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How to Backup, Restore, and Sync Your Minecraft Saves on All Your PCs

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Minecraft creations can be huge and intricate, so you may want to back up your saved games, just in case. With a Dropbox account, however, you can take it one step further and access your save files from any computer.

Where Are the Save Files?

As we mentioned in our How To Get Started With Minecraft article, the game is in the form of an executable Jar file. It creates a directory on your computer for your saved worlds and settings, but it differs depending on what OS you’re running.

On Windows:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft

Take note that the AppData directory is hidden, so be sure to show hidden files from within Folder Options.

On Mac OS:

/Users/username/Library/Application Support/minecraft

On Linux:

/home/username/.minecraft

Take note that the .minecraft directory is hidden in your home folder, so if you’re using Nautilus, hit CTRL+H to show hidden files.

Inside, you’ll find some files and folders, but the only really important one is the “saves” folder. Inside, you’ll find your different Minecraft worlds.

save folder

The “saves” folder is what you want to back up. If you’re running a server, whatever directory the server’s executable file is in should have a folder with the world’s name. The default is just “world,” but you probably want to back up the entire server folder, so you save all of the settings as well. If you’re running a Bukkit server, this goes for double since all of your plugins will also have their own settings.

Dropbox Synching

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just keep your save files in one place, but have it be accessible by Minecraft on all of your computers? Using Dropbox, this is pretty easy to do.

First of all, make sure you have a backup of your save file somewhere else, in case you mess up. Next, move the “saves” folder from its original location to your Dropbox folder:

db save

To recap, you should NOT have a “saves” folder in your Minecraft settings folder. You should have one somewhere in Dropbox and saved somewhere else as a backup.

Now comes the tricky part: you have to create “symbolic links” to that folder on your computer, using the command-line. It’s not very difficult, regardless of what system you’re on.

On Windows:

Go to Start > Accessories and right-clock on “Command Prompt.” Choose “Run as Administrator…”

Navigate to your Minecraft directory with the following command:

cd “C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft”

The quotes will let the command execute properly even if there’s a space in there somewhere.

Next, make a symbolic link to your Dropbox saves folder with the following command:

mklink –d “saves” “C:\path\to\Dropbox\saves”

Remember to enter the proper path in place of “path\to\Dropbox”. You’ll see a message pop up if you did it correctly.

cp mklink

On Mac OS:

Open up Terminal and enter the following command:

ln -s /Users/username/path/to/Dropbox/saves /Users/username/Library/Application\ Support/minecraft/saves

Remember to fill in your username in place of “username” and enter the proper path in place of “path/to/Dropbox”.

On Linux:

Open up a terminal and enter the following command:

ln –s /path/to/Dropbox/saves /home/username/.minecraft/saves

Remember to fill in your username in place of “username” and enter the proper path in place of “path/to/Dropbox”.

That’s it! Now, instead of having to manually copy/paste the saves folder on your computers, they’re configured to automatically use the “saves” folder in your Dropbox. We’re big Dropbox fans here at How-To Geek, but you could use another service if you like as well, such as Ubuntu One if you’re using Linux. Be sure to backup this folder to somewhere safe every so often!

If you’re new to Minecraft and want a run-down of what it’s about, check out How To Get Started With Minecraft, a Game Geeks Love, and if you’re looking for multiplayer, check out How To Start Your Own Minecraft Server. Now go forth, fellow crafters, and build without fear!

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 04/22/11

Comments (8)

  1. Graeme

    I remember having tried doing this before a few months back and I recall having a bit of a problem because whenever I played Minecraft there would be somewhere in the realm of 1000 to 2000 files constantly being updated through Dropbox, which made it a bit slow when I had to save other important files. Granted, saves probably only take up tens of megabytes, but I remember it slowed down my Dropbox performance a bit. Haven’t tried it since Notch changed up the Minecraft saves, so maybe it’s different now?

  2. Tangmeister

    So just to make sure I get this, if I do this on computer A, then on computer B I simply have to delete the Program Files location Saved folder and set up the link again from Dropbox, right?

  3. RPMiller

    Or you could just avoid all this and use Minecraft Portable: http://www.minecraftforum.net/viewtopic.php?t=40225

    It allows you to play Minecraft on any computer without having to worry about syncing files, storing them on the PC, or worrying about whether Java is installed or not. It is also a very simple task to just copy the Saves folder right off the flash drive you are using.

  4. Bilbo Baggins

    Ah yes. Also great for multi computer usage. Just make sure you don’t do it on more than one computer at a time, ’cause then you get conflicted versions, and all your hard work goes to waste

  5. NiL

    Thanks Frnd…………….

  6. Bjarnovikus

    Indeed, as long as you don’t play the same world on two different computers there is no way you can do something wrong (or your internet connection fails, but that means that one computer still has the correct files).

    And I’ve already learned how to make symbolic links on Windows. Didn’t know that actually..; I Should try it out on my new laptop soon.

  7. joe

    my laptop crashed. is there any way to get the saved files that were on that computer to a new laptop?

  8. ceandros

    I want to make a link between a single map (and not the whole thing), so anybody can download my map from dropbox, but not the other ones, but now, minecraft don’t detect the map !
    How could I cut the link or make minecraft detect the map ?

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