You’ve probably put a lot of time into your Animal Crossing: New Horizons island. Nintendo will help you protect all your hard work with an island backup and restoration feature introduced in the second summer update.
Since launch, save files for Animal Crossing: New Horizons have been tied to your Nintendo Switch, which meant if your console was lost or stolen, all of your progress would be unrecoverable. Cloud saves make it possible for you to recover your game as long as you pay for a Nintendo Switch Online membership.
Here’s how to enable the island backup feature in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Update Your Game
Before you launch Animal Crossing: New Horizons on your Nintendo Switch, be sure you are connected to the internet to download the latest software update. You’ll need to be running Version 1.4.0 or higher. Without updating, you will not be able to access the new summer update content.
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So long as you’re connected to the internet before launching the game for the first time, the application launcher will automatically notify you that a new software update is available.
If you missed the automatic update notification, navigate to the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game launcher on your Nintendo Switch home screen and then open the “Options” menu by pressing the “+” button on your right Joy-Con controller.
You’ll see “Ver. 1.4.0” or higher in the top-left corner under the game title if you’re updated to the latest version. If not, select the “Software Update” tab and then choose the “Via The Internet” option to download the latest update to your Nintendo Switch.
Press the physical “A” button on your controller to submit any changes. After the game has been updated and it has been launched, a prompt will inform you that your save data will be updated to the latest version release.
Back up Save Data
On the Animal Crossing: New Horizons title screen, you’ll see a new bit of text under “Settings” that reads “Backups – Not Set.” Go ahead and press the “-” button on your left Joy-Con controller to access the “Settings” menu.
Tom Nook will greet you and provide a few different options, such as the ability to delete your character profiles or delete your island. The new option is “Island Backup.”
Select “Island Backup” from Tom Nook’s list and he’ll go over some details that you need to know. To summarize, the “Island Backup” service is intended for use when your Nintendo Switch console has been lost or damaged; it’s a way to upload your Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data for safekeeping.
When island backup is enabled, your save data will be uploaded automatically, so long as your device is connected to the internet, and only while you’re not actively playing the game. You must have an active Nintendo Switch Online membership to use this service.
After you’ve read the explanation and you’re ready, select “Enable Island Backup.” After reading through a few more details (explained above), select “Yep! Enable, Please!” from the menu.
The island backup will begin and your game will save. Afterward, you will be sent back to the Animal Crossing title screen. You will now see that the bottom-left corner says “Backups – Enabled” under the “Settings” button.
If you’d like to confirm that the backup service is working, the date and time of the most recent backup will be displayed on the lower-left corner of the title screen (after you’ve completely closed the game and you are not actively playing).
If you’d like to cancel the island backup service, go back into the “Settings” menu from the Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ title screen by pressing the “-” button on your left Joy-Con controller and ask Tom Nook about the “Island Backup” service once more. From there, select “Disable Island Backup.”
You can find more details about the island backup service on Nintendo’s Support website.
Restore Save Data
If you have uploaded data, it can be restored later if your Nintendo Switch is lost or damaged. Recovery is only available in situations where you have to purchase a new console or your damaged one is fixed, and an active Nintendo Online membership is required to access the recovery feature.
In the event of loss or damage, contact Nintendo Consumer Support, and a representative can help you restore the island and user save data on your new or repaired Nintendo Switch console.
If your system was repaired by a Nintendo Service Center, your save data may already be on the system. Open Animal Crossing: New Horizons and your island may appear on the title screen.
If your island doesn’t appear automatically, double-check that you’re connected to the internet and be sure that you’ve updated your game version to 1.4.0. Launch Animal Crossing: New Horizons again and hold down the “-” button on your left Joy-Con controller when you see the black Nintendo logo screen.
If Timmy and Tommy appear at the reception desk, close the game and try again. You can close the game by pressing the Home button on your Switch, press “X” on your right Joy-Con controller, and then hit “Close.”
If island data cannot be found, it may be because your Nintendo Switch is not currently connected to the internet, or the Nintendo Account that you are currently signed in to is not the same account that holds the restore data.
A new prompt will appear for you to search for recoverable island save data. If multiple islands were uploaded, you will be given the option to choose which island you’d like to restore to your Switch. Select “Yes, please!” to confirm that you are ready to restore the selected island backup. Any island that is currently installed on the Nintendo Switch will be replaced with the selected island backup.
After the island save data is recovered, the game will restart, and you will return to the title screen.
The island backup feature has been long requested since the Animal Crossing: New Horizons launch, with a petition that reached 22,000 supporters. With this new feature, players can safely and securely back up their save data without worry of losing progress and starting over if their console is lost, damaged, or stolen.