 minutes for me until all 8 accounts are fully loaded and idling. You may get freezes or slowdowns if your computer is too weak. The Login.bat from step 6 logs on your accounts and lets you start TF2 in normal mode for trading or whatever you want.
You are now set for advanced TF2 idling. Tweak around the batches and settings to get used to it and make your own modifications and/or improvements. Additional information for idling settings can be found here. I recommend using an idle config even with textmode because it lowers memory use even further. Here is what I use. Put it in each Steam folder Steam\steamapps\ACCOUNT\team fortress 2\tf\cfg and add +exec idle.cfg to every copy of step 3. Don't use it with your main account because it will mess with your video settings.
Q: One of my accounts lost connection while idling (NO STEAM LOGON). Do I have to restart the whole thing?
A: No. Right-click on the sandbox with the disconnected account and terminate programs. Open the Idle.bat and copy the line with the disconnected account. Paste the line into a new .bat file and run it.
Q: How can I idle or login to specific accounts?
A: Look above.
Q: What can I do about instance/blob error?
A: Make a copy of your Steam+TF2 files and run the copy in the sandbox.
Q: Is this bannable?
Q: How can I tell if it's working?
A: By checking if it says X connected.
Q: I don't get any items. What's wrong?
A: Learn some patience. In most cases you're just unlucky or Valve item servers are down (most likely after updates). But just to be sure check your internet and Steam connection. Maybe you are drop capped.
Q: Does Steam block my IP if I run it multiple times?
A: Hell no. Why should it? I run 8 accounts from the same IP without problems. And what if your brother/sister/dog next door wants to play Steam games at the same time? Blocking IPs is a stupid thing to do for Steam.
Q: How can I prevent random people from joining my server?
A: Use a password by adding +sv_password xxx to the batches from step 3.
Q: Why does Steam validate/verify my files all the time?
A: If you use the mklink method only update TF2 with one account or you enter an endless update cycle. If you get this all the time even when running Steam normally consider redownloading.
Q: I get "Could not connect to Steam network" while login / "File is too large to copy into sandbox". What's wrong?
A: Check your resource access rights from step 3.
Q: TF2 updated and now HL2.exe crashes all the time. Any help?
A: Delete following bin folders: Steam/steamapps/ACCOUNT/team fortress 2/bin and Steam/steamapps/ACCOUNT/team fortress 2/tf/bin .
Q: "Failed to update item schema". What does this mean?
A: Nothing. Ignore it . It doesn't affect drops in any way.
[h2]Additional information on idling and other stuff:[/h2]
This section will contain extra info and interesting stuff on idling for those who don't just want to idle and forget.
DeltaEcho made an interface for the batch files.
This is an early version which still needs tweaking. Advanced users ONLY.
Download M.A.I.D 2.21