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I am going to be getting a new computer with an SSD next week and want to be able to effectively preload my games (i.e. not have to start over or transfer save data manually). As I see it, I want the game files to be on the SSD and the game saves on a HD. I have an external HD.

Is backing up my games (via the Steam backup command) the correct thing to do?

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    You only want games on your SSD that really need it, like Games that use a lot of streaming, such as MMORPGs, Skyrim, Witcher and other games like that. No need to put all of them there. Also, you can just copy the files from your hdd to your steam library on your ssd, then uninstall in Steam and then tell Steam to redownload while selecting your ssd library as the installation target. – user28015 Jul 10 '14 at 1:38
  • And it will realize that they are already on there? Is there a way to download the game to the HD if they are already on my computer? Thanks – Thoth19 Jul 10 '14 at 2:12
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    If you move the files from one Steam Library to the other, yes Steam will recognize the existing files. gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/158045/… – user28015 Jul 10 '14 at 4:52
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    @NoneOfYourBusiness only if it's the same OS structure. I went from 32 bit to 64 bit and everything broke for me :( – franglais Jul 10 '14 at 14:37
  • There's no reason that the save files need to be on an HDD. They just have to be where the game will look for them. Usually this is, by default, on the OS drive. So if your OS is installed on an SSD, that's where the games will look for save files. – stone Dec 30 '14 at 21:10
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This is the software that i use. It will allow you to make a new folder for steam that can be linked to your standard folder.

This is the method that i would personally use and have used in the past.

Although it can be done by copying files but i have found that some games just don't like that and end up not working.

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Razer Game Booster will back up your saved games to a cloud storage service (I linked my dropbox account).

Check here for the list of supported games: http://www.razerzone.com/gamebooster#supportedgames

If you don't want to download all of the games again, you will still need to follow the steps that NoneOfYourBusiness referred to.

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I strongly advise to stay the hell away from Steam's backup feature. It usually does more harm than good.

I suggest manually copying the game folders (and saves, should they be stored somewhere else) of the games you want to quickly restore to your backup location and then to the SSD.

When you do that, delete the .exe file that starts the game, otherwise Steam will be unable to detect previously downloaded content. That .exe file will be the only thing you have to redownload, per game.

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    I've never deleted the .exe and it always works fine for me. I don't think that step is necessary. I agree that manually copying is smoother than using steam's backup feature. – stone Dec 30 '14 at 21:06
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    @skypecakes It never worked for me, Steam just went on to download everything again if I didn't delete it. In any case, better to be safe. – No. 7892142 Dec 31 '14 at 10:57
  • @stone and No.: They may have made use of the Steam-as-DRM option of "Custom Executable Generation". – l3l_aze Jun 9 at 22:03
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Steam's built-in backup is an option, but it's about 50/50. Some people think it's the best thing since sliced bread, others would like to slice it up as if it were bread. Personally I tried once and it failed and I went manual after that.

Another option is "manual" backup and restore but it would be best with a script -- manually moving save files (which may not go into the same exact spot on Windows because of different paths across versions...lol) is not really fun. There's also the problem of not all saves being in the same folders as there's no real standard unless they're using Steam Cloud...in which case you don't have to care unless you're extremely worried about losing the game save.

On Windows, GameSave-Manager is an option for automation but it doesn't support all games by default. Do not use Link & Sync unless you're confident in your nerd skills as it will setup junctions/symbolic links that can screw your games up bad up if any part is improperly removed.

On all systems you can manually find saves at the paths listed on PCGamingWiki, but it doesn't have all games data listed though they're trying.

Steam/steamapps folder will contain your installed apps (in the /common folder) and their manifest files (necessary for the client to easily recognize that they're installed). External Library Folders will have their own steamapps folders that need to also be copied, but you can merge them all together. Steam/userdata/{youruniqueuserid} contains files that are synched with Steam Cloud including game saves, but some can be destroyed by a fresh install. /7/remote/sharedconfig.vdf in particular contains your "categories" and is a tragic loss if you've manually built one.

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