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Animal Crossing: New Horizons' "Island Backup" feature detailed, restoration requires contacting Nintendo customer support

Plenty of hoops to jump through

Nintendo has finally shared full details on how Animal Crossing: New Horizons' Island Backup feature works. As you might have guessed, there's quite a few steps involved, and that includes some you might not have expected.

To kick things off, you'll have to talk to Tom Nook on the title screen, and then ask him to backup your data. Once connected to the internet, Nook says your save data will now be automatically backed up in the background when the game isn't being played. As for restoring your data, that is only allowed if your Switch has been lost, stolen, or damaged, and that you’ll have to contact Nintendo Customer Support in your region to enact the restoration.

As for actually moving ahead with the restoration, you'll have to hold the minus button after you see the black Nintendo screen when launching the game. This requires a fresh copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons running Version 1.4.0. You'll also need the same account as the one that enabled Island Backup, and that account will need to have Nintendo Switch Online. If all that is set up, all you have to do is search for the island, select the correct island, and it'll download.

Remember, Nintendo has said that a tool for transferring your island between Switch consoles is coming at some point later this year. This backup feature is something separate. You can get Nintendo's very wordy explanation of how this all works via the official FAQ info below.

What is island backup?

Island backup saves your island data and progress to our servers in the event you lose access to your Nintendo Switch system. If this happens, you can restore your island on a replacement Nintendo Switch system. Island backup is not enabled by default, so you will need to enable it in the in-game settings.

What do I need to enable island backup?

To enable island backup, you need a Nintendo Account that has an active Nintendo Switch Online membership and that has created a resident on the island. Only one island resident can enable island backup, but the island data and progress will be backed up for all players in the event in needs to be restored.

When do island backups happen?

After island backup is enabled, your island data is saved periodically when your Nintendo Switch system is connected to the internet and no one is playing the game on your system. The last time your island was backed up will be displayed in the bottom-left corner of the title screen.

How do I restore data from my island backup?

If you have replaced your Nintendo Switch system after it was lost or broken, you can restore you island data using the same Nintendo Account that enabled island backup.

How to Backup and Restore Island Save Data (Animal Crossing: New Horizons)

Important

Island backup is a feature exclusive to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. If you are looking to restore your save data for games compatible with the Nintendo Switch Online Save Data Cloud service, see our steps on How to Download Save Data Cloud Backups.

A Nintendo Switch Online membership is required in order to enable island backup data.

Note

Island backup and restore features are available after installing the latest game software version (1.4.0 or later).

When enabled, island backup data is stored periodically when no one is currently playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on your Nintendo Switch system and the system is connected to the internet.

What to do

Enable island backup

Open Animal Crossing: New Horizons and select a user with a compatible Nintendo Account.
In order to enable island backup:

Use a Nintendo Account with an active Nintendo Switch Online membership.

Use a Nintendo Account that has a resident on the island. Each user on a Nintendo Switch system can create a resident and move to the island soon after starting the game.

Your Nintendo Switch system must have a stable connection to the internet.

Your game must be updated to the latest software version (1.4.0 or later).

Island backup cannot already be enabled. If any other resident on the island has already enabled island back up, you will not be able to enable it as a different resident. The original resident can disable island backup if you wish to enable it using a different account.

From the title screen, press the – Button to access the Settings menu.

Select Enable island backup.

If island backup cannot be enabled, it may be because your Nintendo Switch is not currently connected to the internet or your Nintendo Account does not currently have an active Nintendo Switch Online membership.

After island backup is enabled, you can view the date and time of the last backup on the title screen of the game. A backup is made periodically whenever the game is not being played and the Nintendo Switch system is connected to the internet.

Restore island data

Important: Island data can only be restored if your Nintendo Switch system has been lost, stolen or damaged and you had enabled island backup in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on that system. It is not possible to remotely enable island backup without access to the system. You will also need a replacement system to restore the island data.

Was your system repaired by a Nintendo Service Center?

No

Recovery is only available in situations where a Nintendo Switch system is lost, stolen, or damaged. A new or repaired Nintendo Switch system is required. An active Nintendo Switch Online membership is also required. In the event of loss or damage, contact Nintendo Consumer Support, and a representative can help you restore the island and user save data on your new or repaired Nintendo Switch system (standard charges apply for non-warranty repairs). For all information on product(s) warranty please visit https://www.nintendo.com.au/warranty.

Yes

Important: If your system was repaired, your save data may already be on the system. Open Animal Crossing: New Horizons to determine if your island appears on the title screen. If so, no further action is necessary to return to your island.

If you have received your Nintendo Switch Console and your data is not on the system and the island backup was previously enabled, you can follow the below steps to restore your island data.

Select Animal Crossing: New Horizons and choose the user with the Nintendo Account that originally enabled island backup.
In order to restore island data:

Your Nintendo Switch system must have a stable connection to the internet.

Your game must be updated to the latest software version (1.4.0 or later).

As the game begins to open, you will see a black screen with the Nintendo logo in the top-left. Press and hold the – Button when this screen appears.

If performed correctly, a message will appear that asks if you want to check for island data to restore. Select Begin.
If you see Timmy and Tommy at the Nook Inc. reception desk, the button input failed. Close the game and reopen it to try again.

If you see a title screen with villagers walking around an island, then you may have already started a new island on your Nintendo Switch system. If you wish to replace this island with your island backup, you must first delete the save data for Animal Crossing: New Horizons from your system, then reopen the game and try again. Your new island will not be able to be recovered after you delete the save data.

Select Check to search for island data to restore.

If island data cannot be found, it may be because your Nintendo Switch is not currently connected to the internet or you are not using the same Nintendo Account that was used to enable island backup.

If you enabled island backup for multiple islands, you will be presented with each island name and some details. Select the island you wish to restore on your Nintendo Switch system, then select Recover Data.

Select Yes, please to confirm you are ready to restore the selected island backup.
If you started a new island on your Nintendo Switch, it will be lost and replaced with your island backup.

After your island is restored, the game will restart, and you will return to your island.

If your island is restored, you’re all set!

However if you are unable to restore your island after following these steps, please contact us for additional support.

Comments

Top Rated Comment

Who cares? It’s not like this is some competitive online game. I find their strong stance of ‘protecting AC at all costs’ to be pretty ridiculous. People already time travel to make all the money they need or use things like Nookazon to get any item they want.

What a completely asinine way of doing things.

ngamer01
Thu Jul 30 20 10:56am
Rating: 1 (Updated 2 times)

It's to prevent save scumming.

If players have the option without having to go through Tom Nook/Nintendo, they could reset out of any punishments, reset to get better RNG (like before you depart for mystery islands -- players could always reset to get the money making islands), and so on. The alternative is adopting AC: Pocket Camp's saving system where everything is coded to always happen on first boot up and can't be changed even on reset.

This would mean changing the game so that it requires ALWAYS ONLINE DRM though.

Who cares? It’s not like this is some competitive online game. I find their strong stance of ‘protecting AC at all costs’ to be pretty ridiculous. People already time travel to make all the money they need or use things like Nookazon to get any item they want.

Thu Jul 30 20 12:36pm
(Updated 1 time)

Like the other bloke said, this is Animal Crossing, a life/deco sim, not a competetive game in any aspect.

Plus with the 4 (or more) Duplication exploits that were and are being used continuously, who in their right mind would care about save scumming in a game like this?

Everyone gets rich stupid fast even without exploits, theres no ranking system to worry about, so I stand by what I said, this whole thing is asinine and downright incompetent.

So cloud save isn't enough to back up the saves and now you have to like actually be in a region where Nintendo focuses on...great.

They repeatedly say Recovery is only available in situations where a Nintendo Switch system is lost, stolen, or damaged.

So what about none of those but your save is corrupt, or the SD card is damaged or lost?

Only Nintendo could make a save backup and restore feature such a PITA in 2020.

justthetrick
Thu Jul 30 20 11:19am
Rating: 1

Your save is on the console NOT the SD card...

If your internal memory corrupts then thats a damaged system.

Please read the facts before getting mad.

Unless you're American and then everything is just fake news and everyone is a Karen.

Right my mistake. I forgot they disallowed saves on SD Cards.
Anyways...if the local save gets corrupt or deleted what’s the policy?

It’s still asinine that the simple, and built-in, save backup and restore feature isn’t used. Gotta protect all those precious bells I guess.

Not sure what kind of projection your last sentence is making but whatever...

Makes perfect sense to me to stop users from endlessly duplicating rare items (lets ignore the glitches for now) by using restore and that it is only there as an option for those that have had their system lost stolen or damaged.

I'm annoyed though that there was no process for system transfers at the beginning when I "upgraded" to the AC themed console and lost the first three days of progress.

They left out a couple steps that I wanted to inform you guys on. After you hold the minus button down you have to travel to Japan talk to Koizumi, Miyamoto, Yabuki, Sakurai, Sakamoto, Tanabe, Tezuka, Koji Kondo, Anouma, and Furukawa get all their autographs then fax /copy and e-mail them to NOA.

NOA will then invite you to their headquarters to collect autographs from Bill Trinen, Nate Bildorff, Doug Bowser, Audrey Drake, Michael Kelbaugh (of Retro Studios), and the rest of the treehouse localization team. Once you receive all of those you will be required to blood sign each piece of paper and then you will have to send those autographed papers to New Horizons's game director via USPS.

He will then send you a lock box with a 106 digit code to type in. He will only give you 85 of the numbers the rest you have to figure out with the page of riddles he requires you to solve. Once you solve the riddles and get the remaining 21 digits you can open the box. The box contains a golden usb drive. Plug the USB drive into your computer it will download a series of URL links. Click each link find encryption keys. Once you find the correct encryption key it will give you a 16 digit Nintendo eshop code. Type the code into the eshop and it will be your island for you to redownload.

I know this seems like a lot of unnecessary steps but you can never be too careful cause bell/furniture duplication is SERIOUS BUSINESS!

You left out the part where Mr Resetti comes out of retirement and gives you an hour long lecture on looking after your Switch better when you get back to your Island.

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