How To Transfer and Backup Nintendo Switch Games to Micro SD Card Storage

The Nintendo Switch comes with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage depending on the model. While this may seem like a lot, it can quickly fill up with digital games, game updates, and downloadable content. Using a micro SD card allows you to massively expand the storage capacity of your Switch.

Transferring games and save data to a micro SD card can help free up the Switch’s internal storage for new games. It also serves as a good backup in case anything happens to the data on the Switch itself. Follow this guide to properly set up an SD card and transfer games.

Choosing an SD Card

The Switch supports micro SD, micro SDHC, and micro SDXC cards up to 2TB in capacity. A card with a high read/write speed is recommended for optimal performance. The Switch officially supports up to UHS-I speeds, meaning a card with read speeds of at least 95-100MB/s works best. Some recommendations:

  • SanDisk Ultra – Affordable option available up to 400GB. Read speeds up to 100MB/s.
  • Samsung EVO Select – Good balance of value and performance. Available up to 512GB with 100MB/s read speeds.
  • SanDisk Extreme – Premium option focused on high speeds, allowing you to load games faster. Available up to 1TB with read speeds over 160MB/s.

Formatting the SD Card

Before using a new SD card, it must be formatted to work properly with the Switch:

  1. Insert the SD card into the console.
  2. Go to System Settings -> Formatting Options.
  3. Select Format microSD Card.
  4. Choose Format microSD Card again to confirm.

This will erase all data on the card and optimize it for use with the Switch.

Transferring Games

To move downloaded games and content from the Switch’s internal storage to the SD card:

  1. Go to System Settings -> Data Management -> Move Data Between System / microSD Card
  2. Select the game data you want to move.
  3. Choose Move Data to initiate the transfer.

The time it takes will depend on the size of the games and the write speed of your SD card. Moving large games like The Witcher 3 can take over an hour.

Backing Up Save Data

Save data is stored separately from game data in the Switch’s internal memory. It does not automatically transfer over when moving games to an SD card. To properly back up saves:

  1. Go to System Settings -> Data Management
  2. Select Copy Save Data to create a backup on the second storage location

This allows you to restore from backup if the data becomes corrupted or lost on one device. Save data cannot be stored directly on the SD card.

Tips When Using SD Cards

  • Re-download any digital games instead of copying the data to a new SD card. Downloads are tied specifically to the SD card used.
  • Save data is tied to an account and console, not the SD card. Deleting the card will not affect save files.
  • An SD card reader for a computer can be used to easily copy data as a backup instead of re-downloading games.

Using a high capacity micro SD card allows you to store a large digital library while keeping the most-played games on the Switch’s internal storage for optimal performance. Properly transferring and backing up data ensures you can restore your progress if anything goes wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use multiple SD cards to store different games?

Yes, but downloading games is tied to the specific SD card used. Switching cards would require re-downloading games instead of simply copying data. Using one large SD card is simpler.

What happens if my SD card is corrupted or damaged?

Save data would remain intact on the Switch’s internal storage. However, any game data stored on the SD card could be lost. This emphasizes the importance of proper backups.

Is game save data ever stored on SD cards?

No. Save data exclusively lives on the Switch’s internal storage for security reasons. The SD card only contains digital games, updates, and additional content.

Can I back up my save data to the cloud?

The Switch offers a limited cloud backup option for select games through Nintendo Switch Online. This can help preserve save data but has restrictions. Using the local backup method outlined above is still recommended.

What SD card size is best?

A card with at least 128GB of storage is recommended for an average user. More serious players with large digital libraries will benefit from 256GB or higher. With the Switch supporting up to 2TB SDXC cards, you can substantially increase available space.