It’s been no secret that Nintendo has been less than stellar when it comes to managing data (both physically and on the cloud). While they dominate game development, their hardware/OS development often leaves something to be desired.

Remember memory cards? Nintendo dipped into proper save/data management only once when it released the GameCube. The standard memory card system was the last time it was easy to move anything between consoles, or other memory cards, on a Nintendo system. Good times...

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The Wii was the decline for data management. Yes, you could use an SD card and move files around, but a lot of purchases were tied to your console so if you wanted to move to another device? Well, you were out of luck unless Nintendo made a special exception after you called into their tech support. This same issue applied to the Wii U and the 3DS, too. If you wanted to move between systems it was an incredibly long process with one large caveat. You still needed access to your old console. If your console is lost/stolen/broken... Well, things just got a whole lot more complicated.

Meanwhile, the PS3/PS4/PS Vita support cloud saves that allow you to keep your saves safe, and easier to move between consoles. Xbox 360 had a removable hard drive the could move to other consoles, and Microsoft has jumped on the cloud saving bandwagon, as well, with the Xbox One.

I know the recent push in the market is to tie your saves closer to you, especially for the Switch (since the idea is that you and your friends will all have your own, in most cases), but it doesn’t mean that Nintendo is free to half-ass such a basic and sometimes very important feature.

My latest frustration comes from the data management with the Switch.

I was aware before official launch that the new console would not support moving save files between consoles. That was something I could steel myself against as I delved into the “data management”. I didn’t expect the movement of actual game data/installs to be so limited as well, however.

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My story... There I was, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed, at 7:00 AM in the cold in front of a Walmart. I bought myself a Switch! Woohoo! In my excitement, I had forgotten to pick up a MicroSD card while I was there (I’m a digital release kind of guy). Knowing that the Switch only had 32GB internally I knew I’d need to expand; I figured I could wait. After a few clicks on Amazon, I’d have a new MicroSD before the end of the day. I’ll download Zelda now, and move it later.

“HA!” said my fancy, new, state-of-the-art console.

Sadly, you cannot use the Switch, at all, to move data files. The only actions you can take are to delete or archive (which is a soft delete, saving your precious game saves from the axe as well). Now if I want to move Zelda to my SD card I have archive the game on my console, then redownload to the removable storage!

I haven’t tried to move files once they’re on the SD card to my PC or another SD card, but at this point I’m not expecting it to be a smooth process either.


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Evan Chambers is a fellow video game connoisseur (specializing in the Nintendo variety). He occasionally writes other articles and reviews that you can find here, and sometimes he tries to Twitter, at @EvanChambers.