Sometimes you may want to take a manual backup of your ARK server on top of ARKs existing automatic backups for peace of mind. This is a relatively simple process once you understand where the files are stored and what files are the live versions of your ARK save and playerdata vs what files are the backups generated by ARK.
Locating the save folder
ARK stores it's live save data and it's automatically generated backups under the
/ShooterGame/Saved/SavedArks folder. The ARK save itself, essentially the world folder, is saved under the name of the map you're playing on, for example
TheIsland.ark. Player data is stored in files that are named after the player's Steam Account ID with the extension
.arkprofile. Tribe data is labeled with the Tribe ID and has the extension
If your server has crossplay enabled and you're looking for the data file for an Epic Games Store player, then you're in for a ride. It's not clear what system is used to generate their IDs, but you can find them only if the player is online using the
showmyadminmanager cheat or by listing the users currently online by using the
Backing up the files
You can select the files you want to backup by selecting them with the check marks on the right side of the file manager. Then you can click
Compress at the bottom of the file manager. We have more information how how archiving works on our article about creating a manual backup using the Game Control Panel.
The ARK save folder also includes the backups that ARK generates, these will have either the extension
.ark with a timestamp in the file name, the extension
.tribebak, or the extension
.profilebak. So you may want to exclude those files from your manual backup.
The ARK server software takes automatic backups that can be restored to in case of corruption or unintentional disaster. These backups are stored in the same location as the live save data,
/ShooterGame/Saved/SavedArks, and can be restored simply by stopping the server and renaming the backup that's needed. We're going to go over exactly when the backups are taken and how you can figure out which backup best fits your needs.
What's backed up and when
ARK stores it's world and player data separately, and as such the data is backed up at separate times and in separate files. You'll find player data is stored under each player's UE4 ID with a file extension of
.arkprofile, the world data is stored under the file name of the map you're playing in with the file extension of
.ark, and finally the tribe data is stored under the file extension
.arktribe with the file name of the tribe ID.
Player data is backed up every time the player logs in and only the most recent backup is kept. You'll find the backup of a player's data under their UE4 ID with the file extension
Tribe data is backed up under the tribe ID and the
.tribebak file extension and is backed up on server start as well as when a tribe member joins. Only the most recent backup of the tribe data is kept.
The world data is backed up frequently and in a couple of different ways.
There is a backup taken every time the server starts suffixed
_AntiCorruptionBackup.bak. There is only one
_AntiCorruptionBackup.bak file kept.
There is also a periodic backup taken every 3 hours while the server is running, with each backup taken timestamped with the time and date the backup was taken and using the same file extension as the live save,
.ark. Multiple periodic backups are kept, with the exact limit being unclear.
Restoring to an automatic backup
You can restore a file to a backup that was taken automatically by renaming the backup file to the file name of the live data file. For example, the file name of the live save file when playing on The Island map would be
TheIsland.ark and a backup of that save file would be
TheIsland_AntiCorruptionBackup.bak. All I'd have to do to restore to that backup would be to stop the server, rename the existing live file to something else, say
TheIsland.ark.old, and then rename
TheIsland.ark and start the server.