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Steam Cloud is one of the greatest things about PC gaming with Steam; you hardly even need to think about transferring files from your PC to your Steam Deck, for instance. The thing is, there are lots of popular PC games that aren't on Steam and don't get to enjoy Steam Cloud file syncing, like emulators for old console games, and that's a shame since emulation is great on the Deck. However, you can make your own sort of cloud saving system for your PC and Deck, and here's how.

How to install SyncThing and use it to sync folders

SyncThing is a free tool that allows you to sync the contents of a folder, just like Steam Cloud. By default, it only works over the same network and not over the internet, so technically this isn't a cloud solution, but you can set up your own server to make your own cloud. For this guide though, we're just going to do a local solution, which means saves will not be synced 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).

  1. Press the Steam button on the Deck.
  2. Go down to Power and select Desktop Mode.
  3. Launch the Discover app.
  4. Search for SyncThing and click install.
  5. Launch SyncThing and proceed through the installation wizard by clicking Next.
  6. On your PC, download SyncThing for your operating system.
  7. Launch syncthing.exe. A tab in your web browser for the SyncThing app should pop up. If you get a popup about Windows Firewall, enable SyncThing to work on private networks.
    SyncThing web browser app.
  8. On your Steam Deck, open the hamburger drop down menu in the top right and click Show ID.
  9. Then on your PC, click Add Remote Device in the browser app, and you should see that you can connect to the ID associated with your Steam Deck. If SyncThing doesn't allow you to automatically connect to your Deck, just type in its ID in the Device ID field.
    SyncThing add device.
  10. On your Deck, you should see a prompt in SyncThing that your desktop wants to connect. Click Add and before clicking Save, click Share Folders.
  11. On your PC, you will also see a prompt to accept folder sharing. Accept it.
    SyncThing folder sharing.

And that's the basic setup. By default, you have a folder shared between the two devices you can use for generic stuff, but we want automatic game save file syncing and not some manual solution.

Using SyncThing to sync save files in non-Steam games

For this part, we're going to sync the game save folders of a game on a PC and the Deck. Of course, you'll have to do this process for every game you want to sync up, and the locations of these folders will differ not just between games but between the devices too. You'll have to figure out where these folders are located yourself, but once you do, this part is very easy.

  1. Click Add Folder in the web browser app on your PC.
  2. You need to name your folder, and then find the folder path for where your game's save files are. This is different for each game, but for this example I'm using Minecraft.
    SyncThing add new folder.
  3. Next, click on the Sharing tab at the top of the window and click the box next to steamdeck or whatever you named your Deck to.
  4. You should also enable version control in the File Versioning tab. Choose Simple File Versioning, which will allow you to undo any cloud save mistakes.
  5. Then click Save.
  6. On your Deck, SyncThing should prompt you to Add your new synced folder, which you should.
  7. This time, you'll need to provide the file path for your game on your Deck. It's going to be different than what it is on your PC, so make sure you've found it. You can either browse to it or copy the folder's location and paste it.
  8. Make sure the boxes for Send Only Folder and Receive Only Folder are not checked. Click Save.
  9. Your save files should now be synced in this folder, as you can see here. This Minecraft world was actually made on my Deck but is now on my PC.
    SyncThing Minecraft saves synced.

While SyncThing will work for cloud saves, you will definitely want to be careful as these kinds of games were not built with cloud saves in mind. With file versioning though, you should be fine if a mistake happens. Just be sure that when you play a game on one device that you make sure it uploads the file before playing the same game on the other device.

Sync non-Steam save files with your Steam Deck: Final thoughts

It's kind of a shame that you need a third party tool to get cloud saves working for non-Steam games, but it's understandable why Valve wouldn't want to store game files for games they don't sell. And technically, these aren't even cloud saves since you need to setup your own server to get it working over the internet, but a local solution should be good enough, especially since it's free.

Now that you have game save syncing set up between your PC and your Deck, you might consider installing more games, which means you might want some more storage for your Deck. I highly recommend upgrading the SSD in your Steam Deck to a 1TB model, or getting a micro SD card, in order to get more storage for games. You might also consider getting some other accessories to enhance your Steam Deck experience if the basic handheld PC thing isn't enough for you.