System transfer: New3DS misery

For almost 10 years now I have gamed on every version of the DS that has been released. And every time I had no trouble doing the things that needed to be done to start using the device. Making use of the nice photo library in the DSi like a slide show, importing songs to its SD card (even though they had to be in iTunes format, which for me was difficult at the time). Getting the 3DS ready for first use and upgrading the SD card, copying the contents to a bigger card (because I often download the games from the eShop). Transferring my 3DS things to the larger 3DS XL. So I think I can safely say I’ve got some experience. Enter the New3DS that I bought in the US to replace my current American XL.

I waited till I was home last week to do the transfer to have good wifi, bought a new 32gb Micro SD to replace the 4gb that was in the device and even checked beforehand which SD brand and make Nintendo advised, just to be sure. I read up on the transfer guide on both IGN and NintendoLife, so I think I can safely say I was prepared for the task. Imagine my panic then, when I had done all the necessary steps, turned on the New3DS only to see a home-screen that was mostly empty! My MiiPlaza data had made it just fine, but all other downloaded games plus it’s save data wasn’t there! Horror of horrors, as you fellow gamers will no doubt understand.

New3DS XL, regiolocked, micro SDFeverishly I thought back to the steps that I’d done, and the only thing I could think of was that I had thought to be smart, and had replaced the 4gb Micro SD card with the 32gb Micro SD card before the transfer process. I had done that because I’d read  that it was notoriously difficult to unscrew the back of the device to get to the Micro SD, so I thought I might as well copy the content of the old SD card to the new Micro card and put it in the New3DS. That way I wouldn’t have to pry it loose twice. I tried copying the data on the PC again, but to no avail. I even called Nintendo and told them the problem, but they didn’t have an answer either. We brainstormed and came up with trying to connect the New3DS to the home network of my PC, to see if I could move the data that way. Or else I would have to wait 7 days to do another system transfer, back to the old XL and hope the data would be there. Can you believe I went to bed feeling awful, thinking of the 20+ games who’s progress of hundreds of hours I had possibly lost!

In the past week I did some research online, and found that you can’t transfer back from the New3DS to the older model. And my home network on the PC didn’t detect the New3DS at all. So, my friends, I was at a loss. Until I put my cry for help in the forum of NintendoLife. And my cry was answered: a friendly fellow gamer pointed me toward the fact that my new Micro SD Card needed to be formatted for it to work! I looked on the Nintendo site for the formatting program they recommended, formatted the 32 gb Micro SD card, copied the gaming content é voila: all my data was there!!!

Stressful transfer, transfer back to 3DS, losing save dataMy oh my, what a relief! And what a good thing that there are people out there that really know their way around!! I checked back to the instructions NintendoLife and IGN gave, but saw nothing about formatting. It was on the website of Nintendo along with the recommended micro SD cards, but I recalled that the guy at Nintendo didn’t know either and felt a bit better, knowing that it maybe I hadn’t been as careless in not knowing as I thought I was.

If you still have a system transfer ahead, I think this instruction on NintendoLife is still the best, but be sure to format if you upgrade your micro SD (instruction here on the Nintendo site)!


  1. I should have went there then. I did a system transfer from the new 3ds xl red to the black one but my files got corrupt. I called Nintendo and they helped me get my games back but my friend code was changed. They told me it could happen doing a system transfer. I will stick with the new nintendo 3ds xl black and not get another color.

    1. I can totally understand Linda that you don’t want to go through all of that again. I can tell you that I had real heartache for my 20+ save files! Hundreds of hours of playing. Maybe I should rethink downloading everything!

    1. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of gaming, New Leaf, Harvest Moon, Rune Factory and some 20 more. For a week I had the illusion to solve it after the 7 days of not being able to transfer by transferring back. I couldn’t bear to look at my new device, so I focussed on my Vita, lol.

  2. It’s amazing how the fanbase can often be more helpful than the customer service department of the actual company. Gamers helping gamers, I love it!

  3. System transfers on the 3DS are pretty scary. Mainly, it just takes _forever_, especially if you have more than a couple digital titles, and in that time you’re sweating it out, hoping nothing breaks down in the process. As a side note, I despise the fact that I can only use my digital purchases on a single device. I think that’s one of my main pet peeves with digital copies, but that’s a topic for another day!

    Glad you were able to get your purchases restored – nothing worse than being in that limbo, wondering if your stuff is lost forever! That Nintendo Life article you referenced is also what I went off last month when I transferred from my New XL to a New 3DS. Worked like a charm (although took like an hour!)

    1. I was on tenterhooks during the entire process! What a relief that all was okay. I had 32gb full of downloaded games and gameplay. What a nightmare that would be. I couldn’t even imagine loading for instance my New Leaf which has many, many hours of work in it!

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