How many save files do you keep per game?
When a game allows you to keep separate save files, how many are enough? Do you keep as many profiles as you’re allowed, just in case you ever want to fix a mistake you didn’t even realize in the first act? Are you backing up to the same file every time for the sake of simplicity and to hell with the consequences? Do you rely solely on autosave as some sort of maniac?
How many save files do you keep per game?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Sarah James, Guides Writer: Three, going through them every time I save. Sometimes, though, I really like to push the boat out and add a fourth slot, especially if I feel like I’m about to do something risky that I might regret. I think this is due to accidentally overwriting a save file years ago, making a mistake and not being able to go back. Whatever the reason, it’s become a habit I can’t break.
Lauren Aitken, Associate Guides Editor: I keep two “big” saves, a quick save and an auto save. Too many times I’ve been the victim of an automatic save, a bit like writing in the CMS.
Robin Valentine, editor-in-chief: I will take as many backup files as possible, going through them for maximum security. I’ve played enough sprawling RPGs with tough choices and game-breaking bugs to know that you never know when you’ll want to return to a specific location one hour, two hours, five hours, whatever. I’ll take 100 save slots if you have any. I’ve never really understood why most games are so stingy with them – they barely take up space and it’s not really hard to fit a dropdown into a UI.
I never trust an autosave if I can avoid it – I’ve been stung too many times. Even if it’s just flashing the icon, I’ll still do a manual or quicksave before anything important.
Imogen Mellor, Feature Film Producer: It mostly depends on the game, but I like to go with a two minimum rule. One for the BIG backup, then another for the small one. The first is for when I put the game away for the evening or finish big story chunks. The second save file is for small chunks that I wouldn’t want to have to go through again. I get that it seems quite arbitrary when you can have more than two saves, but hey, it hasn’t failed me yet.
In the rare event that I use more than two, I will do my best and use all available slots except one. This one is for emergencies. No, I don’t know what emergencies might require an empty save slot, but that sounds like the sensible, mature thing to do to the 10-year-old in my brain.
Mollie Taylor, News Writer: I’m the dirty one-slot saver. I’ve spent all these years saving my great JRPG adventures with hundreds of hours in a single save without any consequences. I didn’t learn any lessons here, so I won’t change. People who need multiple save slots are cowards!
Christopher Livingston, Feature Film Producer: If a game gives me a thousand save slots, I’ll end up using them all. I’d prefer two thousand, though, because when I save and then quit, and the game asks me if I’m sure I want to quit because any unsaved progress will be lost, I save again. Just to be sure. And always in a new niche.
I’m mostly talking about games like Skyrim, partly because I use mods and it’s a bit risky to use only one save slot because something could very easily get broken. I also test a lot of mods, which means it’s helpful to have a bunch of clean saves that I can try them out in without worrying about mod conflicts in other saves. But above all, why not use a bunch of save slots? There’s no advantage to limiting myself to one save, and plenty of advantages to having several, even if I never touch them.
Jacob Ridley, Senior Materials Writer: The cascaded backup file strategy for me, starting at the top and using them all in descending order until I was exhausted. Although it works best when backup files automatically rearrange themselves based on their recent date, that way you don’t have to remember where you are every time. If it’s manual save slots, it can get a bit awkward, although I’ll never like those savers. Really disgusting behavior.
Phil Savage, Editor, UK: Yes, like all people with a sensible approach to risk management, I will use a new niche every time I save. We’re no longer in the age of the PS2, trying to squeeze as much space out of an 8MB plastic card as possible. Hard drives are big, save files are small, why not you? What possible thrill do you get from the vague possibility of having to play hundreds of hours of an RPG again?
Molli Taylor: I need something to feel alive, Phil.
Brian Boru: When it comes to a free backup system, I usually keep 3 backups, with filenames a, b, c. ‘a’ is usually the starting situation in case I want to start over, while ‘b’ and ‘c’ are alternate saves later in the game, usually when I leave that session. If a game has autosaves and/or quicksaves, I leave them on too, as it can’t hurt.
If it’s a stupid console port with only one hidden save slot, say Ghost Recon Wildlands, then I play until the arrogance of the devs annoys me in another way, and I stop playing.
Pifanjr: It mainly depends on which is faster: overwrite the last backup or create a new one. Some games automatically fill in the name of a new save, while others automatically select your last save to overwrite. In the first case, I probably have a hundred backups until I manage to delete some of them, which can only happen when my drive is too full. In the latter case, I will probably have 3: a main one, a secondary one that I made before a big decision and a third when there was another big decision but I didn’t feel comfortable taking it. crush the other except for that again.
DXCHASE: I create a new save every time because I’m evil.
major : I have to admit I’m an obsessive-compulsive game saver, a bastard to some, or maybe I’m just evil like DXCHASE. But my backup strategy varies depending on the game I’m playing.
In games I mod heavily, like Skyrim or Fallout 4 I do hard saves at least every hour before and after major events or fights and absolutely turn off all autosave options because I’ve had more game freezes or CTDs from this feature than anything else. I will sometimes use quicksaves, but I don’t really rely on them. I also back up my save files to a separate storage drive by moving old saves and keeping my current save folder small, as save file sizes tend to swell as you progress through the game , this record taking multiple gigs if I’m not careful. Also, I never, ever overwrite hard saves, because I’ve read too much about overwriting corrupted saves.
For other games that I don’t mod, I’m not as picky and will use all save options, although I still do hard saves frequently and save those save files to a separate drive as well. But I appreciate when a game has multiple save slots. The exception to this are ARPGs like Diablo 2 or Grim Dawn, where you get a “save on exit” save slot. I can live with that for these types of games, but I absolutely hate games that use a “checkpoint saving” system.
Sarafan: My approach was different in the past. During the first few years of gaming, I usually used one or two save files. I wasn’t even a fan of quick saves. Relied mainly on textbooks. This changed over time. At first I increased the number of save files to four or five and eventually got to a point where I am today. Right now, I rarely overwrite backups. I just decide to create new files almost every time I save manually, and what’s more, I’m a fast save freak.
As for the reasons for the change… I don’t know! It just happened! I rarely load anything older than the two most recent save files, so I really don’t need that many saves. It has become my habit to create them however. The problem is, there’s no room in the cloud for the big guys. So, unfortunately, I have to delete old saves in these cases…
Wooden saucer: I do what requires the least effort. If the game automatically puts me on a new save and I have to scroll up to access a previous save, I won’t scroll up. I’ll just keep saving new saves. If it automatically puts me on the last save, I’ll save over it and only have one save for the whole game. I was sorry several times, but I never changed my ways. It’s just what takes the least effort.
I will say that I save my game quite frequently, though.
Alma: I used to keep creating new saves, but I normally keep it at 3 these days. 1 for the last checkpoint that I save to quite often and 2 previous to the last 2 hectic moments. If I get to a story change, I’ll switch to overwriting the oldest save.
Zloth: It’s hard to say a number, but I keep saves pretty much to the point where, if I have to go back any further, I’ll stop playing altogether. If a game looks particularly nice, I may keep more saves so I can go back and take more screenshots later, but that’s pretty rare.
ZedClampet: I will usually keep 3 backups. One is called “Temp”, and I’m saving on it. The other two saves are for when something big has happened or I’m about to go offline. These are simply called One and Two. For example, in Xcom I can save one or two before a mission. During the mission, if I choose to save, I will do so in Temp. When the mission is complete, I either save to One or Two, depending on which has the oldest data.