Steam users have several reasons for backing up some of their Steam games. Maybe they want to move the games to a new computer so that they do not have to download the games again there, or they would like to save their single player save games to copy them to another system or preserve them for future sessions. Users who only want to move Steam to another hard drive can look at How To Move The Steam Folder To Another Drive for detailed instructions on how to do that.
As far as backup is concerned, there are differences between first party games created by Valve and third party games that are distributed via Steam.
You can backup any game on Steam by right-clicking on the game in the Steam library and selecting backup game files from the context menu.
Please note that you can only backup games that are currently installed. Games that you own but are not installed will not be available for backup.
Steam displays a backup and restore games window where additional installed games can be added to the backup. Once you have selected all games, you have to select a location for the backups. Steam displays the space requirements and available disk space here. Make sure there is enough backup space on the drive.
Steam offers to split the file size of the backup so that it can be stored on CDs or DVDs. It is also possible to select a custom maximum file size, good for users who want to burn the data on Blu-Ray or move it to other storage devices with space restrictions.
Steam will then show a backup progress bar. It is possible to open the folder that contains the backup in the end.
To restore game files, you need to select Backup and Restore games from the Steam menu at the top. Select Restore a previous backup there and select the location on the computer that contains the backups.
Please note that backups will not include save games. For Valve games, custom multiplayer maps and configuration files will also not be included in the backup. You need to create manual copies of those files. You find Valve custom game contents in the following locations:
The following folders contain custom game contents:
- /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
An official thread on the Steam forum highlights save locations for third party games.
[USERNAME] -- The name of the Windows account you use on your computer
[STEAMNAME] -- The name of your Steam account
[STEAMID] -- A numerical identifier for your Steam account
[STEAMPATH] -- The default location where Steam is installed
Windows 32-bit: C:\Program Files\Steam\
Windows 64-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\
[STEAMAPPS] -- The default location for Steam Games
All versions: [STEAMPATH]\steamapps\
[STEAMCLOUD] -- Files that synchronize with the Steam Cloud
All versions: [STEAMPATH]\userdata\[STEAMID]\
General Windows locations
[DOCUMENTS] -- The default location for the "My Documents" shell folder/library
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\My Documents\
Windows Vista: C:\Users\[USERNAME]\Documents\
[APPDATA] -- The default location for standard application settings
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Application Data\
Windows Vista: C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\
[LOCAL] -- The default location for system-specific application settings
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Local Settings\
Windows Vista: C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\
[PUBLICDATA] -- The default location for cross-user application settings
Windows XP: C:\Documents and settings\All Users\Application Data\
Windows Vista: C:\ProgramData\
[PUBLIC] -- The default location for cross-user system settings
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\
Windows Vista: C:\Users\Public\
[SAVEDGAMES] -- The Windows Vista default Saved Games folder
Windows Vista: C:\Users\[DOCUMENTS]\Saved Games\
You can also take a look at the official support Knowledgebase article that contains further information about backing up and restoring Steam games.
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