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You Can't Backup Your Nintendo Switch Save Files

The Nintendo Switch is the Japanese gaming company’s latest home console, after the Wii U launched less than 5 years ago. Nintendo have always been known for their unique take on gaming when compared to major competitors Sony and Microsoft, and the Switch is no different. This time the console features a tablet-like screen, with two detachable pads either side for controls. Also, the controller is the console and can be turned into a portable device.

Whether this console will be the success Nintendo wants it to be remains to be seen. Their main exclusive launch game, the latest in the Zelda series, has received rave reviews and will undoubtedly shift systems for those keen to get their hands on it. However, it’s unlikely that the success is going to be as great as the original Wii, such the unique take on gaming that it was.

The Switch supports expandable storage via microSD, changeable via a slot behind the kickstand, up to a maximum of 2TB. Since the console’s internal storage only offers 32GB of space, less than 26GB which is useable, that’s a great thing. In the modern gaming world where digital downloads rule, ample storage space is needed.

However, gaming website Polygon have discovered that your game saves are forced to the internal storage and can’t be transferred to a SD card. The Switch uses cartridges, like the Nintendo DS systems, but differs from the portables in the fact the save data isn’t saved to the cartridge itself.

If you go to the Data Mangement section of the Switch, you’ll find there’s a section where you can manage your save data and screenshots. However, delve inside and the only option for save games is to delete them. That’s different when you go into a screenshot, which you can move between the internal storage and SD card.

This is problematic from a backup perspective. If your Switch breaks or is stolen, all your games progress is gone forever. Even if you have the game still, you’ll have to start over afresh. In a game like Zelda that is packed full of collecting and missions, that’s not a frustration you want to suffer after sinking tens of hours into it.

One way to help overcome this problem would be if Nintendo introduced cloud storage as a save game solution, like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 allow. While it still isn’t the ultimate solution from an archive perspective – those servers are going to go down at some point in the future – it’s better than everything just being tied to the console.

Polygon reached out to Nintendo for comment. A representative responded, saying, “At this time, it is not possible to transfer save data from one Nintendo Switch system to another.”

It could be that this feature will be made available in the future. There have been rumblings that the Switch was rushed for release, with some pointing to an underdeveloped operating system as proof. However, for now there’s no way to back up your game saves.


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