Can you transfer save data between switches

Transferring save game data and your screengrabs involve different processes, and for the latter, you'll 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 save data and user profiles

Your most precious data—all the save data and progress you've made in your games—is tied to the user profile you created when you first set up your Switch. It's the profile you pick each 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 over 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

Can you transfer save data between switches


Eric Ravenscraft

When you first sign up for Nintendo Switch Online, your games will automatically be set to back up data to the cloud. However, you can individually control which games get backed up, and you can manually back up data by heading to Settings > Data Management > Save Data Cloud.

On your new Switch, log in to your Nintendo account. You can either do this during the normal setup process when you first get your Switch or by selecting an existing profile from the homepage and selecting "Link Nintendo Account." When you do, you'll be able to manually download save data for each game by heading to the aforementioned settings page. To redownload your games, head to the Nintendo eShop, tap on your profile picture on the top right, and go to Redownload.

Can you transfer save data between switches
You can keep playing games on both Switches if you plan to keep both. Just make sure you toggle on Automatic Save-Data Download in Settings > Data Management > Save Data Cloud > Settings. This makes sure that the save file is always updated to the newest data no matter which Switch is being used, meaning you can pick up where you left off on any of your consoles.

If another person in the household wants to play a game you own on the older console, the Switch will need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and you'll need to deregister it as the primary console after you transfer, which we get to further below.

It's worth noting that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a special process for transferring your island from one Switch to a new system. You can read the instructions here. Also, developers can choose to disable syncing cloud game saves, so some games like Splatoon 2 and Pokémon Sword and Shield won't transfer over. If that happens, you can transfer them manually with the steps below.

Method 2: If you don’t have Nintendo Switch Online

Can you transfer save data between switches


Eric Ravenscraft

If you don't have a Nintendo Switch Online and don't want to get it, you can still transfer data over, but it's a little more annoying. You'll need both Switch devices handy, as well as an Internet connection and a Nintendo account. Make sure the profile you want to transfer is signed into your Nintendo account on the Switch you're transferring data from.

Important note: Don't sign in to 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 won't be able to merge them, so wait until you're instructed to sign in.

Once everything is ready, you can follow these steps on both the source Switch you're transferring data from and on the target Switch you're transferring data to:

  1. Go to System Settings from the home screen.
  2. Select Users from the left-hand menu.
  3. Select Transfer Your User and Save Data.
  4. Click Next.

At this point, the process for each console will diverge. On the old Switch, choose Source console and click Continue. On the new Switch, choose Target console. You'll then be able to sign into the Nintendo account that's associated with the profile you want to transfer.

When you get a new Switch console — like the new OLED Switch — you’ll have to transfer your data (user and save data) from the old device to the new one. It’s not the most intuitive process, though. In this Switch transfer save data guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of transferring your data between consoles.

Before you begin

Before you begin, there are a few steps to take so things go smoothly.

  1. Make sure both consoles are plugged into an adapter or dock and connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. Double check that they’re both updated to the newest software by going to System Settings > System > System Update.
  3. Finally, make sure any users you’ll be transferring to the new device are linked to their respective Nintendo Accounts.

On the old console

Can you transfer save data between switches
Transfer save data from this menuImage: Nintendo via Polygon

From the Home Screen, select System Settings > Users > Transfer Your User Data.

Can you transfer save data between switches
Image: Nintendo via Polygon

You’ll get a couple warning screens, and then you’ll have to choose whether this is the Source (old) or the Target (new) console. Choose Source.

Next, you’ll have to choose which user to transfer.

On the new console

From the Home Screen, select System Settings > Users > Transfer Your User Data.

Again, you’ll get a couple warning screens, and then you’ll have to choose whether this is the Source (old) or the Target (new) console.

Choose Target.

Can you transfer save data between switches
Image: Nintendo via Polygon

You’ll be asked to sign into the Nintendo Account for the user you’re transferring. You can sign in manually or by scanning a QR code on a smart device.

On the old console

Leave the two devices (relatively) near each other. When the Source console finds the Target console, hit Transfer.

Now you just have to wait out the process. When it’s done, hit End and enjoy your new console.

On the new console

The Transfer process moves your account and your saved game data between the consoles, but it doesn’t move the games themselves. You’ll still need to head to the eShop and redownload them.

The Nintendo Switch OLED Model review

It’s not the Switch Pro, but it is a step in the right direction.


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Can data be transferred between switches?

If you have a new console that you intend to use instead of your old console, you can simultaneously transfer (move) your user and save data to the new console. *With Nintendo Switch Family, you can transfer between each console types.

Can you transfer save data between switch profiles?

Transferring user information and save data allows you to move your user profile along with all its associated save data and Nintendo eShop purchases from one Nintendo Switch system to another. Data is moved one user at a time.

Can you have the same save data on two switches?

For the most convenient way of syncing game saves across two Switches, you'll need to be subscribed to Nintendo's online service and have cloud saves enabled.

How do I transfer data from one switch to another without losing data?

From the HOME Menu, select System Settings, then Data Management, and then Transfer Your Save Data. Select Receive Save Data and place both systems near each other.