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!

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

  1. Straightforward and flawless guide. I was a bit worried about going with an SDXC card, but you got me through the process; didn’t lose a thing. Thanks a million!

  2. guys, use diskpart on the commanline in windows its quite easy

    usually you get more options by. rightclicking computer/mycomputer

    then manage

    then diskmanagement

    right-click on device then format

    if all else fails diskpart should work perfectly

    1. The problem with going into disk management is that in Windows 7/8/2008R2/2012 (some versions of them, at least) you can’t format partitions as FAT32. The option simply isn’t there. And sure, diskpart will do it, but not everyone can cope with some scary looking command line options (where it’s surprisingly easy to choose the wrong drive). I did mention other formatting tools would work, but the one I suggested was free and simple.

  3. I just tried to do this but it still doesn’t work for me. The only difference is that I’m using a micro sd with adaptor rather than a sd card. I can transfer all of the data and it seems to work but I can’t download Bravely Default. I keep getting a error message as soon as the download reaches 100%. The error message is 07-2999.

  4. People who are not able to use the full 64GB (or whatever the capacity is) of your card – you may have a duff card.

    @Nikotenshi – Win7 can format FAT32, but not on the right-click drive, Format… menu. You have to do it via the command line or the Disk Management MMC.

  5. Excellent instructions on a topic that vexes many Windows users on formatting a 64 GB or greater card to fat32. One thing should be noticed is that it can take quite a while to do the file movements if you have a mostly full 32 GB card and moving to a larger 64 GB card or larger since you copy and paste 3 times, Once from old card to computer, second from computer to new card, third from old folder inside card to new folder inside card.

    I wonder if just swapping the file names would eliminate that last step?

    Anyway I just got a second 3DS, with it being the 3DS XL version. I just hope that the file transfer to the newer machine won’t result in having to redownload all of my games and simply swapping in a card with the games on it will work.

  6. Just did this! Make sure you read all of the instructions before you attempt this otherwise you might mess up like I did. I didn’t lose any data just had to format and copy stuff a couple of times. The only thing that I didn’t notice in the guide was, when using the recommended formatting software I had to set the formatting as “primary disk”. Other than that this guide is spot on and amazing!!!

  7. Hi, am I correct to say that formatting new micro SD is only for 64GB & above? I have a 32GB, do I need to format it before usage.

  8. hi, i went to that folder with all the letters numbers and stuff, and there were 3 folders instead of 2…do i just copy the stuff from the folders into the empty folder?

  9. I have a question that I can’t seem to find the answer to. I know that you can copy data from one SD card to a new, blank one; but is it possible to transfer specific 3DS data, like a game title or backup saves, to an sd card that already has 3DS content on it?

    1. Theoretically, yes. Not sure how to actually merge title information from two profiles (you could probably find information with google), or how to merge backups effectively, but moving backups from one profile to another is kinda easy (as I learned recently, when I had to transfer them due to a glitch). So, assuming that all of the profiles were made on the same system (or any system that its data was moved to by System Transfer), but on different cards, and you’re transferring between profiles via PC…

      First, follow these three steps:
      1) Back up your SD card to your hard drive, in an easy-to-find location, without actually modifying any of the files or folders in the “Nintendo 3DS” folder.
      2) Make sure your SD is backed up. If not, return to step 1.
      3) If you skipped steps 1 and 2, punch yourself in the face and return to step 1.
      Yes, backing up is really that important. You’re going to have to muck about with the 3DS’ SD card file system AND some of the system data, after all.

      Backups are stored in the folder “Nintendo 3DS\\\backup”, where ID0 and ID1 are the 16-byte hexadecimal folder names (the two-layers-deep gibberish ones that hold your actual stuff). The save-data backup database is in one or more of the files in “Nintendo 3DS\\\extdata\00000000\00000210\00000000”, but I’m not sure which [folder 00000210 is for System Settings extra data for North American systems; note that if you have a Japanese system the folder is “00000200”, and if you have a European system the folder is “00000220”]. So, to transfer your backups from one profile to another, you copy the contents of the “backup” folder into the new profile’s “backup” folder, and then overwrite the new profile’s “00000210” folder with the one from the old profile. This should let you see your backups on the new card, I believe.

      Now, I’m not sure if this will work for transferring backups from one system to a different system, or if it’ll work if you do a system format and try to restore backups. I’m also not sure if it’s possible to merge backup folders from two different profiles into a single one, although there MIGHT be a way to do so (assuming that the backups are all for different games, AND you have a total of 30 backups or less). If you put a new card in your 3DS (or move all the data off of one card, format it, and put it in the 3DS), let it make a profile, and then immediately turn the system off, you might be able to copy the backups from one old profile onto the new one, then rename the backup folders from the other old profile to continue where the first profile’s left off [see below], then copy them onto it as well. Then, put the card into the system, and access the save-data backup tool in the settings menu. Hopefully, since there’s no backup database, it’ll just check the folders themselves and create the database from scratch. [Note that I’m not sure whether or not this would work. If you have two saves for the same game, I’m not sure what it’ll do. There is a possibility that this could cause damage to your system. You have been warned.]

      [Note that backups are numbered in zero-indexed hexadecimal, so instead of being 001 to 030, the folder names are: 000, 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 00a, 00b, 00c, 00d, 00e, 00f, 010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019, 01a, 01b, 01c, 01d. Inside the individual backup folders, there’s a folder with the game’s ID code, and the save file is inside it.]

      So… if you’re just working with multiple profiles for the same system, it SHOULD be safe to move the backups from one profile to the other. Anything other than that could very easily be dangerous, so be careful.

  10. Awesome guide!
    I did not want to install some unneeded “bloated software suite” just to partition a SD card, so I first tried Disk Management, but as you said it does not allow you to format as FAT32. (I am using Windows Seven Pro SP1 btw) Then I bit into the sour apple and tried the diskpart program. I carefully read through the commands and workings of it to be sure not to break my system. But I forgot to turn on the QUICK command, to get a fast partition, so I had to wait around an hour for my 64 GB card to be formated.

    When it was done the diskpart program responded with an error message telling me that the volume was too big! Could it not at least have told be that before it started the format process! After some more research it turns out that the diskpart utility is from the Windows 2000/XP days and for some unknown reason it does not allow you to format a FAT32 partition larger than 32 GB. Windows 98 apparently does but my guess is that not that many people have a machine with that OS around anymore.

    I read a little more about partition programs on a site where I trust the people are tech-savvy and saw MiniTool Partition Wizard getting recommended there as well and decided that it must be a good program. So now I am downloading it and would recommend anyone else with a card larger than 32 GB to do the same, unless you already have a non-Microsoft partition program installed on your system.

    Thanks for the guide Dekay!

  11. Thanks a lot for the guide. About the formatting, maybe you could have provided instructions for command line. It’s not that hard opening a command prompt window and typing:

    format x: /FS:FAT32

    Much easier in fact than going through the installation of third party software

  12. Thanks! I recently bought an sdxc 32GB micro sd with adapter because I needed to upgrade from the original 4GB and wanted something I can later use in the New 3DS when it comes out. The transfer from one card to the other didn’t work at first, not showing purchased games or content, but following this guide, it now works perfectly. Not sure exactly which step fixed the problem, but really pleased! Cheers

  13. Oh, sure, DON’T answer my question…

    Look, I’m running out of free space on my main SD card, and all my other SD cards already have content on them. I’m not about to delete all my save data, and I’m not planning on spending money on a new SD card. And since I don’t have any WiFi at my house, I can’t simply redownload games whenever I want. So I would really appreciate it if someone could PLEASE answer my question!!!

  14. My answer is – I don’t know. If the other SD card was set up by the same 3DS then I’d expect you *can* copy selected stuff, yes. The problem is finding out what files are for which title, as they’re not helpfully or obviously named.

  15. Ah, OK, thank you. I’m sorry for going off like that, I’m just getting frustrated because Nintendo keeps updating the 3DS, and that’s taking up room on my SD card, and it’s getting difficult to manage everything on it.

  16. I’ve done this before with a 128GBP sdxc and it worked perfect. Tried to do it again with a 128GBP micro and the internal folder was a few letters with a bunch of zeros at the end. I did everything right but it told me the files were all corrupted. I put it back. On the old card and it worked fine. Do you think it was the card? Fyi that card is now in my phone which only goes up to 32gbs. Should I try with a new card or what?

    1. As long as it is actually 128GB and of decent quality, it should be fine. My concern would be that it reports as 128GB but isn’t – quite a common issue with no-brand and fake Chinese SD cards. I had a fake Sandisk card from Amazon once which was supposed to be 8GB and reported as such, but if you tried to put more than 2GB on it, it corrupted.

  17. To people trying to upgrade to a 64gb Micro sdxc card: I had a lot of trouble transferring 25gb of data to the micro sdxc card and kept getting corrupt file errors. I found the solution by deleting most of my larger games and backing up the save data. Then I did the file transfer at about 3gb and never ran into the errors. You then have to redownload all your games from the eshop. Its successful so far, but for me it was very important to not have any transfer errors. Even if you “retry” a certain corrupt file and the transfer goes fine, I found it never quite worked right unless the transfer went completely smooth.

  18. Hi! Thank you so much for the walkthrough…
    I’m using a 64Gb SDXC card (by the way, it’s a Sandisk bought from Amazon… I hope I didn’t get ripped off) and after following your method, it works like a charm, so far. My question is, on step 6 of “Prepare the Card” when you say “obscene amount of free blocks”… what number are we talking about? Ballpark for a 64Gb card straight out of the package.

  19. 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.

  20. 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. 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. 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 :'(

  21. 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 !

  22. 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.

  23. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  28. 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. 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!!

  29. 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 ^^”

  30. 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!

  31. 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. 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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