Screenshot backups

I take a *lot* of screenshots when gaming, writing this blog gives me an excuse for doing so but I would probably anyway. For several years now I’ve been conscious of the need to take more regular backups of all these images, and it occurred to me only three or so months ago that I could do what any IT professional should do – write a script to automate it.

Folders of screenshots on external HDD

For a few years now I’ve manually drag copied all the newer screenshots onto folders on an external hard drive that I only connect for these backups. I was using the simple but manual eyeballing method of checking the most recent file in each backup folder, and then finding all the newer images in the game’s screenshot folder on my computer’s SSD to copy across. It didn’t take that long to do, but I had to intervene to start each game’s copy process. It was also easy to lose track of which games I had or had not copied.

Then I was inspired to write a simple batch file using the XCOPY command (command reference) to copy any new items from each folder methodically. I use the ‘/d’ and ‘/i’ switches to copy newer items and to avoid prompts to create any new sub-directories. I imagine there would be an equivalent command if you game on a Mac. My current script is:

xcopy “C:\Users\XXX\Documents\Dungeons and Dragons Online\*.jpg” D:\Screenshot_archive\DDO\ /i /d
xcopy “C:\Users\XXX\Documents\The Lord of the Rings Online\*.jpg” D:\Screenshot_archive\LOTRO\ /i /d
xcopy “C:\Users\XXX\Documents\Star Wars – The Old Republic\Screenshots\*.jpg” D:\Screenshot_archive\SWTOR\ /i /d
xcopy “C:\Users\XXX\Documents\Elder Scrolls Online\live\Screenshots\*.jpg” D:\Screenshot_archive\ESO\ /i /d
xcopy “C:\Games\EverQuest II Extended\Screenshots\*.jpg” D:\Screenshot_archive\EQ2\screenshots\ /i /d
xcopy “C:\Users\XXX\Documents\Guild Wars 2\Screens\*.jpg” D:\Screenshot_archive\GW2\Screens\ /i /d
xcopy “C:\Games\World of Warcraft\_retail_\Screenshots\*.jpg” D:\Screenshot_archive\WoW\Screenshots\ /i /d
xcopy “C:\Games\Perfect World Entertainment\Neverwinter_en\Neverwinter\Live\screenshots\*.*” d:\screenshot_archive\neverwinter\ /i /d

I class DDO, LOTRO, GW2, SWTOR and ESO as well designed games in that they store their screenshots, by default, in the user profile. You would need to replace the ‘XXX’ with your profile name. The poorly designed games, from an IT sys admin perspective, are the games that keep user files (screenshots) in the program folder – EQ2, WoW and Neverwinter. If you have several people playing games on one computer, even in separate profiles, you’d end up with a horrible mish-mash of screenshots from different characters all in the same folder. That’s one mess I’m glad I don’t have to organise!

In any case, all the paths above are for my game installs on my PC, so the file paths for both the source and destination would need rewriting for your setup. Using the script is super easy. I plug in the external drive, and once it has appeared in Explorer, I can double click the script and wait for the black command prompt window to reach the ‘pause’ prompt. I put that in so I know it has completed *and* can just quickly check there were no error messages. By default the command window would vanish when the script completed, meaning any feedback would be lost.

So, that’s my simple backup script for screenshots. It’s a bit ‘old-school’ compared to the more prevalent method of using a cloud backup client to sync everything to Google, Microsoft or some other cloud storage provider. I do keep my best screenshots in the cloud, they’re on this blog after all. Otherwise, I’m not mindful to pay for increased storage on any of the freebie cloud storage accounts I have and this archive is too large to fit in a free account. The key point for me in favour of this solution is its simplicity. Do you use anything like this? How do you backup your screenshots?


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3 Responses to Screenshot backups

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I very strongly prefer games that keep the screenshots in the game folder. It’s the first place I always look and it always annoys me if they aren’t there. Sadly, most of them aren’t these days. On the logic of it being confusing if several people are using the same PC – do people really still do that? That seems so 90s, like connecting to the internet by dial-up.

    I’m very haphazard in backing screenshots up. I have three internal HDDs and a lot of my screens are on all three of them. I also have a lot backed up on a thumb drive and of course all the screenshots from the blog are in the cloud somewhere courtesy of Google. I do increasingly wonder what the point is, though. The chances of me ever looking at most of them again are infinitesemal. Even when I’m writing a blog post that calls for historical illustrations I tend to just google it and use someone else’s because it’s so much quicker.

    When I think about the screenshots I’ve lost (I can’t find anything before about 2006) it’s mildly annoying but it gets less so every time I think about it. Like all the vast piles of books and records and comics in my house I’m starting to think I wouldn’t really notice if they weren’t there. And that probably goes tenfold for screenshots that don’t take up any real space.

  2. JW says:

    I really love that you are doing this. I regret not having all my screenshots form old games that I played!

  3. Shintar says:

    How do you backup your screenshots?

    Not often enough is the answer to that! I still use an external hard drive when I do remember every other year or so. Maybe I should start thinking about some sort of cloud-based solution too.

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