The Nintendo Switch HOME Menu

How to Free Up Storage Space on Your Nintendo Switch

It’s been almost six years since the Nintendo Switch debuted, which means it’s likely you’ve amassed quite the collection of games since it released.

Regardless of your preferences, it’s likely some of that collection is digital, which purchases can fill your storage quickly. The Nintendo Switch has a meager 32-64 gigabytes of internal memory, which leads many to find an external storage solution.

Nintendo has not made any official announcement on when its next console will release so, for the time being, Switch players will continue exhausting their storage with digital titles.

There are many games that are minimal in size, costing a gigabyte or less in storage. On the flip side, there are many games that are much larger than this file size.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is Nintendo’s largest game, reaching just over 18 gigabytes in size. This beats the old record of 14.4 gigabytes for Breath of the Wild.

While this is the case for Nintendo-made titles, third party isn’t so kind. Games like Mortal Kombat 11 (32.5 GB), The Witcher 3 (31.5 GB), and NBA 2K23 (53.7 GB) can all eat up a large chunk of your storage.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

There are plenty of ways to maximize your Switch storage space, both internally and externally, ensuring you have all the room you need to play your favorite games.

Upgrading the Nintendo Switch Memory Card

Image Credit: Nintendo Life

This is probably the easiest way to garner some more space. The Switch does not support external hard drives or USB drives so an SD Memory Card is your best bet.

Odds are you have one already in your Switch so you just need to upgrade your memory card to a larger option. The process of doing this is easy and only requires a computer along with your old and new memory cards.

Memory card sizes range and the best fit depends on how much you plan to use a digital library. Popular storage sizes include 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 terabyte.

Before selecting a memory card, be sure the specs match the requirements for the Switch. Nintendo has official memory cards that allow you some peace of mind though they are more expensive.

If you opt for an unofficial option, be sure to confirm that the card will work with the Switch and won’t corrupt any files. Don’t be afraid to do further research when looking for a the best memory card option for you.

Archive Any Unused Game in Your Nintendo Switch Memory

Image Credit: Nintendo

If you don’t want to upgrade your memory card, archiving is another great option.

When you archive any downloaded software, you delete it from your system. Once archived, an icon is left behind on the HOME menu that allows you to redownload the software quickly when you’re ready.

This can be a great option if you have a massive backlog and want to prioritize games. In order to do this, follow these steps:

  • Via Data Management:
    • Click System Setting > Data Management
    • Click Manage Software and select the software title you want to archive. Click Archive Software, then Archive
    • Alternatively, click Quick Archive after selecting Data Management to choose multiple titles at once to archive. Once selected, click Archive Data and then Archive.
  • Via Software Options Menu:
    • Select the software icon on the HOME menu
    • Click Options in the bottom-right of the screen or hit the + or – buttons on your Joy-Cons. This will open the Software Options Menu.
    • Click Manage Software and then Archive Software

Both paths will free up your storage space but ensure you can still access your unplayed titles. Archiving will not affect your save data, meaning once you redownload, you are free to pick up where you left off.

Conduct Audit and Reorganization of your Nintendo Switch Memory

Image Credit: Nintendo

If you have a memory card in your Switch, odds are neither side is completely full. Game files don’t always fit perfectly between the two memory sources thus leaving a smidgen of memory in either.

If you have the room to do it, this may provide you a great chance to move your software between your system and card storage. To do this, you’ll need enough room to move any file to the desired location as files will not trade spots.

To access this option:

  • Click System Settings > Data Management > Move Data Between System/microSD Card.
  • This will open up two options: Move to microSD Card and Move to System Memory
  • Clicking either shows you what data in in each respective storage.
  • From either spot, select which software you want to move to the opposite location.
  • Granted there is enough room to receive it, the software should change locations.

This process allows you to condense files into one location or move a larger one to your memory card while leaving your smaller files on the system memory.

While this won’t free up a ton of space, it will help you maximize your storage by condensing and organizing.

Review Your Nintendo Switch Collection and Avoid Any Duplicates

Image Credit: Dan Schleusser (via Unsplash)

In a similar vein to the previous step, it may be beneficial to reevaluate your Switch library for any duplicates.

Save data is linked to the system memory and not the individual game. This means you can access the same save date regardless of if you play on a digital or a physical copy.

With this in mind, it could be beneficial to delete any digital duplicates if you have the game both digitally and physically.

This likely may not apply to a majority of players, but over a six-year span, there’s a chance you may have bought a game digitally and eventually bought a physical copy down the road.

Review Nintendo Switch Save Data and Screenshots

Image Credit: Nintendo

Every game you play on your Nintendo Switch will create save data. It’s important to note this includes any demos you have downloaded.

A great way to free up space is to review your save data and delete any unwanted files. Odds are you likely accumulated several rounds of demo data that you no longer need.

It’s important to note that save data only lives within your system memory and not your memory card. Deleting save data will only free up space on your system memory.

Save data is relatively small and typically stays beneath 100 megabytes. That said, there are plenty of games that may push upwards of 1 GB in storage.

To access your save data:

  • Click System Settings > Data Management > Delete Save Data
  • This will open up a list of save data along with the size of each one. Select a software title to see more details.
  • Once selected, you delete save date for any individual user on the switch or delete all save data for the game. Select your choice.
  • This will open a menu with a warning saying “deleted data cannot be recovered. Delete this data?” If you agree, select Delete Save Data.

Similarly, any screenshots and videos you may have can also eat up some storage. Deleting any screenshots or videos can help free up a bit of space.

To access your screenshots and videos:

  • Click System Settings > Data Management > Manage Screenshots and Videos
  • In this screen, you can set a default location for saving screenshots and videos, copy or delete your media, manage screenshots and videos to view what you have saved.
  • If you plan to delete:
    • Select either System Memory or microSD Card to delete or copy media in either storage.
    • To delete, select Delete All Screenshots and Videos in System Memory/microSD Card
    • To copy to a new location, select Copy All Screenshots and Videos to microSD Card/ System Memory.
  • If you plan to back up any screenshots or videos, select Copy to a Computer via USB Connection and follow the prompts once you connect your Switch to a computer.

These two options likely won’t free up a ton of extra space but can give you some wiggle room for better organizing your software between a memory card and system memory.

In Conclusion

Image Credit: Enrique Vidal Flores (via Unsplash)

The size of games is likely to keep growing. Switch users do benefit from overall smaller game sizes compared to PlayStation and Xbox, but that brings smaller storage solutions.

These steps should hopefully help you free up space and continue to expand your digital library.

This is an exciting time to be a Switch owner so make sure you have the free space to take advantage of any upcoming titles.

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