Auto-Backup your saved games

11 May

Those of using Steam probably already know about Steamcloud, the service which automatically backs up the saves for certain games.  The problem is a lot of games that don’t support this and probably never will.  So I did some digging around online and managed to figure out how to set up a system to do this for you.  It’s fairly easy to get working and once you’ve set it up for a game you don’t need to worry about it again.

The first step is to install a file backup/sharing utility.  There’s quite a few available, but I’ll be using Dropbox for this guide since that’s what I’m already using.

Once you’ve got this set up you then need to find where your saved games are held for each game. For some it might be a single file called “Been.sav” or “data.sav” (if it ends in .sav it’s probably a save file).  Or it might be a large number of files and folders, all within another folder called “Save”.  You can back them up regardless, but there’s slightly different steps for each type.

Either case you’ll want to copy the save file(s) somewhere into your Dropbox folder.  Then open up a command prompt (Start menu, then “run” and type “cmd”) and do one of the following steps for each computer you’re using.

Single save file:

For single files you’ll be using a little utility called “fsutil”.  This comes pre-installed on Windows XP (and Windows Vista and 7 as far as I can tell) so you don’t need to install anything extra to get it working.  What you need to do is type the following command into the command prompt, swapping in the location you want to store the save file, and the location that the original file was held at.  You need to make sure you remove the save file from the original location (make sure you’ve backed it up first!).

C:\>fsutil hardlink create "new location" "old location"

For example, to move my Sonic 3 saved file to my Dropbox folder, I would type out something like this:

C:\>fsutil hardlink create "C:\Dropbox\Saved games\Sonic 3\sonic3.sav" "C:\Program Files\Sega\Sonic3\save.dat"

As you can see, the files don’t have to share the same name.  Now both of these files actually refer to the same file, it just has 2 different names and locations.  Practice with a few .txt files if you want some practice before just diving into moving and deleting your saved games.

Save folder:

As far as I can tell, there’s no built-in program for doing this in Windows XP, so you’ll need to get a (free) program called “Junction” which is available from Microsoft (There is a built-in version for Windows Vista/7, but I’ll say why I’m not using that later).  Using Junction isn’t much more difficult than using fsutil, except you have to first navigate to wherever you’ve stored the Junction program.  The easiest way to do this is to copy to your main C:\ drive, then type “cd\” into the command prompt.  To set up the link between the folders though, you type the following

C:\>junction "new location" "original location" 

So if I wanted to back up my Baldur’s Gate saved games folder I’ll type something like this

C:\>junction "C:\Dropbox\Saved games\Baldur's Gate\" "C:\Program files\Black Isle\Baldur's Gate\Saved games\"

And that’s that.  Just like when you’re backing up a single save file, it doesn’t matter if you name the directories anything different.

mklink for Windows Vista/7:

If you’re using Windows Vista/7 there’s a built-in program you can use called mklink.  This does the same thing as junction, only you don’t have to go to the same folder every time you want to use it.  However, it doesn’t let you run it on an administrator’s account, so you have to create another user account with the ability to create symbolic links.  That makes it a bit too lengthy to cram into this post, but if you’d like to check it out you can follow these links to find out about mklink and how to get it working.


Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Computing, Gaming


Tags: , , ,

5 responses to “Auto-Backup your saved games

  1. captainhairy

    May 11, 2012 at 11:11 am

    This is all very informative, but I’ll just leave this here:

    • hyperbeen

      May 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

      I can’t really check that out at work, but one issue that I see is that it only backs up the games based on a schedule, whereas junctioning the files directly to your Dropbox backs them up whenever they change, and keeps a history to boot. Apart from that it looks damn useful and a lot less hassle to set up and use if you’re not a fan of the command line. I’ll give it a proper look when I get home.

      • captainhairy

        May 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

        One of the many nice things about the program is that it also has the ability to create symlinks / junctions automatically for everything. It can also create links for individual games in your Steam library if, for example, you have an SSD and want to have everything installed at once, but still want a few of the games to utilise the SSD’s speed.

      • hyperbeen

        May 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm

        Ok, I’ve checked out Gamesave Manager briefly, and it does seem pretty good. Aside from the delayed backups thing, I have noticed a couple of quirks with it. Namely a couple of games such as Recettear don’t show up in the list. More annoyingly, a couple of games that use Steam Cloud show up in the list. I don’t imagine having two different things trying to synchronise my saved games at the same time would work out too well… Makes me somewhat aprehensive about just leaping in and syncing all my games at once.

        I might try it out for the odd game here and there, but only when I’m positive that I’m not using it for a Steamcloud game.

      • captainhairy

        May 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm

        The thing actually defaults to not including Steam Cloud games in backups, although you can force it to.


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