Video gaming is more prevalent in society than it has ever been. With the growth of E-sports and the plethora of gaming devices now available, there is no reason to think that this tendency will go down anytime soon. Not only are there more platforms, but there are also a lot of games being developed, from the big AAA console games to the more casual mobile ones. More people are spending time playing games, but also those people are putting more hours into playing those games. This means that we are producing more game data and we are becoming more reliant on making sure our game save files are available to us across all of our different platforms.
Why you should keep local copies
Some games can take a lot of hours out of our lives. There is no bigger waste of time than playing 20 hours out of a game, only to have to restart it from scratch because we have lost our save file. Most platforms will allow us to keep our saved game files online in the cloud, but this is not the case for every game nor every platform. Furthermore some platforms will only keep our online saves if we pay for a subscription fee.
Another good reason to keep spares of our save files is the fact that our devices are often the subject of many regular system updates, which can sometimes lead to the loss of our local game saves. Once again, there is nothing worse than having to restart a game we have already invested time into. This can actually discourage us to carry on playing certain games, which spoils our experience of it all.
Best hard drives to use
Luckily for us, most of the major gaming devices allow us to connect an external hard drive via their USB ports, and the best thing we can do is to purchase an external hard drive into which we can store our game saves on a regular basis. Traditional HDD’s are often the best value for our money, and most hard drives from a reputable manufacturer such as Western Digital are generally a safe bet. Ultimately, every hard drive can be prone to failure so it is good to regularly check our hard drives and of course treat them well (no drops, shocks and as little transport as possible). Worst comes to worst, we can always call upon hard drive recovery experts to restore our hard drive should it decide to fail. Just whatever you do, don’t attempt at opening a hard drive yourself, as this will most certainly lead to the drive failing altogether, with little chances of recuperating your precious save files!
Extracting save files (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
Here is a brief overview on how to extract our game save files from the three most know current-gen gaming platforms: The PS4, Xbox One and PC/ Steam.
For the PlayStation 4 (PS4), we will either need a USB hard drive or a USB stick which we will format using either the FAT32 or exFAT format option (here is a guide on how to do that). This is because the PS4 will only recognise USB storage devices which use those particular formats, so the NTFS format will not work. We then connect our USB device to our PS4 and go to: Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data on USB Storage Device > Copy to System Storage. After that, we just select the game whose game data we want to copy and we then press on our controller’s X button to add a checkmark near the actual save data we want to copy. After this is done, our game data is now saved onto our USB storage device.
The Xbox One method of saving game data onto an external USB device is similar to the PS4, except this time we need to make sure that we format our USB storage device using the NTFS file format. We then connect our USB device to our games console and go to: System > Storage > Device Options. Once there, we select the storage device which has the content we wish to transfer, followed by pressing the Y button on the game controller to access the device options. We then select Transfer content and then choose the device we want to transfer our content to. After this is done, our game data will then be available onto our USB storage device.
For our PC/Steam games, it is a bit simpler. We just need to connect our USB storage device, and this can be any format we wish it to be (NTFS, exFAT or FAT32). We then need to access our Steam save data folder which can be found here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata. In this folder we will find numbered folders. Each of those folders contain saved game data from our different games. It is not easy to tell which folder corresponds to which game, so it is best to either copy all of those folders onto our USB device (using drag and drop) or if you want to find out which number corresponds to which game, it is best to google that information!