- For save file locations, methods of saving on PC and consoles, and save file editing documentation see Saves.
On mobile, Stardew Valley's save method is based upon the system used for PC, but with some additions to make it more suited to mobile devices.
The game creates a folder on the device for each save game. You can see this folder by connecting your iOS device to a Mac or PC running iTunes, as outlined here.
In that folder, there are three different kinds of save files which can appear - Standard Saves, Emergency Saves and Backup saves.
Standard Saves are the same format found on the PC version of the game. The PC version only allows saving when going to sleep, so standard saves retain this system. A standard save always starts at 6am in the morning when loaded. These saves are compatible with PC, and can be transferred back and forth.
When a standard save happens, the mobile version (like PC) keeps your previous standard save, using the suffix ‘_old’. Occasionally, save files might encounter problems. If this happens, players can swap between the most recent standard save and the previous backup by pressing the ‘Swap to previous save’ button on the Options page.
Unlike a PC, a mobile device can sometimes interrupt the game - for example, if a phone call happens mid-game. Also, players may change to another app, and want to resume where they left off in the game later on. When the app is no longer shown on the screen, it is classed as being a ‘background’ app. If the phone or tablet is running low on resources, it might automatically unload any background apps, losing any unsaved progress.
If the game moves into the background, and then resumed, if the app hasn’t been unloaded by the phone/tablet, it will continue where it left off. If the game has been unloaded, however, the game will be reloaded, and will then need to load a save in order to carry on where it left off. To allow this, the game does an ‘emergency save’ when it goes into the background (for example, when you press the home button on an iPhone). Because of the complexity of Stardew Valley, this save takes a few seconds. If you ‘kill’ the app before this save is completed (by swiping it away from the list of background apps), the game will not complete its emergency save.
Note:The game will not do an emergency save when quit, if the game time is less than 6:20am, as it's assumed that it has just done a standard save.
When the game loads up, it checks to see if there’s a file called EMERGENCY_SAVE present. If there is, it looks in that file to find the location of the most recent emergency save. If it finds one, it gives the player the opportunity to load that instead of going to the main menu. The game does not delete emergency saves once they've been loaded. Instead, the emergency saves will be deleted only when the game saves either a standard or backup save.
At any time (other than during certain festivals, cutscenes and other events), players can manually save the game with the ‘Save Backup’ button on the options page. This saves progress as a backup file, similar to an emergency save, but players won’t be prompted to load this save when starting the game. Instead, when selecting a game to load, if there’s a backup save which is more recent than the last standard save, a prompt will ask whether it should be loaded instead. When players make a backup save, any emergency saves are deleted, since the backup save is more recent.
In order to maintain compatibility with the PC version, the game needs to keep the standard save to be the 6am morning save. But, the PC version isn’t compatible with the concept of loading/saving anywhere/any time, so that's why these multiple systems are supported.