How To Move Switch Games to an SD Card
The Nintendo Switch bridges the gap between home consoles and portable gaming devices, allowing gamers to enjoy great titles anywhere. However, the Switch suffers from a tiny storage space, which isn’t the best for large libraries. Thankfully, there’s a solution to this problem built into the console.
With the help of microSD cards, you can maximize the number of games you can download onto your Switch. There’s not much you need to do, and you can learn all about the process by reading on.
Nintendo Switch Internal Storage Capacity
The original Nintendo Switch models only have 32GB of storage space, and the system reserves a part of it, which you can’t access. In 2021, the Nintendo Switch OLED version was released, and that variant has double the storage space. Even so, it’s still not enough for serious gamers who prefer digital game copies.
Many of Nintendo’s best titles are big games that take up a third of the original Switch’s storage space. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one example, requiring 13.4GB of storage space. That’s also without considering the DLC you can get.
Another big game, Pokémon Sword and Shield, takes up 10.3GB. If you want both digital copies of these games, your Switch will have no more space for much else – unless you own the OLED version, of course.
The Solution to Low Storage Capacity
The easiest solution is to buy physical copies, but that’s not possible for every game you want. Some are digital-only.
Therefore, every Switch owner that intends to play many games should invest in a microSD card. That way, they can bring their favorite titles anywhere without lugging a heap of cartridges around.
The Nintendo Switch supports microSDHC and microSDXC cards. The former goes up to 32GB and is cheaper, but the microSDCX cards are much better. These monsters can reach 2TB and even more, but the Switch can only support a maximum of 2TB external storage.
Moving Switch Games to SD Cards
Now that you know what you need to get, here’s the process for transferring your installed games to a new microSD card. It may take a while for the game to download to the microSD card, but you can play the game there once the process is finished. Remember that while the game files are on the card, save data always goes to the Switch system memory.
- Turn on your Nintendo Switch.
- Hold the power button down until a menu pops up.
- Pick “Power Options.”
- Select “Turn Off” from the list of choices.
- Flip the Switch kickstand behind the console.
- Reveal the microSD slot.
- Insert a microSD card into the Switch console.
- Turn your Switch on again.
If you already have a microSD card for your Switch and use it often, skip the steps above.
- Go to the Switch home screen.
- Select “System Settings,” which is represented by the gear icon.
- Go to “Manage Software.”
- Choose the game you want to transfer to your microSD card.
- Select “Archive Software.”
- Confirm by choosing “Archive.”
- Go back to the home screen.
- Pick the game you just archived.
- Select “Download.”
- Wait for the game to be transferred before you can play it again.
Moving these games to a microSD card will free up large amounts of memory capacity for your game save files, as these will never go to the card. However, when you have too much save data, you can’t transfer it anywhere but another Switch.
You can also use these steps to transfer your games to another Switch. Transferring the save data is a different process, however.
Things to Remember While Moving Switch Games
According to the Nintendo support website, there are some important rules to remember when transferring data. Here they are:
- Software transferred to a microSD card won’t work on other Switches
This rule means that you cannot share games between friends who all have their own Nintendo Switches. The data will only load on one Switch, which is the one you used to initiate the software move.
- One microSD card should only be used for one Switch
It’s best to designate only one card for your console, especially if you’re transferring games. You can use another one for saving images, replays, and other data.
- Close the software first
When you want to transfer a game, it must be inactive. Therefore, you have to stop playing the game or using the software before the process can begin. Fortunately, closing a game takes only three seconds.
Recommended microSD Cards for Nintendo Switch
As many Switch games are getting bigger in storage size, we recommend getting a microSD card with a storage capacity of at least 64GB. That will let you hold around five big games and have more space for smaller games. However, the optimal size will vary depending on individual preferences, so make a mental note of how many games you’d like.
While practically any brand will do, SanDisk manufactures UHS-I microSDXC cards that work perfectly on a Nintendo Switch. These cards are unique in their design, sporting Mario, Zelda, and other themes licensed by Nintendo. You can find them online or in game stores without much trouble.
These cards should have transfer speeds of 60-95MBps, but going higher is also possible.
Depending on your needs, you can buy a memory card of these capacities:
Various other cards offering different capacities exist, such as 400GB, but only get a microSD card from a reputable company. Their products are more reliable and are worth the higher cost, and you wouldn’t want to risk losing your games. Fortunately, you can always re-download them if you lose them.
Where does Switch save data go?
When you play Switch games, the save data will go to the internal memory. Whether you own a physical or digital copy doesn’t matter. Switch save data can’t be transferred to microSD cards, however.
Can I play the games on a different Switch?
Yes, but you can’t access your save files on that Switch unless you transfer the data over. It would therefore still be better to move the data over before doing so.
Can I transfer from one SD card to another?
Yes, you can do this if you bought a better SD card or just want to make the change. However, the process will require a PC.
Does the Switch support USB drives?
Unfortunately, the Switch cannot support USB drives at all. It used to be possible, but Nintendo has disabled the function. The only way to use external USB drives now is by hacking your Switch.
Thus, the only solution is to use microSD cards.
As archiving and re-downloading Switch games is a hassle, expanding the Switch’s storage is the best course of action. The internal memory is too small for multiple large AAA games which go beyond 10GB. Thus, it’s much better to stick with microSD cards for expanded storage.
Do you use a microSD card on your Switch, and what brand is it? How large do you think a Switch microSD card should be? Let us know in the comments section below.