Stardew Valley, the smash hit indie farming simulation role-playing game, is the kind of game players get quite attached to after sinking a lot of time into their farms, their relationships with the characters, and building their skills. Let’s look at how to safely backup your game so your farm is always safe.
Before we dive into the specifics of manually backing up your game, let’s highlight a key point about how Stardew Valley saves your game. Stardew Valley does not use an incremental save system like, say, Skyrim. It has a one-and-done save slot like an old school Nintendo game. Every single time you go to bed in the game, your old game save slot is overwritten with the new game save. If that single save is deleted, corrupted, or otherwise rendered unplayable, you’re just out of luck.
With that in mind, there are three kinds of game save backups a Stardew Valley player should worry about, depending on their needs and play style:
- a backup of their current game so they don’t lose their progress in the event of a computer problem
- incremental backups of their game if they would like to “snapshot” their progress to potentially return to a past point
- a backup before modifying game files or introducing game mods to ensure a bad mod job doesn’t torch their farm.
Even if you don’t want a chance to roll back the clock or play with mods, having a backup of your game is important so you don’t lose all your progress. Stardew Valley is the kind of game you invest significant time into—it takes roughly 26 hours of real-world time to advance through the first in-year game.
Note: If you purchased the game through Steam (and have not manually disabled Steam Cloud file saving) then every time you exit the game while your computer is online, a new copy of the save game is uploaded to the Steam servers. Players who purchased the game from outside of Steam and are playing it without activating it on Steam—or Steam players who simply wish to have multiple backups—need to manually backup their game saves.
To manually backup your Stardew Valley game save, you first need to locate the game save directory on your computer. Regardless of your operating system, all Stardew Valley game saves take the same sturcture: a folder with some XML files inside (and, in fact, you can transfer your game saves between different operating systems with no issue). That game save folder is located at the following places in different operating systems:
- Windows: C:
Windows users can jump right to the folder by pasting
%AppData%\StardewValley\Saves\ into the Run box and hitting enter. Inside the folder you will find one sub folder for each of your Stardew Valley characters (if you only have one character there will only be one folder). Each character’s folder is named something like
Charactername_XXXXXXXXX. While the Xs are a seemingly random number, they actually represent the time, in seconds, after the game’s release date on June 22 2012 that the character was created).
Just back that entire folder up however you wish—copy it to a flash drive for safe keeping, schedule regular incremental backups with your favorite backup app, etc.—and you’ll always have not only a backup copy to fall back on but, if you backup regularly, “revisions” of your game you can return to.
In addition to backing things up for safe keeping, you can also take advantage of an undocumented trick. If you make a copy of a character’s save folder using a slightly different name—but leaving it in the same directory—then in game, you’ll see multiple saves (just with differing amount of time played). In the screenshot below, we have our main game save as well as a copy of our main game save made at a point in the past.
When we load the actual game and open the save selection screen, you’ll see there are two copies of the game with two different progress points listed (as evidenced by both the hours played on each game save as well as which day of which in-game year we’re on).
While most people simply play their game straight through, this trick allows you to create a fall back point, or even play dual timelines where the timeline diverges for your character at a critical point in the game.
Regardless of your motivation for backing up your game save, as long as you do so, your masterful work-in-progress farm will always be safe—come modding disaster or hard drive failure.