The Nintendo Switch doesn´t have enough storage capacity. With only 32 Gb of internal memory (unless you have an OLED model), you will find it hard to install more than three or four full-fledged games. Just downloading Smash Ultimate, Animal Crossing, and Breath of the Wild would pretty much fill all of your internal storage.
To improve your data capacity and install more games, you have to get yourself an external SD memory card, but what are they?
What is an SD card?
An SD (Secure Digital) card, is a small card that acts as an external memory drive for a device, in this case, a Nintendo Switch. Unlike external hard drives and USB sticks, they go inside the machine itself and don´t need extra space.
This makes them quite convenient to install and carry around because, once they are installed in place, can forget about them until you want to transfer your data somewhere else.
Due to their convenience and ease of use, SD cards have become quite popular and are used in many types of machines, from smartphones to cameras to video game consoles. This means that there are a lot of different types of SD cards in circulation today for many devices. So it begs the question...
Which type of SD card does the Nintendo Switch use?
The Nintendo Switch uses Micro SD cards. To be more exact, it uses microSD cards, microSDHC cards, and microSDXC cards. The difference between these three kinds of cards is mostly storage capacity, most people won´t be able to tell them apart, and you don´t have any reason to do so either.
If you buy something that´s called a micro SD card, then it will fit inside your console with no issues.
How do you install Micro SD cards to your Switch?
Before starting, remember that the Switch needs to be turned off before inserting a card, not just in sleep mode. This means holding the power button for five seconds and then selecting the option to completely turn off the console.
Micros SD cards are small, measuring 11x15 mm, allowing them to fit inside your Switch without any issue. The slot for the SD card is located on the back of your Switch, or if you have a Switch Lite, at the bottom of the console, next to the thumbstick.
To install them, put your fingernail under the case and pop it open. You should see a small slot where the card will fit. Gently push the card into the slot and click it into place. Once secured, it should not be possible for it to fall off.
Which SD cards can you buy for your Switch?
The truth is, any micro SD card will do, the only real difference is the storage capacity. You might see a few cards advertised specifically as Nintendo Switch cards, but they work just like the rest, the only difference is the artwork they have.
You can get 32, 64, 128, 256, and 512 Gb cards. So, which one should you get? That depends on how many games are you going to play.
Breath of the Wild, Mario Oddysey, Animal Crossing, Smash Bros Ultimate, and Mario Kart 8 all together weight a bit more than 45Gb. If you only want to install the Switch's best sellers, a 64 Gb card will do nicely, but will not leave you with much room for other games.
In light of that, I recommend a 128 Gb card, so that you can install all the popular games and then some. If you hate physical cartridges and never want to buy one ever again, the 256 Gb card is the one for you.
The big card, the one that can store 512 Gb, is only recommended for people who buy games in bulk and have pretty much every new release for the Switch. Regular users will have little need for so much storage.
Obviously, the more expensive the card the more it will cost, but even so, they are among the Switch´s cheapest accessories.
Now, let´s assume that you already have a card that´s a size too small for your needs and so you want to buy another, bigger one. In that case, can you transfer games between the cards? Yes, you can.
How to transfer games among SD cards and from the Nintendo Switch.
It is possible to copy and paste the data on your cards, including the game, to another card, and vice-versa. This lets you transfer games between cards and form your Switch to your card.
For starters, you can transfer games from the Switch to an SD card, but only in a roundabout way, there is no direct copy and paste solution.
To do so, you need to open the data management menu on your Switch and select the game you want to transfer. "Archive" (ie delete) the title you want to transfer and go back to the main menu. Once there, select the game you just archived and the console will prompt you to download it again. This time, it will download the game automatically to your SD card (assuming you have one with enough free memory).
Transferring data between SD cards is simpler. All you have to do is copy and paste the games between the two cards. Of course, you can´t do that with the card inside your Switch.
To make the transfer you need to plug the cards to a compatible computer. Most laptops have SD card readers, but Micro SD cards are too small to fit, so you will need to buy one of these adapters before plugging them in. The way these adapters work is quite simple, just put the Micro SDcard inside and then plug it to your laptop.
Unfortunately, a lot of desktop PC can´t read any kind of SD cards, so you have to take it one step further and buy one of these other adapters. They work much the same as the other ones but have a USB port that lets them connect directly to the computer.
Do remember that, in Nintendo´s own words: "Software downloaded to a microSD card on one system will not be playable on a different system." So you can´t share games by copying them on your friend's SD cards. Not only will the games not work, but doing so is technically piracy and can get you banned from Nintendo´s online service.
If you are looking for games to play with your newfound storage capacity, why don´t you take a look at our list of Nintendo Switch games with gyro controls?