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How to Back Up and Restore PC Games

How to Enable Cloud Saves

by George Mensah
pcgames...slashbeats

You never know when a hard drive failure or an unintentional re-format will wipe out all your hard-earned game progress, so it’s best to be prepared. Just as you should back up your important files, you should also back up your PC games in case of disaster.

Backing up you save files or the entire game is possible with game launchers such as Steam, Epic Games Store, EA, GOG Galaxy, and Ubisoft Connect. Here’s how to enable cloud saves and back up and restore your games.

The files for a game can (almost) always be re-downloaded, but your game saves are irreplaceable. Without backups, the only way to restore a garage full of GTA V cars you spent hours gaining and customizing is to start over. Fortunately, every major game client will do most of the work for you.

Game launchers can automatically backup your settings, saves, and other data to their own cloud services. Default should enable these options, but you can double-check them in the following places:

Steam: Navigate to Steam > Settings > Cloud > Enable Steam Cloud Synchronization for Applications That Support It and check the box. You can also right-click any game and select Properties, then check the Cloud Synchronization box under the Updates tab.

Epic Games Online Store: Select Settings after clicking your profile. Check that Enable Cloud Saves is checked under Preferences.

GOG Galaxy: Click the gear icon in the upper left corner and navigate to Settings > Game Features, then check that the Cloud Saves option is enabled.

Connect with Ubisoft: Navigate to Settings > General, then check the box next to Enable cloud save synchronization for supported games.

If you’re still using the old Origin app, go to Origin > Application Settings > Installs & Saves and check the box next to Cloud Storage. The new EA app does not yet support cloud saving.

Because save files don’t take up much space, you can also manually backup those saves. Simply locate where a specific game’s save files are stored on your computer, then copy the file to a new location for safekeeping. You may need to look up the game in question to determine where the save files are kept.

For example, games that use Steam’s cloud saves may store these files in C:Program Files (x86)SteamUserdata. Some games may also save their files in your Documents folder—look for a folder with the game’s title, the publisher’s name, or within My Games folder. Other titles may bury saves in the %APPDATA% folder of your user.

Once you’ve determined where all of your save files are, simply copy those folders to your backup drive for safekeeping. Ideally, use a backup tool that does this on a regular and automatic basis, such as Windows’ built-in File History or Time Machine for macOS. You may also prefer to use a dedicated cloud backup service.

As long as you include those game-save folders in your backup alongside your other personal files, you’ll always have them handy—and you can restore them to their original location on a new drive to pick up where you left off.

Backing up your game saves may be sufficient if you have a good internet connection; after all, if you want to return to a game later, you can simply re-download it from Steam. However, if your internet connection is slow, backing up all of the game’s files to another drive allows you to reinstall it much more quickly in the future.

It’s also useful if you have a lot of mods installed that took a long time to get just right (my fellow Dovahkiin know what I mean). You’ll need more space on your backup drive than you would for save files, but storage is cheap these days.

To move a game to a different drive while keeping it playable, go to Steam > Settings > Downloads > Steam Library Folders and click the + button. You can right-click any game, navigate to the Local Files tab, and move it to the new library on your secondary drive by creating a new Steam library on that drive.

See our guide on moving PC games to another hard drive for more information and instructions on other game clients.

Copy the game’s installation folder to your backup drive if you want to back up the game files but don’t need them to be playable (just ready to re-install in the future). You can also backup the folder automatically with File History. Then you can uninstall the game.

Steam games will be saved in C:Program Files (x86)Steamsteamappscommon, whereas it will save GOG games in C:Program Files (x86)GOG GalaxyGames. Other launchers, such as Battle.net, will create separate game folders in C:Program Files.

If you uninstalled the game and want to play it again, simply restore the folder to its original location and click install in the game client. Instead of downloading everything from remote servers, it will inspect the files and verify their integrity so you can start playing right away.

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Alternatively, if you have the space, you could keep your entire C:Program Files (x86)Steam folder backed up with the rest of your personal data, ensuring that nothing is ever lost.

However, if you have any mods installed, make sure to backup those as well—third-party tools such as Nexus Mod Manager may have their own backup methods(Opens in a new window), so be sure to read up on the game and mods in question. You don’t want to start from scratch the next time you want to play Minecraft.

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