Animal Crossing cloud saves: Island backup, auto saving and save transfers in New Horizons explained

Look after your save data or Mr. Resetti will find you.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is introducing a range of new features to the Animal Crossing series, including cloud saving.

No longer will you have to worry about losing a rare fish or piece of furniture to a power outage - or your entire island due to loss, theft or console failure.

Aside from cloud saves, this guide will also cover autosaving, manual saving and the topic of save transfers for New Horizons.

On this page:

How to set up cloud saving and island recovery in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons added a cloud saving and island recovery option as part of a July 2020 update.

This allows you to upload your island and save data to the internet at certain times, so you can later recover your progress in case your Switch console fails, is lost or stolen. (Since you might have put in hundreds of hours of work into your game, it's wise to have it enabled!)


Backing up an island

To get it set up, first you need to make sure you have a Nintendo Switch Online account.

From there you must boot up New Horizons and, when you're on the title screen, press the '-' button (minus button) to open the Settings menu.

Next, you'll want to select the 'Island backup' option, followed by 'Enable island backup.'


With the island backup option enabled, your New Horizons island will be periodically backed up when you're not playing the game and your Nintendo Switch is connected to the Internet. The time and date of your last backup will be displayed in the bottom left-hand corner of the title screen.

You can disable the 'Island backup' at any time by returning to the Settings menu for New Horizons and selecting the option, 'Disable island backup,' followed by 'Yes, disable backup' to confirm your decision.

Island Recovery

Restoring your island data depends on whether this lost has been caused by a theft or damage to your Nintendo Switch console.

If your console has been stolen, then you need to contact the Nintendo Customer Support for your country.

If your Nintendo Switch has been repaired, then you need to boot up New Horizons as the player who enabled the 'Island backup.'

Once New Horizons has loaded, check to see if the island being displayed on the title screen is your island. If it is, then you have nothing to worry about and continue playing New Horizons.

You must also ensure that you haven't started a new island on that console, otherwise you'll have to delete the new Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data on your console to recover your old island.

If you can't see your island, then you need to press and hold the '-' button (minus button) and, if you've done it correctly, a screen will appear asking if you want to check for island data to restore.

Ensure that you're connected to the Internet, before selecting 'Check' and you should be presented with a your island backup, which you can select for restoration. If you've backed up multiple islands under this user account, then you need to ensure that you select the right one.

The game will restart once the island has been restored and you'll be able to continue playing New Horizons.

Note this is different to the Save Data support as part of your Nintendo Switch Online membership - this is mostly likely due to the restriction of one island per Nintendo Switch. This means you have to enable this functionality in-game through the above steps rather than at a system level.

Autosaving and manual saving in Animal Crossing: New Horizons explained

Mr Resetti himself.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the first game in the series to introduce autosaving.

This means that at anytime during your island adventures, you'll be able to turn off your Nintendo Switch without the worry of loosing any of your progress.

Autosaves seem to happen at regular (or random) intervals, with a swirling icon in the corner indicating it's just happened. You can't turn this feature off - meaning it'll keep ticking away as you play.

Either way, when you are done with a session, press the minus button to Save and Exit the game, ensuring your hard work will be kept for the next time you play.

How many islands can you save in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you're restricted to one island per console, which means that everyone who uses your Nintendo Switch will share the same island.

Since the maximum amount of users a Nintendo Switch can have is eight, this also means that there can be a total of eight human residents on an island in New Horizons.

If you want to start your New Horizons adventure afresh, you'll have to delete the save data from your Nintendo Switch. This should allow you to create a whole new island, but this will come at the cost of losing your original isle.

New to Animal Crossing? Our Animal Crossing New Horizons tips can help with the basics. From the off, there's fish and bugs to catch, flowers and fruit to grow with Leif selling seeds, villagers to add or remove and tools such as the new ladder and vaulting pole to collect. Once you have settled in, you'll want to be making as many Bells as possible, start collecting K.K. Slider songs and work on your island star rating, increase your HHA ranking, incorporate Feng Shui into your room design and acquiring kitchen furniture. You can also buy fake art from Redd. Recently added were Dream Suite and island backup.

Transferring save data for Animal Crossing: New Horizons explained

According to the Animal Crossing: New Horizons page on the Nintendo UK website, the game will not initially allow you to transfer your save file from one Nintendo Switch to another.

It continues to say, however, that 'a function specific to Animal Crossing: New Horizons to move users and save data to another console is planned for later this year.


We'll make sure to update this section when details about this function is released later in the year!

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About the author

Lottie Lynn

Lottie Lynn

Guides Writer

Lottie Lynn is Eurogamer's guides writer. She likes exploring new games and still has nightmares about the moon from Majora's Mask.


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