Steam games take up a lot of space on a computer. They also take a long time to download. It is because of this, it may be a good idea to backup Steam games you’re not playing. This allows you to play them whenever you want without having to download them again, and you can save space on your local disk.
SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.
In this article, we’ll go over all of the best ways to back up Steam games on Linux and how to back up your entire Steam installation.
Backup Steam Games – Steam Client
Backing up a Steam game directly with the Steam client is probably the best way to go about saving games to restore for later. This is because Steam can easily pack up all the DRM involved in the game, and move it quite efficiently. To back up a single game, log into Steam and go to Library>Installed from the menu bar at the top.
Under the “installed” section, find a game you’d like to back up, and right-click on it. From here, click “Backup game files”. This should open up a tool that will walk you through exactly how to backup a Steam game.
In the tool, you’ll notice that the game you’ve tried to backup has a checkmark next to it. If you’d like to back up more than one game at a time on Steam, do so by holding the Ctrl button down on the keyboard, and then clicking on as many games as you’d like to backup. Each game you select should show up with a white checkbox next to it in the backup dialog.
With all the games selected, click “Next” on the tool to move on to the actual backup process. By default, Steam will try to save your backups in the same folder that Steam is installed in (the ~/.steam folder). This isn’t a good directory, especially if your intention is to back up the games in a different area.
Instead, click browse and then use the dialog window to browse for an alternative backup location. When the backup is set, click “next” to move on to the next step in the process.
On the next page, Steam asks to select a file size. This is due to the fact that Steam can’t back up an entire game into a single file. Instead, it needs to compress everything and split it up. This isn’t a bad thing and actually makes moving around files easier, as they aren’t as big.
Under file sizes, select either CD (about 700-ish MB per file), DVD (about 4.7 GB per file). Alternatively, select the custom option to set your own size. When you’ve decided on the correct size, click “Next” to start the backup.
This process will take a long time, depending on how large the Steam game is, so don’t panic. Steam will tell you when the backup is complete. When the backup is finished, click on “Open Backup Folder” to move the files to wherever you’d like to save them.
Restoring Steam Client Backup
To restore a Steam game on the Linux Steam client, log into the app. From here, you’ll need to connect any external drives that you’ve used for backups or connect to remote file systems, and etc. Once you’ve done all of that, click on “Steam” in the top-right corner, and select the “Backup and restore games” option. Selecting this brings up a dialog window with two options. The first option says “Backup currently installed programs”. Ignore that and instead select “Restore a previous backup”.
Steam should automatically discover backups on the system. If for some reason your Steam game backups are not detected, you’ll need to click the “Browse” button and manually locate exactly where you’ve saved your backups. When you’ve found the backup on your Linux PC, click the “Next” button to start the restore process.
This process is going to take a lot of time, depending on how large the backups are, how fast your hard drive is, how fast the storage location of the backup is, and etc. The best thing to do is to let Steam do its thing, and be patient. Before long, your games will be playable again.
Back Up Steam Installation
Want to back up your entire Steam installation on Linux rather than just individual games? If so, follow these steps.
Step 1: Using the mkdir command, create a backup folder to copy all of the Steam files to.
Step 2: Copy all of the contents of the Steam folder to the Steam backup folder using the CP command.
cp -a ~/.steam/. ~/steam-backup
From here, feel free to move the ~/steam-backup folder from your home directory to an external hard drive, cloud storage provider, server and etc. When you’d like to restore the backup, do the following:
Note: be sure to first move the ~/steam-backup folder back to /home/username/ before attempting to restore anything.
cp -a ~/steam-backup/. ~/.steam