Restoring Island Cloud Save Backups Requires Contacting Nintendo Support (Animal Crossing: New Horizons)

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The ability to backup and restore your Animal Crossing: New Horizons island has been long awaited, and we finally have some new details on how the Island Backup & Restoration Service will work!

Going all the way back to the first reveal of Animal Crossing: New Horizons at E3 2019, the topic of cloud save backups have been a contentious issue with many fans disappointed in Nintendo’s seeming disinterest in the feature.

Originally, we were told that there would be no form of Cloud Save Backup for Animal Crossing: New Horizons at all, but that later turned into an announcement of a “customized method for backing save data up” that isn’t technically the same as the standard Save Data Cloud Backup feature most other Nintendo Switch games use.

At one point, it was even announced in the Animal Crossing Direct in February that there would be a hard set limit of one save recover ever on the feature, but Nintendo re-uploaded the presentation to remove that disclaimer about a day later.

Now that the feature is finally releasing on July 30th in Summer Update Wave Two as the Island Backup & Restoration Service, we have some fresh new details on exactly how the process of restoring your precious Animal Crossing: New Horizons island from Nintendo’s servers will work.

Details were pretty light in the official trailer video with viewers directed to visit Nintendo’s support website, which doesn’t offer any information yet until the update releases. However, both the press release from Nintendo of America and the Japanese announcement were happy to give us the information we’re looking for.

Before we get to the matter of restoring, let’s go over exactly how our islands will be backed up. First, you’ll need to have a Nintendo Switch Online membership. That’ll allow you to enable the new backup service, which will then automatically upload your island and user save data to Nintendo servers “at certain times”.

That sounds like there won’t actually be any sort of backup button anywhere to manually trigger a save upload to the internet. So hopefully this automatic uploading is frequent enough to keep everyone happy!

As for recovering your island from the server backup, let’s get the most important detail out of the way. Nintendo of America’s press release clearly states that “in the event of loss or damage, contact Nintendo Consumer Support about restoring the island and user save data on your new or repaired Nintendo Switch system.”

Yes, that’s right, you’ll need to contact Nintendo Support to get your island back! That’s definitely an unusual requirement just to restore a cloud backup.

In addition to requiring contact with Nintendo Support, another disclaimer in the press release specifics that “a new or repaired Nintendo Switch system is required” and “recovery is only available in situations where a Nintendo Switch system is lost, stolen or damaged”.

That seems to imply Nintendo might be going as far as to check whether the Nintendo Switch receiving a restore hasn’t previously been used if it wasn’t repaired by the company.

So it’s pretty clear this will be a more complicated affair than simply pressing the Restore button in your Nintendo Switch’s settings, like you can with almost any other game. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a pain, but I certainly worry a bit when I hear the words “contact Nintendo Customer Support”.

While Nintendo doesn’t state their intentions, it appears to us that their intent is to reduce the possibility of sneaky players using the restore feature as a crafty item duplication method. That’s not a surprise given they’ve made an effort to patch out multiple duping glitches.

To do so, you’d have to go as far as to take the time to call up Nintendo and trick them into thinking your original Switch is dead or lost when it’s not really — which is quite a lot of effort just to duplicate a few items. Not to mention, you’d potentially be throwing away your option to perform a legitimate restore in the future.

And that’s assuming they don’t have any way to just remotely delete your original Switch’s save data if connected to the internet since you’ve told them it’s broken or lost, which honestly seems like a possibility with how serious they’re taking the process.

Despite all of the limitations we’ve discussed though, it’s good to know that we’ll at least have a chance of getting our islands back if anything unfortunate happens. For those that spent hundreds or even thousands of hours so far, it’s been a little terrifying knowing all that work could completely disappear with no recourse.

Finally, it’s extremely important to mention that the new Island Backup & Restoration Service releasing in this week’s update is entirely separate from the ability to directly transfer your island between systems.

Basically, there are going to be two separate services available for different purposes, and only one will be released this week. Here’s a quick summary in case it’s not clear:

Island Backup & Restoration Service

  • Backup your island to the Nintendo servers where it can be restored on another system after contacting Nintendo Support.
  • Only intended for use when the original system is completely broken or lost.
  • Available in the Summer Update Wave Two.

Island & User Save Data Transfer

  • Move your island or user to another Nintendo system from an existing system, but not from Nintendo’s servers.
  • Intended for when you have two systems next to each other that are fully functioning and want to move your island or character.
  • Available in a future update later this year.

If you wish to read all of the details and disclaimers yourself, check out the full relevant part of the English press release from Nintendo of America below:

Island Backup & Restoration Service – Nintendo Switch Online members can enable the new island backup service, which automatically uploads island and user save data to the internet at certain times. If your Nintendo Switch system is lost or damaged, you may be able to recover your island paradise as long as you’ve enabled island backup. In the event of loss or damage, contact Nintendo Consumer Support about restoring the island and user save data on your new or repaired Nintendo Switch system. After your island data and individual player data is restored, you can get back to building your island community!**** Additional details can be found on the Nintendo Consumer Support page when the update goes live. The island backup feature is separate from the Save Data Cloud functionality offered for select Nintendo Switch games through Nintendo Switch Online. A function specific to Animal Crossing: New Horizons to move users and save data to another system is planned for later this year. Details will be announced in the future.

****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.

And a rough translation of the Japanese announcement:

In order to use this “save data restoration service”, it is necessary to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online (paid), update “Atsume Animal Crossing Forest” to Ver.1.4.0 or later, and set it in the game. There is. Details and procedures will be announced at a later date.

Saved data cannot be restored at your own timing. In case of failure, you need to request repair to Nintendo Service Center, and in case of loss or theft, please contact our support.

It is not a function to move save data (island data) to another device. We plan to support the moving function within this year, but we will inform you about the details and the timing of the moving function.

Stay tuned to Animal Crossing World for everything on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, including our extensive Guides section here. In particular, don’t miss out on our recent Sea CreaturesPascal’s Mermaid Set, and Pirate Gulliver guides.

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