Xbox Will Start Deleting Old Captures on May 30: Here’s How to Save Them – CNET

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Xbox warned warned in September that it would delete online backups of player captures — including both video captures and screenshots — that were 90 days old or older. After months of no action, Xbox is circulating a message telling users that May 30 is the day of reckoning for their capture library. 

A representative for Xbox didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Xbox has been sending warning messages about game capture deletion over the last few days.

Screenshot by Joe Hindy/CNET

The new policy went into effect with the September update for Xbox. At the time, players were told that they had 90 days to back up their content and that deletions would start in January. Xbox also rolled out a new UI for bulk backups, either through OneDrive or with an external storage drive that players could use to back up their content before it was deleted. 

However, January came and went, and Xbox didn’t make any announcements about why the mass deletion was pushed back, until a warning message started appearing in people’s inboxes in late April. 

Xbox has also been quiet about the reason for the change. The ability to upload game captures to the Xbox network has been around since 2013, when the company announced Game DVR. Game DVR allowed players to take captures, edit them and upload them to the network to share with friends. The name and functionality have changed over the years, but there are some gamers out there with uploaded clips that are a decade old.

Xbox stands to regain a large amount of storage on its servers once the deletions take place, which means the servers will be cheaper to manage. Regardless, players won’t be able to rely on the endless amount of free storage they’ve had for a decade and will have to look at ways to back up their content. 

What content is Xbox deleting?

Xbox is deleting all game captures and screenshots that have been uploaded to the Xbox network and are 90 days old or older starting on May 30. The company has said multiple times that this affects only clips that are uploaded to the network and not clips that are locally stored on players’ machines or clips that are stored elsewhere like OneDrive or an external storage drive.

The only caveat is that players who have swapped consoles over the years may not have locally stored versions of their older captures. I have a screenshot from a video game that I played on my Xbox One X. When I upgraded to the Xbox Series X, I lost the offline version of that screenshot, which means the only version of that screenshot is now the one backed up on Xbox’s network. 

A player can save all of their clips by simply migrating them to another storage platform. Flash drives are relatively inexpensive, or players can optionally spring for a OneDrive subscription and reupload their captures there to keep them safe and immediately shareable with friends.

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Automatic uploads should still be available once clips start getting deleted.

Screenshot by Joe Hindy/CNET

Can I still back up captures on Xbox network?

Yes, content can still be manually or automatically uploaded to the Xbox network immediately after capture. However, as soon as you upload something, you’ll have 90 days to share it around before it gets deleted. It’s unclear if a clip can be reuploaded after it’s been deleted or if it’s a one-time thing. At this time, you can reupload clips that you’ve deleted from the Xbox network, but that may change once the forced deletions happen.

This can be controlled in your Xbox settings. On your Xbox, head to Settings > Preferences > Capture & share. Once there, find the To the Xbox network setting under the Automatic uploads section and set it to either Captures by me or Captures by me or games. Alternatively, you can set it to Don’t upload if you don’t want to use the Xbox network anymore.

Screenshot of Xbox offering back-up options.

Xbox gives you the option to back up to external storage or to OneDrive.

Screenshot by Joe Hindy/CNET

How to backup your Xbox captures

Backing up your Xbox captures to an external storage drive or OneDrive is a virtually identical process. The only real difference, if you have a lot of content to back up, is which progress bar you want to watch for an hour. 

If you’re going with an external drive, make sure to have a storage drive connected to your Xbox and make sure it’s formatted for use with your Xbox before proceeding. 

  • With your console on, click the Xbox button on your controller. 

  • Navigate to the Capture & share section.

  • Select Recent captures and then Show all.

  • Select the Manage icon. It looks like a briefcase. 

  • On the right side, use the Select all option to select all of your captures, or scroll through and select the captures you want to back up manually.

  • Once done, select Copy to external storage if you want to backup to a storage drive or Upload to OneDrive if you want to go the cloud storage route.

  • Your Xbox will perform the function you selected. 

Once the files are done copying, you’re all finished. For external drives, you can view your old captures using the Xbox Media Player app. People who backed up their stuff to OneDrive can view it there. 

Should I use an external storage drive or OneDrive?

External storage is the more cost-effective route since you can purchase an external storage drive and keep it on you. It’s also a one-time purchase rather than a subscription. Once you get an external storage drive — whether it’s a USB flash drive or a hard drive — you can back up your captures immediately.

The other benefit of external storage drives is cross-platform support. You can save your captures to a thumb drive, transport them to your PC and share the actual file instead of generating a share link from cloud storage. Plus, by having the actual file, you have the power to choose which cloud storage you want to use.

OneDrive isn’t a bad backup solution either. It’s integrated directly to the Xbox and you can still generate share links just like you could with Xbox network uploads. That makes it quick, easy and hands-off for people who don’t want to do extra work. You can also access OneDrive on your phone or PC to download your captures. The only downside is that you may need to purchase a subscription for extra storage if you have a lot of captures you want to save.

In short, there’s no right answer. It depends entirely on preference. You’ll be able to access your captures either way.

How to back up captures from your PC

According to Xbox, captures made with the Xbox Game Bar on PC don’t get uploaded to the Xbox network and are therefore not subject to the 90-day deletion policy. So if you use Xbox Game Bar to capture things, all of your captures are stored locally and will not be deleted at all. 

To see your capture library, open Xbox Game Bar by pressing Windows Key + G > See My Captures. When the gallery window pops up, click the folder icon to open the folder on your PC that stores your captures. You can then use cloud storage or a flash drive to back them up from there if you want to. 

Screenshot showing Xbox captures UI

The captures user interface on an Xbox Series X is shown.

Screenshot by Joe Hindy/CNET

How to delete old captures 

Some players don’t have a lot of captures on their Xbox while others have hundreds. Often, players will accidentally hit the screenshot button during gameplay, so there are a lot of accidental screenshots out there. You may want to prune your capture collection before backing up so you don’t have to back up a lot of useless stuff. Here’s how to do it. 

  • With your Xbox on, hit the Xbox button. 

  • Navigate to Capture & share.

  • Select Show all.

  • Go to the capture you want to delete and hit the start button on your Xbox controller.

  • Select Delete

  • If you want to delete multiple, hit the manage icon. It looks like a briefcase. 

  • Select all of the captures you want to delete. 

  • Select Delete.

Once you select delete, the selected captures will be deleted. Be careful, as they are not recoverable once you do this. 

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