Why should I make a backup?
Because backing up is good, mkay.
If you don't mind having to start all over as if you just bought the game then don't bother with backups. Otherwise you should make a backup before uninstalling the game, installing a new EP, installing updates... well, regularly.
If your game crashes and needs to be reinstalled or your computer dies, you will be happy you did.
Backing up your game data not only preserves your saved games but also the changes you've made to the settings in Options and the downloads you've installed, including Riverview.What should I back up?
Everything you need to back up is in the Sims 3 folder in your Documents folder. It contains your saved games, screenshots, downloads and more. Everything that didn't come with the game when you bought it basically.
You find it here:
Windows 7 and Vista: C:\Users\"Username"\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\"Username"\My Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3
(If you're on a Mac the data will also be in a Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3 folder somewhere; I'm sure you know where your documents are. This concludes my knowledge of Macs.)
Even if you've installed the game on a different partition this folder will still be placed on the C-drive; at least it was for me.
DO NOT back up the Sims 3 folder in Program Files. I only mention this because when I googled this subject to see what was out there already, I found several tutorials on how to back up from Program Files as if this is a good thing to do. Well, I don't think the people who tell you to do this actually tried using this "backup" themselves. It takes up a mad amount of space and is useless.How do I back up?
Making a backup essentially means making a copy. So open up your Documents, open "Electronic Arts", right-click the "Sims 3" folder and choose Copy. Go to where you want to place the backup, right-click and choose Paste.Where should I place the backup?
You could just put it on the desktop, somewhere in Documents, anywhere you like, but I recommend placing it somewhere other than your hard drive. Either an external hard disk, USB flash drive or even burn it to a CD or DVD.
That way if your computer should crash and die, well, you won't have a working computer but you will still have your Sims. You can install The Sims 3 on a different computer, restore your game data from the backup and start playing right where you left off; well, from the time you made the backup anyway.Automating the backup.
There are many programs which will handle the backup process for you. I've been using SyncToy; it's a free program from Microsoft. It makes backing up as simple as pressing a button and you can set up a schedule to have the backup run automatically, say once a day or once a week.
Get it here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c26efa36-98e0-4ee9-a7c5-98d0592d8c52&DisplayLang=en
The one with a "x64" in the file name is for 64-bit versions of Windows, x86 is for 32-bit versions. If you don't know which you have it's probably 32-bit. If you want to make sure, right-click on Computer or My Computer and choose Properties, you should find it there.
There are lots of tutorials on how to use SyncToy, just ask Google. Here's a couple:http://www.pchell.com/support/synctoy.shtmlhttp://www.solo-technology.com/blog/2006/09/20/how-to-using-synctoy-to-make-a-nightly-mirror-of-my-documents/
And while you're at it; Get an external hard disk if you don't have one already and don't just make a backup of your Sims 3 folder but do the entire Documents folder as well. You know you should.Restoring your game data.
If things go completely wrong, uninstall the game and reinstall from the game disk. Then copy the backup you made and paste it back in the Documents/Electronic Arts folder where you originally got it from, so it replaces the new Sims 3 folder.
Now when you run the game it should be exactly the same as it was when you made the last backup.