With each passing day, cloud storage and backup is becoming more of a requirement than a feature in all our apps. In gaming we can see that in Steam’s Steam cloud. This feature allows you to save your game progress to the cloud, so that you can later continue from another device. Not only does that mean you can play at your desktop, then pickup exactly were you left in your laptop. It also means you don’t have to worry about loosing all your progress which could be many hours, because it’s all safe at Steam’s servers.
But what happens with older games which obviously won’t get a cloud backup update?
Well, I used to keep a folder in my external backup drive for all my saved games, which I had to update manually every time I remembered to, or before uninstalling a game, or adding a game mod, etc. Then I discovered Dropbox and started taking advantage of it. With Dropbox I just had to copy the save data to a folder inside Dropbox and that was it, I can access my game files from anywhere. But it was still not automatic, I had to browse to the game folder and copy the save folder over to my Dropbox folder, and that’s a lot of clicking and folder navigation which is boring.
So, what do you need to setup your automatic cloud backup?
Symbolic links! Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article in case you want to know more about what we’ll be using. Right now, I’ll focus in just what you need to know to keep your game data safe.
- A basic file backup and sync software like Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Access to the Windows command prompt (cmd.exe).
- Administrative privileges.
You have everything you need? Good, now here’s what you need to know.
- Decide where you want to keep your saved games. In my case I created the following folder: “Dropbox\Saved Games”
- Now create a folder for the game you want to backup. Let’s say we want to backup Skyrim’s data, your folder’s path should be something like “Dropbox\Saved Games\Skyrim”
- Move all the content from the Skyrims original folder, (in this case it’s usually “Documents\My Games\Skyrim”) to the folder you created in the previous step.
- Now go back to “My Games” and delete the Skyrim folder.
- Finally we’re ready to create the symbolic link, so open cmd with ad. Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt. Note that in order to be able to create symbolic links, you’ll need to right click on Command Prompt and choose “Run as administrator”
- In the command prompt enter the following command: mklink /d “C:\Users\[your_user_folder]\Documents\My Games\Skyrim” “C:\Users\[your_user_folder]\Dropbox\Saved Games\Skyrim”
- In the command prompt enter the following command: mklink /d “:\Users\jafuentest\Documents\My Games\Skyrim” “C:\Users\jafuentest\Dropbox\Saved Games\Skyrim”
- If done correctly you should see what appears to be a shortcut named Skyrim (or whatever your game folder needs to be called) in the My Games folder (or wherever your folder needs to be placed)
Here’s how the My Games folder looks like after I created the symbolic link, notice the shortcut arrow in the Skyrim folder.
The only difference is that when you open the Skyrim folder, it won’t take you to the linked folder inside Dropbox (or whatever your using) it will open it as if it the real folder was inside My Games
Now you can focus on playing and forget about the safety of your saved games because they will be kept safe at your file backup provider.