How to back up Steam Deck SSD?

Protect your Steam Deck data by cloning the internal SSD to an external drive. Follow easy steps, set up an admin password, and verify the backup.

By Abhishek Chandel
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Steam Deck

Steam Deck (Image via Valve)

Backing up important data is essential to ensure files and settings are preserved even if a drive failure or operating system crash occurs. This guide provides easy-to-follow steps to make a complete clone of your Steam Deck's internal SSD to an external drive for safekeeping.

By following these instructions, you will gain peace of mind knowing your most valuable data is securely replicated. Within a few short steps, your Steam Deck SSD contents will be perfectly duplicated bit-for-bit to the additional storage. Take a small amount of time to protect your files and settings through this simple backup method.


Before beginning, make sure you have acquired the following necessary components:

  • A brand new 2230-sized Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) solid-state drive (SSD), which is the type of flash storage drive this process will involve.

  • A case or enclosure engineered to be used specifically with 2230 form factor NVMe SSD modules, as this will provide an interface to connect the drive externally.

Step 1. Activate desktop interface mode

1. Press and hold the power button until an additional menu is displayed.

2. Select “Switch to Desktop” from this sub-menu.

(Image via Valve)

3. Allow time for the transition to take place as the system shifts over to desktop mode interface, which may require some moments to fully process.

Upon entering desktop mode, you will be presented with a more conventional desktop user interface that will enable navigation and allow you to carry out diverse functions as you would routinely accomplish on a standard desktop computer system.

Step 2. Configure an administrator password

Before proceeding with backing up your system, you must establish a password that will grant administrative privileges, allowing commands to be run with elevated permissions.

There are two options for setting this privileged password:

Graphical user interface (GUI) method:

  1. Access the application menu from the bottom left corner of the screen.

  2. Select the user avatar graphic.

  3. Choose "Change Password" from the right side menu.

Terminal method:

(Image via Valve)

1. Launch the Konsole terminal program.

2. Type "passwd" and press enter.

3. Follow the on-screen instructions to create a new password.

Here for security purposes, no visible feedback will be shown as you enter your password, not even asterisks.

Step 3. Determine the existing SSD's identifier

To get the specific label or identifier for your current internal SSD, let's go through these steps:

1. First, you need to open up the terminal emulator application called Konsole. This will allow us to enter commands to view system information.

2. Once Konsole is open, type in the command "sudo lsblk" and hit enter. This command lists out all the connected storage devices on the system.

3. It may ask for your administrative password from the previous step at this point. Go ahead and enter that password.

The command will catalogue every accessory storage medium currently connected to the system. Mentally note the particular label issued to your present NVMe unit, usually in a format similar to "nvme0n1".

Step 4. Attach the portable solid-state drive

After identifying the internal drive label, you need to prepare the external backup target.

1. Take your new 2230 NVMe solid-state drive and attach it to the enclosure made specifically for that size.

2. Once the SSD is securely in place, all that's left is connecting it to your Steam Deck. You can use the dock if you have one, otherwise, any open USB port on the Deck will work. Plug it in and it should mount right away.

Step 5. Duplicate the drive contents using the dd utility

This step will use a really powerful Linux tool called 'dd' to copy over the entire contents of the internal SSD to our new external backup drive.

Pull up the Konsole terminal again. Now type in the command:

sudo dd if=/dev/xxxx of=/dev/sda oflag=sync bs=128M status=progress

Remember that 'xxxx' label you noted earlier for the internal drive? Go ahead and substitute that in place of the xxxx.

This tells dd to copy data "from" that internal drive location "to" the external disk, which again is usually /dev/sda. It will sync the writes for reliability and show a progress status as it runs.

Hit enter to start! When it prompts for a password, enter your sudo password from before. This may take some time depending on how big your internal drive is.

Step 6) Validate the accuracy of the duplicate data

Once the full duplication operation has finished running its course, you may want to confirm the dependability of your now replicated drive contents. Utilize the diff command to compare the information housed in the two storage units:

sudo diff /dev/xxxx /dev/sda

Again replace xxxx with the actual designation of your initial internal SSD drive, and sda to represent the newly associated external SSD attachment. An output displaying no differences confirms the backup succeeded in correctly mirroring all data.

Once complete, verifying the backup through diff confirmation ensures an accurate, bootable clone exists. This duplicate SSD now holds the means to easily restore your Steam Deck system back to its current state should any problems arise with the internal drive in future.

Regularly repeating this operation helps safeguard against incremental data changes and updates over time too. Protecting precious data and safeguarding irreplaceable files provides tremendous peace of mind. Even novice users can feel confident maintaining full backups of their system through these accessible, effective techniques.

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