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Using the Steam Backup Feature

How do I use the Steam backup feature to save copies of my game files and restore my game files from backup copies?


Many games that use third party installers or downloaders will not work with Steam's backup feature. This includes many MMO style or third party free to play titles. Only games that completely download, install, and patch through Steam are compatible with this tool.


Backups for Valve games created with this feature will not include saved games, custom multiplayer maps or configuration files. To backup your entire installation (including custom content), ensure that copies of all custom files are in the following folders in the path: C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\<username>\<game name>\<abbreviated game name>\ :

  • /cfg/ - Custom configurations and configuration scripts
  • /downloads/ - Custom content for multiplayer games
  • /maps/ - Custom maps which have been installed or downloaded during multiplayer games
  • /materials/ - Custom textures and skins
  • /SAVE/ - Single-player saved games

To locate your saves for third party games, please see this forum post:

Steam Save Game Locations

The files will need to be copied to the corresponding folders after restoring with the Steam backup feature.

Backing up all of your games:

It is recommended that you use the method outlined in Moving a Steam Installation as this will save time and simplify the backup and restore process.


Creating Backup Files

  1. Right-click the game in the Library section
  2. Select Backup game files...
  3. Check the boxes for any other games to backup at this time
  4. Click Next >
  5. Browse to the folder where you wish to create the backup files (the files will be stored in c:\program files\valve\steam\Backups by default) and click Next >
  6. Select the Backup file name and set the File size for the media you plan to use.
  7. Click Next > to begin the backup process.
  8. Once complete, choose Open backup folder  to move or burn copies of the backup files


We recommend testing the backup discs after their creation to ensure the integrity of the files for future reinstallation.

Restoring from Backup Files

  1. Install Steam and log in to the correct Steam account (see Installing Steam for further instructions)
  2. If the backup files were copied to a CD or DVD, the process should run automatically when the disc is inserted. If not, run steambackup.exe from the disc
  3. If steambackup.exe is missing, please download this copy of steambackup.exe and place it in the correct backup folder.
  4. Continue through the Steam windows to install the necessary games.



If the path to your Steam installation contains special characters, such as C:\Instalação\Steam, the restore process may not complete successfully. If this issue occurs, you may need to re-install Steam to a location without special characters, such as C:\Steam.


Alternative to the Backup Feature for Third-party Games

  1. Go to your \steamapps\ folder (by default, this folder is located at C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps or on 64-bit systems, C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps)
  2. Locate any .ncf files for the game.
  3. Locate this game's folder in the \common\ folder.
  4. Copy all of the .ncf files and the game folder to a disc or available hard drive for reinstallation
  5. For future installations, copy these files and folders to your new Steam installation. Make sure to place it back in the proper folder (\steamapps\ for .ncf files and \common\ for game folders).
  6. Re-start Steam and you may see a small download to confirm the newly identified install.


Valve games located in \steamapps\<Steam account name>\ may also be backed up using this process but your re-installation download can be much larger.  The normal backup disc option is recommended for these games.


To avoid problems in the future, make sure to test any backups that you create. If other applications interfere with the backup process or the backup process is interrupted, the backup may not be created successfully. Testing your backup will ensure that will not need to re-download the game at a later time.

Problem with Steam?

Contact Steam Support
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