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How to Manually Move Cluster Files from Server to Server

The "Cluster" system in ARK: Survival Evolved allows players to move characters, items, and dinosaurs from one server to another, that have been linked together by special settings (ie, they are "clustered" servers).

When a player uploads things from one server at Obelisks or Beacons, they are saved to special upload files on the server. If other servers can access that same folder, they will see the same upload files, and the characters, items, or dinos in the file can be downloaded to a different server's map.

The one critical part of that system is that all the clustered ARK servers need to be able to see and access the same files. There is no system built into the ARK: Survival Evolved servers for sending the files across the internet. It can normally only save or change files on the same computer it's installed on.

How this works on Self Hosted Servers

If you're running all your own ARK servers on your own home computer then that's a simple thing. With the servers all installed to the same computer, they can easily access anything on the same computer. You just have to add some settings to each server telling them where to look for these files.

Official Wildcard Studios Servers

On the official Wildcard Studios pc servers, and the servers that console players use (XBOX and Playstation), there does exist some system for moving files between servers. Whatever this system is, it's external to the game ARK: Survival Evolved and will not be available to all privately hosted dedicated servers.

What this article CANNOT help you with

This article will not help you set up any fully automatic system for "clustered" servers, like the official servers have, where it uploads and downloads files automatically from one hosted server to another.

As we said above, that only works if the servers are all running on a single computer, or some other steps have been taken to synchronize files.

There are posts in forum threads where people have outlined steps to possibly make clustering work on separate computers, involving file synchronization, symbolic links, VPNs, etc. Those are are way outside the scope of this article and we are not going to be discussing those here.

What this article WILL help with

  • Enable clustering on a server, to make it create the files that contain the uploads.

  • Manually move those filess from one server to another.

As long as the servers create the upload files, they can then be found and moved. Is it as convenient as an automatic system that does it all for you? Nope. But it works.


This guide involves a fairly complex system.

We highly recommend reading this entire guide, very very carefully before proceeding. We recommend making backups of all the servers involved before proceeding. Everything shown in this guide was tested, repeatedly, but if shortcuts are taken on certain steps, it can go off the rails pretty fast.

Some examples of how to use this

Moving Special Dinos Between Maps

  • Just tamed a wyvern? A griffin? A rock golem? A bloodstalker? Want to actually take that off the map you tamed it on, and bring it back to one of the other maps?

  • Moving specially bred dinos. If you've spent lots of time cross-breeding dinos for good stats and mutations, that's a serious time commitment! You'll want to bring the results of all that hard work to a new map. You don't want to start over from scratch with admin spawned and force-tamed replacements. They're going to have random stats, not the the perfect stats and bonuses you spent so long working on.

  • Even if your dinos aren't cross-bred and super mutated, you may be very attached to them. They're YOUR dinos. You worked hard to tame them, you've named them, you've got stories about them, etc. If you go to a new map, you want the dinos who helped you through thick and thin at your side. No other otter will compare to "Mr. Wiggles", the super otter, who kept you from freezing to death in the snow biome. Like wearing a little furry space heater around your neck.

Moving things Between Single Player and Multiplayer Maps

  • By manually moving and renaming the files, this is actually possible. This is something the standard clustering system would not even normally allow.

Private Servers Hosted in Different Locations

  • You could move upload files between many different servers, installed in different locations. They can be rented dedicated servers, self hosted servers. or a mix. Your friend runs a Ragnorak server, you are running The Island, someone else is running Scorched Earth. Even though the servers are scattered all over the place, you could still "move" between them. You just send the files the cluster process makes, and your friend uploads them to the servers they run.

Hot Swapping Maps

  • If you only have a single hosted server, you can still move from map to map, playing through the whole "story" of ARK: Survival Evolved. All you have to do is upload your stuff on the first map, copy the files created by the clustering process, and then switch the server over to the new map. Add the files back, and go to any terminal to pull the stuff out on the new map.

  • You could also use the "instances" feature here at Nodecraft to create completely separate installations of ARK: Survival Evolved, each with a different map. You can only have one instance deployed at a time to each service plan, but you could easily swap instances back and forth, without altering any progress on each map. Just manually move the upload files from server to server to move your characters, items, and dinos.

Setting up "Clusters" on a Multiplayer Server

To enable clusters on a server, you have to add some special settings to the startup arguments. Here at Nodecraft, we have a method for adding startup arguments on our control panel. If you are self-hosting you would manually add these settings to the command line you use to start your server.

Click on the "Game Settings" tab of the Nodecraft control panel, and then on the blue bar across the top of that page, click on the the "Advanced" section.

A view of the Nodecraft control panel, showing the game settings for the game ARK: Survival Evolved

Once on the "Advanced" section, scroll down until you see the "Custom Server Arguments" section. The settings that need to be added will go in the "Startup Arguments" box on the right side of the screen.

A view of the Nodecraft control panel, showing the custom server arguments section of the game ARK: Survival Evolved

Add the settings below. Each setting needs to be in it's own box. You can create addition boxes by clicking the circle button with a plus sign on it, at the right end of the box.


The "MyClusterID" part of the second settings can be changed to any unique name you want. That's just an example.

If you were setting up clustering in an environment with many different groups of clustered servers, the clusterID would server as a unique identifier that would block out any servers from different clustered groups. Basically, it's sort of like a password. You'd want to make it unique, and keep it secret. But since you're going to be moving files manually between your own servers, it sort of doesn't matter what you call it. Once you've chosen a clusterID, do not change it. Files created under a different clusterID will not be shown for download on a server which does not have a matching clusterID.

After all three settings are entered, it should looks something like this:

A view of the Nodecraft control panel showing settings for a clustered server

Multiple Servers

If you are running many different servers, they all need to share the same clusterID setting. You could potentially change the save location of cluster upload files to a different location on each server (since you're going to be moving the files manually anyways), but that's just extra work. If you have different types of servers (rented, self hosted, etc) that might be necessary since some servers could have different file setups.

Restart the Server(s)

Restart the servers, and if it's done correctly, the servers are now "clustered" (well, sort of yes, sort of no, as we explained above).

Where to go In Game to Upload Items

These are some of the ways you can access an upload terminal, depending on the ARK map you are playing on:

  • Obelisk The huge floating towers in red, green, or blue. Easy to find, can't miss 'em. Access the terminal at the very center of the circle directly under the Obelisk.

  • Supply Beacons Alternately, you can also do this at a supply beacon, but those have a timer and go away after a while, so it probably better to use an Obelisk so you aren't rushed.

  • Genesis: Part 1 Event Consoles If you're playing on the "Genesis Part 1" DLC map, then you can go to ANY of the consoles for any event, on any section of the biome map (ocean, bog, etc). They all work like Obelisks. You can even access the event tab on your inventory, and it shows you the distance to each console. Choose to "track" a mission and it puts a HUD map marker showing the way to that event's console, which is super convenient.

Uploading Characters, Items, and Dinos

Once you've accessed an upload terminal, it will open your inventory screen on the left, and the inventory of the terminal on the right. There are some options:

Upload character You can upload your character by clicking the button in the center of the screen, between the two inventory screens. None of your items will go with you, so leave them somewhere, or upload them as items separately (see below). You will keep your level, stats, and engrams only.

Upload Items Access the "Transmit ARK Data" tab on the terminal side of the screen (right side). Drop things you want to upload into the spaces there. You'll see a black pop up window briefly appear (it says item being uploaded, etc), and red text will appear across the item in the tribute terminal's inventory. That's the countdown timer until those items are deleted, unless they are re-downloaded somewhere else.

Upload Dinosaurs Access this tab, and it shows you all nearby dinosaurs in the area that belong to you or your tribe. This only includes dinosaurs deployed into the world. Dinosaurs in a cryopod are actually "items", and you would upload them using the "Transmit ARK Data" tab.

Where to find the Upload Files Created on Multiplayer "Clustered" Server

Once you successfully upload at least one item at a terminal, the game will create a clusters folder ( with a lower case c), inside the folder location you specified in the ClusterDirOverride=.

Inside that folder, it makes another folder which will be named after the -clusterid= setting, that was used used to enable clustering.

So the settings shown earlier in this guide, would cause the game to create folders in /ShooterGame/Saved, and it would make clusters/MyClusterID after a character uploads the first thing. The full file path to the location of the upload files would be /ShooterGame/Saved/clusters/MyClusterID

Inside that last folder, named for the clusterID, it creates files with each player's own Steam64ID. The file contains everything they've uploaded, and it makes only a single file for each player, adding or subtracting things inside of it as they are uploaded or downloaded and removed.

Copy the File for Each Player

Make sure the other servers (or same server changed to a new map) has the same clusterID settings that match the first server. It will literally not show tribute files created under a clusterID, if the server doesn't have one set, or it's a different clusterID that doesn't match the first server. The clusterID acts like a filter, and a password (sort of).

If you've never uploaded anything on the new server, you won't see those folders mentioned above yet (clusters and the clusterID named folder). You could manually re-create them (not the best habit by the way), but make sure you spell the folders names exactly as the settings require, including case sensitivity (upper and lower case letters matter)

Another method would just to go to any upload terminal in that game, and add some junk item to a terminal (rotting meat, etc). That will cause the game to have to create those folders if it has not already. The resulting upload file could just then be deleted (bye bye, rotting meat), but all the folders created will still remain. Overall it's better to let the game make this stuff itself.

Add the upload file from the first server, and it should show the items that were uploaded from the first one.

Files can be added to a multiplayer server while it's running. As long as the terminal window is not open, you can swap upload files while the server is running. It only searches for a file when you access a terminal, and then if it finds the file, it shows the contents.

Where to find Single player Uploads Files

Single player mode doesn't need any setting turned on. By default, a similar mechanism to clustering is automatically enabled, and you can upload stuff from any terminal on a single player map, and then those same items will appear in terminals on other single player maps you have on the same computer.

All uploaded items are stored in a single file (since there's only one single player), but the file is named differently on a single player game.

The file is called PlayerLocalData.arkprofile.

The file is located in ShooterGame/Saved/LocalProfiles.

The Saved folder is where are the different maps created in single player mode are stored, and all the maps can access that LocalProfiles folder, and the file inside of it.

Note: If you delete the PlayerLocalData.arkprofile file, as soon as you start the game, a fresh file will be created. The file will be empty inside. This can get a little confusing, if you had previously just deleted this file. "Wait, why is the file back??? I thought I just deleted it!". Don't worry, it's just what the game does in single player.

Moving Multiplayer Files to Single Player

You CAN move the upload files from a multiplayer game to a single player game. You just need to rename the file from the player's steam64ID to PlayerLocalData.arkprofile. There can only be a single file at one time (since it's single player), but you can repeat this process with multiple files one after the other.

In single player, you need to restart the game to load in each new file. You cannot hotswap the files while single player game is running. I would highly recommend only switching the files while the server is stopped and shutdown.

By this process, you could move the characters, items, and dinos of multiple characters from a multiplayer server onto a single player local hosted server (non-dedicated server). Of course, local hosted servers only "exist" as long as the main player is playing the game, but it's an option for retaining multiplayer ARK worlds on your local computer.

Moving Single Player files to Multiplayer

The same process works backwards, allowing you to move single player items, dinos, etc to a multiplayer dedicated server.

Rename the PlayerLocalData.arkprofile file from the single player game to the Steam64ID number of the player on the multiplayer server, and place it in the appropriate clusterID folder on the multiplayer server. Since single player games have no cluster settings, it doesn't need to have a matching clusterID. On multiplayer servers, you can do this while the server is running. When that player accesses the terminal, it will show the items from the single player game.

Timers on Uploaded Items

Normally, when you upload items on a multiplayer server, you instantly see a countdown timer appear over each item in red numbers. This timer is counting down from 24 hours. If the items is not removed by the end of that countdown, it goes bye bye. Poof, gone. Forever.

Apparently, whatever mechanism that controls that may have a "date" element to it. If you upload files, then let them sit around on your computer for more then 24 hours, they will be empty when you try to view their contents on a new map. As soon as the game opens those files, it will check the timestamp, and then auto "expire" them.

So consider upload files perishable. Do not try to upload and create multiple files and then store them for later. This is also another good reason why each upload should be immediately downloaded on the new map.

Create upload file, move file, remove items on new map, delete the old file, repeat.

There Can be Only One

Please remember, that the upload system only makes a single file for each player, with their unique Steam64ID number on multiplayer servers, or a just a single file ever for single player.

Normally the single file would be opened, changed (things added or removed), and then saved. And this would happen repeatedly as you uploaded and downloaded new stuff, with the same single file by changed over and over again. But that synchronization doesn't happen if the files are being moved manually, meaning the copies of that same file can have radically different things in them from one server to the next.

This gets nightmarishly confusing, really quickly. Trying to move the same files back and forth is a ticket to get on a crazy train. Here's some guidelines to reduce the potential nightmares:

  • Move files in one direction only. From the 1st server (where you uploaded at a terminal) to the 2nd sever (where you download them).

  • Don't try to move the same file back and forth. After moving the file, delete it, and the game will make a new one next time you upload something. If an upload file is deleted, the game automatically makes a new one for that player, as soon as they upload any new items. So take advantage of this feature, and just start with a fresh file for each transfer.

  • Remove all the items in the file, at the destination server. Any items left in the file will be destroyed when you replace it with a new file, so remove everything.

  • Delete the copy of the upload file from both the destination server, and the source one. See section on anti-duping at the end of this guide for reasons why it's bad idea to leave the originals on the 1st server, after you upload and move them.

  • Repeat the process again, uploading new items on the 1st server, and then manually moving the files as described above.

Things that CANNOT be Uploaded

Some things aren't supposed to be downloaded into certain maps. These can include things like "element", or certain specific dinos, (possibly because the "vanilla" version of that dinosaur doesn't exist on that map, and it's vanilla files have been re-textured/re-used as some dino unique to that map). You will need to check the ARK: Survival Evolved wiki for details specific to each map of items not allowed, or items known to cause issues.

Normally, the system wouldn't let you download them at all, but manually moving the files like we are describing might be circumventing that process, in a sort of bad way. The reason you weren't supposed to download them to that map, is that they could potentially cause the game to crashes or freeze on startup.

If you find this happening, go back to the 1st server, and remove the items from the upload terminal, and then get new copies of the corrected upload file, and try repeating the process from the start. This may require some trial and error until you figure out exactly which of the items you attempted to download was causing the issues.

Known Issues with Moving Clusters Files

Anti-Duping If you upload a copy of the same file, and attempt to download the same exact items twice, it generally doesn't work. Exact duplicate copies are instantly deleted when added to the same inventory (your player's inventory, storage boxes, etc). Items that appear in stacks will combine, and increase the stack to it's maximum size, but leftovers will simply disappear, and it will not make an additional stack. A stack of 97 arrows, added to a duped stack of 97 already in your inventory, results in a single stack of 100 arrows. The other 94 remaining arrows go poof, gone. This only applies if it's the same items from a duplicate copy of the upload file. If you uploaded three stacks of arrows on the 1st server, you can pull out all three separate stacks normally. Each stack will have some hidden tracking number letting the game know they are unique items.

Delete items from the first server Once you've successfully moved all the items in the upload file to another server, we highly recommend that those items be removed from the first server (but only after you're sure they can all be downloaded, as mentioned above). Because of the anti-duping mechanisms described above, if you ever brought those same items back, they could instantly disappear when you pick them up. With the normal clustering process, the same item would never be left on the original server. As soon as a player removed items from a terminal on the 2nd destination server, they would instantly disappear from the items shown in upload terminals on the 1st server where they were uploaded. The same exact items are not meant to be in two places at once. Sure, you could keep using the original items on the 1st server, but one day you will be really really really frustrated as to why you keep adding an item to the container, and it keeps disappearing. You forgot it's an item you moved to another server, and then brought back. And the original item was never deleted. But the game didn't forget, so Zap! Gone, instantly. You can remove items by simply taking them out of the terminal on the 1st server, dropping them on the ground, and letting them despawn ( I know it's tough to watch). Or, simply delete that specific upload file in the clusters folder that has that player's Steam64ID. The game will create a new file as soon as that player uploads any new items.

Once again, don't delete any files from the source server until you're absolutely 100% sure they can all be downloaded into the destination server.

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