You may have seen my video on Steam Cloud saves a few months back where I showed you how to deal with the problem of the Steam cloud going offline. In that video I basically showed you where saved games and saved settings are stored locally.
Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper, however. Not all games follow the rules and end up spreading their files in multiple locations.
So what do you do when the saved games aren't where you expect them to be? Well, you get a shovel but you do have some help.
The old fashioned way Steam saved games was within Steam's own directory structure. It's ugly, full of numbers and can be confusing but I'll give you a few tips to make it easier to navigate.
First of all, you need to know where that super secret Steam save directory is. The path looks something like:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\31999578
That last directory full of numbers will likely be different on your PC. It's part of the Steam tracking that allows the cloud sync to find your profile and saved game settings and sync them across different machines. The screen capture below is what my Steam directory looks like...
All those numbered directories correspond to your installed games in Steam. Nothing very descriptive about them but this is where you need to be if you're worried about a Steam cloud synchronization problem or corrupted saved games which can happen.
The best way to find specific game saves in the midst of this numerical directory nightmare is to do a search at the top of the directory tree as shown. Filter on the date then choose the files/folders that match what you know to be the last good game save.
Below shows A windows 7 search dialog based on date. Other versions of Windows similar...
And the result...
What you see in the example above are all the files within the steam profile directory that were changed within the date(s) specified. It may not be as obvious as a directory called "SavedGames" in the windows user profile directory but once you know where to look it's not that difficult.
In the example above there's actually a few files that begin with "savedgamexxxx." Pretty obvious what they're for. If you right click on those files and choose "Open file location" you'll be taken to the appropriate directory. Simply copy the contents to a safe place and if things go wrong simply copy these files back into this location.
The next time you start steam you may see a message about a Steam cloud save conflict. Choose the local files to ensure the recovered saved games are restored properly.