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You Can Now Back Up in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nintendo have always been behind the pack when it comes to online functionality in general. The same is true of their save systems, which have notoriously been local only and not cloud. When you consider that consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One, along with PC platforms like Steam and GOG, have had cloud backups for many years, it’s baffling as to why Nintendo refuse to provide this common feature for all of their games.

Until now, perhaps, as things are slowly changing thanks to a recent update to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which has been one of the biggest selling games for the Nintendo Switch. The recent 1.4.0 update to the game adds a number of new features, like a fireworks festival, the ability to fall over, and save backups.

Except, in traditional Nintendo fashion, those save backups don’t quite function how you might expect. Here’s everything you need to know about backing up in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

First, you need to make sure that your game is running the latest 1.4.0 update (or higher). The version number is displayed on the game’s title page, but the game should automatically update if you’re connected to the internet anyway.

You also need to have an active Nintendo Switch Online membership. This costs $4 for one month, $8 for three months, and $20 for a year.

Only one resident on the island can have backups enabled, so if multiple people use the same Switch to play the game then you’ll need to decide who the primary user is and thus who the backups run for.

To enable the feature, on the game’s title screen press the minus button to enter Settings. Here, select Island backup, then Enable island backup. If this option is unavailable, it either means you don’t have a Nintendo Switch Online membership, or the console isn’t connected to the internet.

Once the backup is enabled, you can view the date and time of the last backup on the title screen. The backup runs automatically periodically, when the game isn’t being played and when the console is connected to the internet.

Here’s the catch: these backups are only for restoring data when your console has been lost or damaged. That’s because only Nintendo support can restore the data.

If your Switch was repaired by Nintendo’s official Service Centre, the data should automatically be restored. However, it might not be. If so, when the game launches and you see a black screen with the Nintendo logo, hold the minus button. You can then check for data to be restored.

If your console wasn’t repaired by Nintendo themselves, you should contact their customer support team who can guide you through the process.

While this is all a step in the right direction, the cloud backup process still isn’t where it needs to be. We should be able to transfer our saves between systems, without Nintendo’s involvement. Happily, Nintendo have said they are working on this for a future update, but they haven’t provided a release date for that.


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