How to backup your Steam Deck? Backing up Files/Directories on Steam Deck

You are maybe interested in backing up your save games, your games in general or your profile from Steam Deck. Maybe you would even like to backup your whole Steam Deck! In this guide I will show you a few options how to do that. In part one we will cover backing up/syncing to external USB SSD storage and to network drive. In Part 2 we will be imaging whole system.

We will try a couple of methods, which will include external SSDs and copying over network or imaging your Steam Deck.

A lot of things will be done via external SSD drives (you can also use MicroSD if you can spare one and don’t need to backup from MicroSD through Steam Deck) or through local network.

So, main prerequisite will be to understand how your local network works, and how you can attach/detach Linux formatted drive to Windows – I covered all these topics in this guide

For this guide having keyboard and mouse will make your life easier

Please be sure to check it out and configure what you need – if we cover network topics again in this guide, this would be a book.

OK, let’s start

I like to use mostly tools that come with OS, but in this case that is not entirely possible. Mainly because there are no good and easy to use tools built in. SO, I will use tools with which I’m familiar (most are free), and which I use for years on daily basis.

What we need to backup?

There are three point we would like to backup – please if I missed something and you think is important let me know through email, twitter…

Folder /home/deck is our home folder – if we do something it will be in here


Another one (inside our home folder) which we may like to backup separately is (you will want to turn on Show Hidden Files option in Dolphin File Explorer inside Steam Desktop to see it) compadata – here your games should be


And the last one is our MicroSD card, it should be in


Ok, we now understand what we need to backup

Where will we backup?

This is completely up to you – you can use external USB/SSD, MicroSD, or network share – all of these topics I covered here

I will cover both external SSD and Network Shares, to check this is working.

If you have antivirus solution that is jumpy, it will probably delete your Proton files if you backup them – make sure you make exception to Steam backup/sync folders if you are doing backup to Windows file share

Make sure you have exception to Steam folder if you plan to backup to windows file share with sensitive AV

Backup files/folders with FreeFileSync

External SSD scenario

Ok, here is my first method, we will backup three locations mentioned above with FreeFIleSync. It is free tool, I use it extensively for years and it works good (in my use case). Please don’t forget to donate if you find it very useful and in everyday workflow.

Let’s install it. I will start Discover store – in search I will enter FreeFileSync – it will find it, and I will install it (I won’t go through install procedure here)

I prepared my external SSD for this test

Setup is from my Network Sharing Guide, so be sure to check it out

Installed app will be in Utilities – FreeFileSync

Before we begin, I covered my external SSD and Network setup in my Network Sharing Guide

On my external SSD I created three folders – SDHome, SDCompatdata, SDMicroSD

SD at the beginning is standing for MicroSD. I did the same folder setup on my network.

SDHome will be in sync with /home/deck , SDCompatdata will be in sync with /home/deck/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/compatdata and SDMicroSD in sync with /run/media/mmcblk0p1

Folder structure on my external SSD

Same folder structure is on my network share on Windows PC

Ok, time for FreeFileSync – start it

Support it with donation – it is really great open source project, ad free, so if you find it useful, support the developer.

I have my Donation Edition already 🙂

Ok, back to our backup task

First I will quickly go through comparison settings – just so you can see what are the options

Comparison tab – you can select method with which you will compare same files – will the file that has latest file and time “win” and overwrite other size with older file time and smaller size.

There is also file content and file size method, that work on same principle. I usually select File time and size – I occasionally get file conflicts and app doesn’t know what side is newer, but you can rectify that manually by selecting, but that is very very rare.

On filter tab you can select what you would like to include or exclude from syncing. I will left that as it is.

Now, last part is synchronization – for this scenario I will leave Two way synchronization – but you can select for yourself what suits you most.

I will quickly describe what each option does. Be aware that Mirror and Update rules work from left to right

You can sync however you wish – from external SSD to Steam Deck, from Steam Deck to external SSD, both ways… You can fit this however you like

Two way – propagates changes on both sides – depending on comparison rule you set

Mirror – creates a mirror backup of the folder on left side, by adapting right folder to match

Update – copy new and updated files to the right folder

Custom – define how you like

Ok, finally we can start, on the left side I will define folder on Steam Deck, and on the right side in one job I will define my external SSD folder, and in second job I will define my Network share (a bit more complicated) on the right.

Easiest way to do this in Linux is to get path to folder through File Explorer (Dolphin) – so let’s do one for Steam Deck, and one for external SSD, so you can get feeling how it looks like

I will navigate to compadata folder on Steam Deck

Go to File Explorer on Steam Deck (Dolphin) and navigate to /home/deck and then from the right side of your File Explorer select hamburger menu and press Show Hidden Files – now you will see .local folder (folder with dot in the beginning are hidden in Linux) and you can navigate to


When you are there, click with mouse in path part of the File Explorer

It will turn to text, select it, copy it and paste in left part on FreeFileSync

Paste path in left part of FreeFileSync

Ok, let’s now repeat the process, with right part – we want to backup on our external SSD – we want to backup compatdata folder from Steam Deck to SDCompatdata folder on our external SSD

Procedure is the same, go to your external SSD open (select it from Removable Devices panel in left bottom part of File Manager) and select and enter folder – if it is now shown, make sure it is mounted to your SteamOS

Copy path to right part of FreeFileSync

Ok, I copied my external SSD folder path to right part of the FreeFileSync screen – now I will click on green + sign in FreeFileSync to add other two folders. Repeat the process yourself – left side Steam Deck folder – right side corresponding external SSD folder.

Here is the end result. When I created all three sync folder jobs – I saved with Save as – my current settings for this job. Logic of the lines is -folder on the left side should synchronize to the designated folder on the right side – I explained my logic earlier.

Each line should fit with folders.

Let’s try our job and press Compare button on top of FreeFileSync

I got an error – folder lost+found on MicroSD cannot be synced – I will Ignore the error, because, in reality it doesn’t matter – you can put that folder in excpetions.

Job is done, we can see green arrows all the way from right to left – that means that content from our Steam Deck will be synced to our external SSD

I will now press Synchronize – (remember – on the screenshot above, where I shown you the Compatdata path on my external SSD – that folder is empty)

Dialog says that it will sync 9.19GB and 62.899 files from right to left – Start

You will get that FreeFileSync is unable to synchronize one more file steam.pipe – ignore

Sync is going now

We are done – with two errors – we were not able to sync Lost+Found folder from MicroSD card, and steam.pipe file from /home/deck/.steam/ folder. Also three warnings, because we are syncing first time and the difference between folders on right and left side is huge (left folders are empty)


You will now see that only steam.pipe file is left to sync – and it will give you error again

According to the internet steam.pipe file is not important in backup scheme, because Steam should be able to recreate it in a new environment. Also Lost+Found folder on MicroSD is system folder – which again is specific to running system – and we shouldn’t be bothered by it in a backup.

I excluded those two items with adding */steam.pipe and */lost+found to Filter Exclude list for all folder pairs

After I press compare and synchronize again, I will always get some more files to sync

That is why we selected whole /home/deck folder – our user folder, and from the items below we can see that these are log files for Steam and FreeFileSync – we can safely ignore this, since logs will be updated with every our action on the system.

So, what I will do is – I will also exclude */baloo , */.local/share/Steam/logs and */.var/app/org.freefilesync.FreeFileSync from syncing – to me it just doesn’t make sense to sync these

In scenario where you backup your entire /home folder there will always be something new – because caches and logs change all the time in real time – don’t be alarmed by that, it is normal!

You can simply select folders you wish to sync – like Documents, Downloads, Compatdata. Scenario with entire /home/user folder makes little sense to me – but it can be done, and we done it – just don’t be alarmed since there is always one or two new files to sync – it is normal. By each new click you are generating new log or system change.

Let’s check our external SSD and most important folder – compatdata. When compared to local folder on Steam Deck – it is identical!!

Home folder is also fully synced

We will now unmount our external SSD and mount it to our Windows PC, to see if the data is readable on other PC

Close FreeFileSync and then Unmount ExternalSSD

I successfully mounted ext4 formatted external SSD on which are our data located, and we can see our folders from Steam Deck!!! Success

When you are done Unmount and Safely Remove your external SSD from Windows

Ok, this was a success, now to Network part

Backup/Sync to Network folder scenario

If we want to backup/synchronize to folder we shared on the network – situation will not be simple as it was with directly attached external SSD

If we just want to copy or transfer something one time – that is ok, and I covered that scenario in my Network Share Files guide

I tried to find a way to make this through GUI, to be simple tutorial – but I wasn’t able to find elegant and simple way. If somebody know simpler way and through GUI – please let me know.

Most tools that do this, like rsync are also completely terminal based, and I wanted to avoid that in basic guides for Steam Deck.

However, terminal cannot be avoided, even with FreeFileSync – although in Windows environment it works nice with network file shares, in Linux – you need to mount your Network File Share for sync to work.

Basically every external drive, USD, MicroSD or network file share needs to be mounted in Linux in order to work – that is how it works, it can be explained in details, but I will skip that now.

If you noticed in the part with external SSD we got through earlier – path to access files on external SSD is /run/media/deck/SteamDSSD (SteamDSSD being the name of external SSD)

MicroSD is accessed through /run/media/mmcblk0p1 (mmcblk0p1 being the designated name for the MicroSD)

In Windows MicroSD would be D:\ and externalSSD would be E:\

I was confused with this in my younger days when I started with Linux, because I was trying to apply Windows logic.

In short we need to translate our \\\DeckWinShare to mount point on Linux to be able to use it permanently and after every system reboot – we need to mount it.

For the last time here, check my How To Network Share folders on Steam Deck to see where I got these network addresses from, and what network setup looks like.

What we will do here is translate network share \\\DeckWinShare to local folder /run/media/winpcshare (we will now create winpcshare folder)

And that mount between network share and local folder will do everything for us permanently and will be mounted to our system same way the MicroSD is.

Ok, let’s open terminal – commands will be short and easy, I promise. I covered that process in more details here

How to Mount Network Drive to Steam Deck

Let’s now go command by command

This first command is optional – if you already have a password for your Steam Deck you don’t need this – if you don’t have password – you need to set it first


Command bellow will create directory winpcshare in /run/media directory

sudo mkdir /run/media/winpcshare

Following command will elevate our rights to root

sudo -s

This command will create file cifsauth in /etc folder and inside it it will write two lines – username and password

Be sure to change deckguy to the username of your Windows user that has access to file share you would like to mount

Under password change Pass123 to password of your Windows user that has access rights to the file share

These values are here only as example so you can see how it looks like.

sudo echo -e "username=deckguy\npassword=Pass123" > /etc/cifsauth

When the command is executed type exit to exit elevated root user


Now, we will set user rights for file cifsauth we created

sudo chmod 600 /etc/cifsauth

Next step will be to create our permanent mount point in fstab file – here we will point our network file share to local mount folder

sudo nano /etc/fstab

Go to the last line of the file and type in command from bellow (change IP to your IP, and folder names to your folders!!)

Change to your network IP address and your shared folder

if you created different mount point for your file share change also /run/media/winpcshare to your file path. If not you can leave it as is.

//       /run/media/winpcshare cifs uid=deck,iocharset=utf8,file_mode=0777,dir_mode=0777,noperm,credentials=/etc/cifsauth 0 0

After you are done with entering text press ctrl+x to save file, and confirm with y

ctrl+x to save

This command will now mount our created mount point

sudo mount -a

Optionally, you will maybe need to enter sudo systemctl daemon-reload command

Now, for a good measure – reboot your Steam Deck!!!

If you are interested in few more details – I wrote about Network Share mapping to Steam Deck here

Back to syncing files from our Steam Deck to our Windows File Share

Ok, you learnt how to add folders to FreeFileSync, we will create now new set of jobs – one is for. External SSD drive, other one will be for network share

In the FreeFileSync we will click on New, and entire fresh session will appear

Set filters for your new session

Again, on the left side local folder for Steam Deck – on the right side – folder from our Network File Share (Mounted)

Once again, local folder we want to sync to our share

/home/deck – we will be syncing it to /run/media/winpcshare/SDHome

/home/deck/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/compatdata we will be syncing to /run/media/winpcshare/SDCompatdata

/run/media/mmcblk0p1 we will be syncing to /run/media/winpcshare/SDMicroSD

I will just show here how to get file path for our mount point – click on mount point, open folder and copy path to it

This is how my job looks like

Let’s compare and sync

Again, same size and number of files

This will take a bit longer then it was with external SSD because network is slower with tiny files – my PC to which I’m testing this is on Wi-Fi and there is a lot os small files that are copying here now.

After some time it all will finish – this mainly is up to the type of files you are copying and quality of your local network / especially if you copy over wifi. My laptop was on wi-fi and steam deck on ethernet cable – result is 19 minutes 10 seconds (both Windows and Steam Deck has NVMe SSDs inside)

If we look at the Windows side, files are there, synced!!!

After this I was interested to see is it faster if both sides are on wired (ethernet) network, and not on Wi-Fi.

Ethernet was faster, but still slow… 14 minutes to copy – /home/deck folder has 60.000 files, and that is a lot of tiny files, and that means slower transfer rates.

Time to end this guide – we managed to sync our Steam Deck both through external SSD and through network – we were successful in all tests, and we now have a good options to sync/backup or transfer files to/from our Steam Deck.