Enlarge / The new OLED Switch over its predecessor.
Your Nintendo Switch is packed with valuable game save data, not to mention your precious screenshots and fascinating gameplay footage. No need to upgrade to new OLED switch, but if so, or you just need to switch from one console to another, you will need to transfer all this data. There are a couple of ways to do it.
Transferring game save data and your screenshots involves different processes, and for the latter, you will need a separate MicroSD card. Things are also very different (in a good way) if you pay for Nintendo Switch Online. Here, we break down all the details so you can follow the process that best applies to you. Here’s how to transfer your switch data.
How to transfer saved data and user profiles
Your most valuable data, all the saved data and the progress you have made in your games, are linked to the user profile that you created when you first set up your switch. It is the profile you choose every time you start a game, with a name and an avatar. All of that associated data is stored on your switch and needs to be copied to your new console.
There are two ways to do this and one of them costs money. If you subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, then this process is (much) easier.
Method 1: if you have Nintendo Switch Online
When you first register Nintendo Switch Online, your games will be automatically configured to back up data to the cloud. However, you can individually control which games are backed up, and you can manually backup the data by heading to Settings> Data Management> Save to Data Cloud.
On your new Switch, log into your Nintendo Account. You can do this during the normal setup process when you first get your Switch or by selecting an existing profile on the home page and selecting “Link Nintendo Account.” When it does, you will be able to manually download the save data for each game by heading to the aforementioned settings page. To redownload your games, head over to Nintendo eShop, tap your profile picture in the upper right, and go to Redownload.
You can keep playing on both switches if you plan to keep both. Just make sure to turn on Automatic Download of Saved Data in Settings> Data Management> Save Data to Cloud> Settings. This ensures that the saved file is always updated with the latest data no matter what switch is being used, which means you can pick up where you left off on any of your consoles.
If someone else in the house wants to play a game that you own on the old console, the Switch will need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network and you will need to unregister as the main console after the transfer, which we get to further. down.
It’s worth noting that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a special process for transferring your island from a Switch to a new system. You can read the instructions here. Additionally, developers can choose to disable cloud save game syncing, so some games like Splatoon 2 and Pokémon Sword and Shield will not transfer. If that happens, you can transfer them manually with the steps below.
Method 2: if you don’t have Nintendo Switch Online
If you don’t have a Nintendo Switch Online and don’t want to get it, you can still transfer data, but it’s a bit more annoying. You will need both Switch devices on hand, as well as an internet connection and a Nintendo account. Make sure the profile you want to transfer is logged into your Nintendo account on the switch from which you are transferring data.
Important note: No log into your Nintendo Account on the console you want to transfer data to. If you link your Nintendo Account to a profile on the new Switch, this process will not be able to merge them, so wait until you are prompted to sign in.
Once everything is ready, you can follow these steps on both the source switch you are transferring data from and the destination switch you are transferring data to:
- Go to System settings from the home screen.
- Please select Users in the menu on the left.
- Please select Transfer your username and save the data.
- Click next.
At this point, the process for each console will be different. On the old switch, choose Fountain consoleand click Continue. On the new switch, choose Target console. You can then log into the Nintendo Account that is associated with the profile you want to transfer.