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Nintendo Switch Save Data Cannot be Copied or Transferred

Bad news for those hoping to make backups.

While Nintendo’s Switch console has some notable benefits over its competitors such as quick physical game install times, it’s missing one feature which could very well wind up being a deal breaker for some: the ability to transfer or copy game save data.

As Nintendo explains in this Switch FAQ thread, save data for Switch games is stored directly on the Switch console regardless of whether the game is a physical cartridge or digital download. The FAQ also states that save data cannot be copied or transferred to an external source such as a MicroSD card, and a player’s only recourse when they run out of save data room on their Switch console is to delete other save game data to free up space.

This means that if your Switch console were ever to break beyond the point of recovery or if you managed to accidently delete a save file, you’d be straight out of luck. Some users are rightfully upset about this limitation, especially considering previous Nintendo consoles like the Wii U and 3DS offered ways of transferring and/or backing up save game data.

Furthermore, competing consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 both offer ways for users to store copies of their save game data either to external devices (like USB sticks) or via cloud storage.

It’s possible Nintendo has plans to eventually allow the transferring and/or copying of save data for Switch games, but in the meantime, Switch users should make sure they take good care of their console. Especially if they don’t want to lose the many hours they poured into games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.   

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Nate Hohl

Nate Hohl got his start in the video games journalism industry shortly after graduating college and since then he has come to find enjoyment in critiquing various forms of media (games, movies, books, etc.) and seeing how they affect our ever-developing idea of culture. If you'd like to contact him, you can do so via his email address, nate.hohl@greenlitcontent.com, or his admittedly oft-neglected Twitter account @NateHohl.