Updated: How to upgrade your 3DS SD card, to 64GB and beyond

UPDATE 15th January 2015: I’ve updated this guide again to cover transferring data to a New 3DS here. Please use this link here from now on: Upgrading your 3DS SD card, your 3DS, or both.

A while back I put together this guide for migrating all your 3DS games and files from one SD card to another. It’s one of my most popular articles, and somehow (thanks to you lot for recommending it) it has become the de-facto way of doing it.

Nintendo’s published method, incidentally, mostly works, but some stuff sometimes doesn’t make the transfer, or does but is inaccessible. My method transfers and retains access to the lot.

The time has come to update this guide to include something helpful regarding SDXC cards. Nintendo only officially support SDHC cards of up to 32GB in capacity, but in fact SDXC cards work too. The main incompatibility is not with the cards themselves, but with the partition format SDXC cards use – by default, exFAT, or sometimes NTFS. Neither of these can be read by a 3DS.

Thankfully, 64GB and 128GB SDXC cards can still be formatted to 3DS-usable FAT32 format. Unfortunately, Windows 7 has made this difficult to do by not including the option on the standard disk formatting utility.

So, if you want to use a larger than 32GB card, then follow these steps carefully before transferring your 3DS data.

Prepare the card

  1. There are many ways to format a card, but the method I used involved using the free version of MiniTool Partition Wizard. Download that and install it. Other formatters will probably work – just use the same settings from step 4 below.
  2. Put your new SDXC card in your PC’s card reader, and open MiniTool, choosing Partition Wizard.
  3. Choose your card in the list of drives (be VERY careful you choose the right one!) and delete the partition using the Delete button on the toolbar.
  4. Now Create a new partition in the freed space. Make sure you choose these options: “Create As: Primary”, “File System: FAT32” and “Cluster Size: 32kb”. You’ll also want to set a drive letter otherwise it won’t show up in Windows for when you want to copy stuff to it!
  5. Click “OK” to accept these settings, and then Apply (on the toolbar) to actually commit the deed to the card.
  6. When it’s done, that’s it! Your card should now be readable by your 3DS. Go ahead – turn your 3DS off, swap your old card for the new one, and check. You may be told your 3DS is initialising the card – that’s fine. If the Data Management – 3DS Software section shows an obscene number of free blocks, you’re sorted.

Now to transfer the data…

Transferring the data

This bit is exactly the same as when transferring from standard SD/SDHC cards.

  1. Mount your old card on your computer.
  2. Create a folder on your computer and copy EVERYTHING from the card to it.
  3. While it’s doing that, put your new card in your 3DS and turn the 3DS on. It’ll initialise the card for you. *NOTE! You’ve already done this if you’ve followed the “Prepare the card” guide above!
  4. When both these have finished, mount the new card in your computer.
  5. Open the folder you made on your computer, and copy everything to the root of the new card. If you’re asked to overwrite folders, or merge folders, say “yes”.
  6. When the copying has finished, you’re almost there. Next, on the new card, open the folder called “Nintendo 3DS”. Inside there will be folder with a huge string of letters and numbers for the name – open that.
  7. Inside that folder will be two folders with long random names. One of these is the folder tied to your old card, the other is the one tied to your new card. Simply copy the contents (not the folder itself) of the old one (it’ll be the one with the larger filesize) into the other one – merging and overwriting again if necessary. *NOTE! Once you’ve confirmed everything is working, you can delete the old folder to make some space.
  8. Put the new card back in your 3DS, reboot it if necessary, and you’re away!

108 thoughts on “Updated: How to upgrade your 3DS SD card, to 64GB and beyond”

  1. aiji

    Wanted to transfer my data to a new 32 gb lexar mini sd but my card reader or my computer doesnt recognize any sd cards. Besides that the program you recomended does not seem to have a way to mount anything. ( tech noob probably my ignorance). Please help asap. I bought lexar because my 3ds xl was using one since I bought it.

    1. deKay Post Author

      Some card readers are SD only – not SDHC/XC. Perhaps yours is? That or the card (or reader) is faulty. Have you a different PC you can try?

  2. carl

    Hi, great article, a good help.

    It would be great if you have any advice on how to solve my current 3DS transfer nightmare which I am experiencing right now. It is quite complex, but i’ll try my best to explain it.

    So, I had a standard 3DS, and have had it for 4 years nearly. Lots of data; Streetpasses, Friends lists, Downloadable games and saved data was stored on it with an 8GB SDHC card.

    I was invited to the New 3DS Ambassador program, and subsequently purchased one. I done a system transfer from my OLD 3ds to my NEW one. (So from the 8GB Standard SDHC to the Micro 4GB SDHC). At first some of the data was missing, but, I followed your step 1 tutorial and managed to get all of my data onto an 8GB Micro SD which I had spare. So everything was working. I then backed up ALL of the data onto my PC.

    I started to have trouble with the 3D effect on my NEW 3DS and, it turns out it was faulty. So I had to send it back for replacement. And I requested them to transfer everything over to my new, new 3ds. However, they ignored my request and gave me a refund instead. They did however, unlink my NNID.

    So, I then purchased a New, New 3ds and linked my NNID to it. I then expected to be able to recover my old files which I had backed up on my PC by copying them back to my SD card. But, nothing seemed to show up on my New New 3DS.

    My 3DS shows that there is something on there because some blocks are being used, but it will not show or read the data. I fiddled about with the files to try to fix the issue and at one point it showed the data but was all corrupted… I don’t think the source data itself it corrupted because it all shows on the computer fine, but I believe it could be that the New 3DS is having trouble recognising the data on the SD card because of the file arrangement.

    When I load the folder on my PC, it shows 2 gibberish files above the one which says private. The first one has one file inside it and the other has 2.

    Any help at all would be amazing! 4 Years worth of data is on the line!!! :(

    1. deKay Post Author

      I think, unfortunately, you might be out of luck. I don’t think you can migrate data to a new 3DS that way – even with the same NNID.

      You could try putting a blank SD card in your new 3DS, initialising it, then transferring the data from your backup onto it into the new folders created by the initialisation as per my guide. If that doesn’t work, I don’t think there’s any hope unless Nintendo can suggest something.

      I had the same thing on my old Wii when it was replaced by Nintendo. All my games could be redownloaded, but my saves were gone forever – including my Animal Crossing one :(

      1. carl

        Okay yh, i’v tried everything, but the data is certainly lost. It’s hard to take right now, but i’ll just have to do my best to rebuild what I can :(. And sorry to here what happened to your AC file :'(

  3. Theo D

    Hey Great article, but one more tip.

    Make sure you have your SD card as Primary Partition and not Logical.

    You can do this in Partition Wizard, right click on the SD card and select “Set Partition to Primary”

    Thanks !

  4. Seven

    I’ve finally got mine working. All I needed was an sdxc reader. I had been doing it with an shed reader and it wasn’t working all the way through without corrupting. So if anyone has that problem with a 64gb or 128gb like mine, double check your reader. Got my card working and the new 3ds.but my old 3ds won’t transfer out. I seemed to be cursed with Nintendo.

  5. Chris Ruston

    I don’t know what is wrong with my process but I keep getting an error at about 15-20 complete. I’ve done all the steps correct and the card can be read in the 3ds as well. Something is happening during the copy to the new card process that won’t let me do it.

        1. Chris Ruston

          Which one, the new one or old one? When the download gets past a certain big file every time it says files corrupted on the copy. The thing is I’ve been using this card for about 2 years now and I’ve had this not copy twice now even though I formatted it and re-downloaded everything again and it’s still not working.

        2. Chris Ruston

          Thanks for all the replies. My 64 gig was faulty as it was downloading anything to it even when it was in my system. Waisted 30$ Should’ve known better when I never heard of the name before. Anyways another 40$ down but all is well now as it’s in my New Monster Hunter system working fine. Man was it a fast transfer of almost 30 gigs as well as my New card was nearly 3 times faster then the faulty one. Thanks again!

          1. Seven

            Make sure what ever your using to read the card can read sdxc cards. Even a computer with an sdxc card slot won’t read it right if it is older than the sdxc format. If it’s a micro make sure the adapter your using actually say sdxc on it. I bought a 128gb card from China and it wouldn’t work. I thought because it was a cheap $16 card. Then I bought a $100 sandisk card and it worked because the included reader was the right capacity. So just to check I stuck the China card in the new reader and it worked perfectly.

  6. dreambael

    I would also add to make sure the Partition ID is under 0x0B FAT32. I was having issues having my 3DS read the card because even after formatting to FAT32, 32kb clusters the partition ID was 0x0B NTFS. Hopefully this helps anyone who’s having issues following the guide.

  7. Char

    If I want to keep music, photos and video on my old 32gb SD card, but use my new 128GB microSD to store digital versions of games and other content from the 3DS eShop, SpotPass etc, how would I handle the transferring of files and settings and stuff?

    1. deKay Post Author

      The photos and videos are in the DCIM folder in the root of the card. I don’t know for sure where the music is kept (I don’t use that feature), but I think it’s also in the DCIM folder. Probably the best thing to do is copy everything over as per the guide, EXCEPT the DCIM folder. Or copy everything over then when you’ve checked it’s OK, delete the DCIM folder from the new card.

  8. Son23

    So, I bought a 128GB Sandisk Micro SD from best buy for my New 3DS. A legit one. I formatted the SD card to be NTFS (because I misread some directions), put it in my New 3DS and saw that it worked. All the games worked just fine with no problems other than slightly longer load times. However, I had used my old laptop with a built in SD port to format it, and because it was Vista I only got about 21.3GB out of it. So I found a SD USB Flash drive, put it on my window’s 7, and format it again to FAT32 and also got all 128GB (which is really about 119GB). So when I tried to put my save files back onto that SD card via the USB device for whatever reason I keep getting this error: “Cannot read from the source file or disk”

    I get this error no matter which OS I use (Vista, 7, or Mac), and I have done this so much that it has actually corrupted two micro SD cards. I am currently on my 3rd one. I formatted it to FAT32, but went back to 21.3GB via the built in SD port on my laptop. It is transferring now, VERY slowly (about .4GB in the past hour and a half out of 17.8GB), but it appears to be working. I also followed this method precisely (after my little NTFS mess up).

    So has anyone else had this issue with a 128GB SD card? Are my save files just corrupt? Or am I missing something here? I am starting to think maybe the USB SD Flash drive was wonky. Because using the built in USB slot seems to be working, but I can’t utilize all the memory on that OS.

  9. lostintheseasons

    I’ve followed the official steps and complete the transfer through a PC. But when I put my new micro SD card into the handheld, no games show up! my NNID has bee successfully transferred to the new system, but the games and saves are gone! And I’m not the only who who have the similar problems: http://techforums.nintendo.com/thread/38555

    There was only one thing that could’ve gone wrong.Before the transfer, I took out the original 4g micro sd card out and installed my new 32 g micro sd card. Then during the last steps of the transfer, there’s a question on the new system asking whether I have used other micro sd card and I said no…

    I still have my old SD card at hand, untouched. Is there a way to find back my savings? (I know I can redownload the games) Thanks!!

    1. Seven

      If you initialized the micro before the transfer, it will have the wrong data on it. Wipe the card, re-initialize it on the new 3ds. If you still have the data on your computer then just transfer it on the micro. Don’t forget step with the folder merging.

      1. lostintheseasons

        what does re-initialize mean… So I format the micro sd card first, copy the data from the original sd card to the micro, and then put the micro in the new 3ds? Thank you!!

          1. lostintheseasons

            I went into the Nintendo 3ds folder, inside I found three other folders, the one in the middle is the largest(13 g) with a long string of numbers. I clicked on it and went into the next level, where there’re two more folders with long string of numbers. The file size is 13 g and 73.9 m respectively. Am I getting into the right folder? Thanks!!

          2. lostintheseasons

            Just did that… And it didn’t work… is it possible that I manually change the file names so that the new system recognizes it? Thanks!

          3. Seven

            Put the empty micro in the new ds. It will say creating management file. Go to the section in the blog above and follow steps 6 and 7. Make sure you follow these steps closely. If you have to, look into the folder described above BEFORE transferring the old data on the card. Write down the last four numbers and letters. Then follow the steps described above. Take the CONTENTS of the folder NOT written down and transfer it into the one you wrote down. I hope this helps you. If not, I’m at a loss.

  10. lostintheseasons

    It still didn’t work… But later i first copied the data from the original sd card to my 32g-micro, and then copied the file names of the other micro (that one that new 3dsxl includes with itself) to my own micro. Then the miracle happens and the save data are back in the data management (I think it’s called “Extra data”) but the games are not showing.
    To test it, I inserted Person Q whose map data was kept in the sd card and the maps are back. Does this mean, if I re-download the digital games, the save data will be automatically applied to them? … Thanks!

    1. lostintheseasons

      OMG, everything is back! After I copied the folder names of the original micro to my own micro, the new system started to recognize my old data, and the save data are back. Then, I copied the folder names of my old SD card to my own micro, this time the system full recognizes it and all my games, DLC and save data are back! Thank for your help!!

  11. piplupgoku

    Hello! I’m very confused on what to do so Im gonna completely restart. I formatted the new sd card so it’s all good but on all other articles it says you should only have 2 folders Nintendo 3ds and DCIM but the old sd card also had a folder called “private” when I opened the nintendo 3ds file the first time I merged there was two folders with random numbers and when you open the 1st one there’s 3 folders with random text and numbers and when you open the second one there’s 1 folder with random text and numbers…. so I tried but it stayed empty all the games and such still weren’t showing up so I really need some help ^^”

  12. superkamio

    In step 7 under transferring the data I kept getting errors until I simply renamed the old folder to the new folder name (temporarily adding a few characters because you can’t have two folders with the same name). Delete the new folder, rename the old folder removing added letters and it worked!

  13. Weismann

    Can I use the Nintendo recommended SD Formatter? Will the outcome be the same? Another thing, can I just move a certain saved game data to another sd card?

    1. deKay Post Author

      Any formatter will do so long as it lets you format with the options I’ve mentioned. You can move just certain games, I believe, but there’s no obvious way of identifying which folder is which game!

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