Steam Cloud saves don’t work for non-Steam games, but there is a way to save your cloud. This is how it is.
Steam Cloud is one of the biggest features of PC gaming and Steam; you no longer have to think about transferring files from your PC to your Steam Deck, for example. The truth is, there are many popular PC games that are not on Steam and do not enjoy the synchronization of Steam Cloud files, such as emulators of old console games, and it is a shame since emulation is great on the Steam. However, you can create your own version of the cloud saver on your PC with Deck, here’s how.
How to install SyncThing and use it to sync folders
SyncThing is a free tool that allows you to sync content in folders, such as Steam Cloud. By default, it only works on the same network and not on the Internet, so technically this is not a cloud solution, but you can set up your own server to create your own cloud. For this guide, we’ll just create a local solution, which means that backups won’t be connected if one of your devices leaves your Wi-Fi/Ethernet network.
Setting up SyncThing
First, we need to get SyncThing working between your PC and your Deck (or other device).
- Click the Steam button on the Steam.
- Go to Power and select Desktop Mode.
- Launch the Discover app.
- Search for SyncThing and click install.
- Start SyncThing and proceed through the installation wizard by clicking Next.
- On your PC, download SyncThing to your operating system.
- Open syncthing.exe. A tab in your browser for the SyncThing app should appear. After you get the Windows Firewall output, enable SyncThing to run on private networks.
- On your Steam Deck, open the hamburger menu on the top right and click Show ID.
- Then on your PC, click Add Remote Device in your browser, and you should see that you can connect to the ID associated with your Steam Deck. If SyncThing won’t let you connect to your Deck, just type its ID in the Device ID field.
- On your Deck, you should quickly see in SyncThing that your computer wants to connect. Click Add and before you click Save, click Share Folders.
- On your PC, you will also see a prompt to accept the shared folder. Accept it.
And that’s the initial setup. By default, you have a shared folder between the two devices that you can use for all kinds of things, but we want to sync files automatically rather than manually.
Using SyncThing to sync save files in non-Steam games
In this section, we will sync the game save game folders on PC and Deck. Of course, you have to do this for every game you want to sync, and the location of these folders will differ not only between games but also between devices. You’ll have to figure out where these folders are yourself, but once you do, this part is pretty easy.
- Click Add Folder in the browser program on your PC.
- You need to specify your directory, and then find the directory path to where your backup files are. This is different for every game, but this example is using Minecraft.
- Next, click the Sharing tab at the top of the screen and click the box next to steamdeck or whatever you named your Deck.
- You should also enable version control in the File Versioning section. Choose Simple File Format, which allows you to edit any errors in the cloud.
- Then click Save.
- On your Deck, SyncThing should prompt you to Add your new synced folder, which you should.
- This time, you need to provide the path to your game file on your Deck. It will be different from what is on your PC, make sure you get it. You can browse to it or copy where the folder is and paste.
- Make sure the Send Folder Only and Folder Only checkboxes are checked unexamined. Click Save.
- Your backup files should be linked in this folder, as you can see here. This Minecraft world was created on my Deck but is now on my PC.
Although SyncThing will work with cloud storage, you’ll want to be careful because these games aren’t built with cloud storage in mind. While editing the files, you should be fine if an error occurs. Just make sure when playing a game on one device to make sure it loads the file before playing the same game on another device.
Link non-Steam files to your Steam Deck: Final thoughts
It’s a shame you need a third-party tool to access cloud saves that work for non-Steam games, but it makes sense why Valve wouldn’t want to store files for games they don’t sell. And technically, this won’t be cloud storage because you have to set up your own server to work online, but your solution should be good, especially since it’s free.
Now that you have game storage synced between your PC and your Deck, you may want to consider installing more games, which means you may need additional storage for your Deck. I recommend upgrading the SSD in your Steam Deck to a 1TB version, or getting a Micro SD card, to get more game storage. You may also want to consider getting an add-on to upgrade your Steam Deck experience if the original PC mobile product isn’t enough for you.