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

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!


Filed under games, howto

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

  1. Pingback: How to upgrade your Nintendo 3DS SD card | deKay's Blog

  2. ~phil

    Thank you! Great guide.

  3. Taiyz

    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!

  4. OMG I thank you, I was starting to think my SD card was broken on my 3DS

  5. shanky887614

    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

  6. deKay

    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.

  7. Sjivje

    You sir, are a hero.
    Thank you SO much.

  8. Thanks, I’m glad to know bigger cards can work.

  9. Thanks – just followed this to the letter and have a nice empty 64 GB card to fill with games I will never have the time to play

  10. Nikotenshi

    I have windows 7 and it lets me format FAT32 just fine what version are you running?

  11. Malcolm Butler

    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.

  12. It worked. Thanks for the help.

  13. I had a problem. I added more videos but now it won’t go beyond 24GB. I think I must’ve done something wrong.

  14. malcolm Butler

    Have win 8. So I had to download a program to format the card but it still doesn’t want to transfer all of the data.

  15. deKay

    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.

  16. James

    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.

  17. Jeremy

    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!!!

  18. Jeremy

    Woops never mind is does say set as primary! Lol…I need to learn to read myself!

  19. Seven

    just to make sure, even with the fat32 format, I will still have the full 64 or 128gb’s available to me?

  20. do you think this will work

  21. Hounds of Justice

    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.

  22. deKay

    Probably not. Most cards of 32GB or less won’t be using exFAT.

  23. God

    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?

  24. deKay

    That has worked for others, yes.

  25. Thanks a ton, a better guide than nintendo had!

  26. DS

    Stays at pending…

  27. Ace

    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?

  28. Peter Dark

    Worked great. Thanks for writing this up and updating it!!!

  29. Hyperborean

    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!

  30. Steven Boutilier

    You saved my ass. I love you! I thought I was out 100 bucks when I bought my 64 gb card. Thanks so much for the lovely guide :)

  31. +1 to this article! Everything worked exactly as described, made this process ENTIRELY painless. Thank you SO MUCH!

  32. Kevin A King

    I follow directions and got bad disk after i was complete. Any ideas?

  33. Thank you for this lovely guide. I should have upgraded to a higher-capacity SD card a while ago, but I’m pleased that your instructions made the process easy to complete.

  34. OMA

    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

  35. OMA

    Also, if you’re confident the card is good, you can add /Q to the above command to make a quick format

  36. Wat Didwedo

    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

  37. Ace

    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!!!

  38. deKay

    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.

  39. Jerry

    Will the reformatting to Fat32 work on a 64GB or 128GB micro SD card too?

  40. Ace

    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.

  41. oma2k

    You’re probably better off buying a new SD card. They’re dirt cheap by now. Surely you can buy one of these:


  42. deKay

    It should, yes. There’s no real difference between SD and MicroSD apart from physical size.

  43. I recommend formatting FAT 32 with the larger 64kb cluster. The larger cluster size improves read performance, making these larger cards noticeably faster in your N3DS or 3DS.

  44. Seven

    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?

  45. deKay

    It does sound like a faulty card. Have you something you can do a disk check on it with?

  46. Seven

    Tried a disk check and defrag. Some bad spots fixed but, in the still a no go. I guess I’ll try replacing the card.

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