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

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

  1. Martine

    One quick question…
    I just ordered this card, and I’m still not sure whether my 3DS xl will support it or not after I format it.. It just says SD, not SDXC or whatever..
    What do you guys think?? Need an answer as fast as possible. :O


  2. hac

    I am using a micro sd 64gb, and it gives me 0 open blocks when checking it….

  3. deKay

    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.

  4. deKay

    Did you format it correctly (as in, not exFAT)? Does it show up as 64GB in Windows (or OSX or whatever)? Can you put files on it in Windows/OSX/whatever?

  5. Martine

    Damn… Good point. Good thing I cancelled the order just in case. I don’t wanna pay that much money for something that may not work as it should. So, a brand like this is more reliable then I guess?


  6. hac

    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.

  7. krycekgj

    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.

  8. deKay

    About 500,000. Each megabyte is 8 blocks, meaning 524,288 blocks. However, like with most filesystems, a little is lost.

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