News Article

Guide: 3DS XL System Transfer

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Those Pikmin have a lot of heavy lifting

With 3DS XL hitting Europe and Japan on 28th July, there'll be a number of 3DS owners that decide to take the plunge. With that in mind you'll need to make sure that you transfer your system account and data, otherwise a lot of saves and costly downloads will disappear — and no-one wants that.

Before we give you the lengthy Nintendo details, here are the key steps:

  • Before initiating a transfer from your old 3DS to the XL, copy the entire contents of your SD card onto a computer, as backup.
  • On each system click into your System Settings, tap Other Settings, navigate to page three and select System Transfer. This needs an internet connection for both systems; full details and a video from Nintendo are below.
  • As the video at the end of this article explains, you should be prompted to put your original SD card in the XL after the transfer, with more instructions to then follow. If you then want to upgrade from a 2GB card to 4GB after the process, copy the 2GB contents to your computer and transfer them to the 4GB card.
  • Some retailers, such as GAME in the UK, are allowing buyers to take the XL home to transfer, receiving the trade-in offer rates if the 3DS is taken in within 24 hours of the purchase. If trading in check with your retailer of choice, and ensure that any in-store system updates are completed properly.

There you have it, and below is the official Nintendo information that was provided when the system transfer update first arrived.

  • Once a transfer has been performed, it cannot be undone.
  • When performing a transfer, the data on the target system will be overwritten with that of the source system. When the transfer completes, the System Memory of the source system will be formatted, deleting all data.

Note: Your System Settings configuration and any stored credit card information will not be transferred. These will be deleted.

When overwriting data on the target system:

  • Time-limited add-on content and add-on content with a limited number of uses purchased on the target system will be lost.
  • Any software/add-on content present on the target system will be replaced with that of the source system, and the original target system data will no longer be usable.

Note: Any software and add-on content originally purchased/downloaded on the source system will be usable with the target system.

  • SD Cards containing data created on the source system will be immediately usable with the target system after the transfer. Data created by the target system on SD Cards will no longer be usable.

Note: Nintendo 3DS Sound recordings and Nintendo 3DS Camera videos and photos will not be deleted and can continue to be used. Nintendo 3DS download software purchased on or downloaded to the target system before performing the transfer can be redownloaded to that system from the Nintendo eShop after the transfer.

  • The Nintendo eShop balance of the source system will be combined with that of the target system.

Note: The transfer will not be able to be performed if the combined balance would exceed the maximum balance allowed in Nintendo eShop.

  • There is a limit on the number of times that transfers can be performed. A system cannot participate in a transfer once this number is reached. The number of transfers remaining is displayed whenever you start performing a transfer.

Note: A transfer can only be performed once in a 7-day interval.

  • Any pre-installed Nintendo 3DS download software will be transferred from the source system to the target system. However if you delete your Nintendo eShop account activity on the target system after the transfer, you will no longer be able to redownload this software to that system from Nintendo eShop.
  • You may only use the System Transfer feature with systems you own.
  • You must connect to the internet in order to perform a transfer. The Nintendo 3DS Service User Agreement and Privacy Policy apply when performing a transfer.
  • The region settings of both systems must match in order to perform a transfer.
  • Data may be lost if the system runs out of power or is turned off, or if wireless communication is disabled, during the transfer. Check the battery status and signal strength icons before starting the transfer.

If you want a nice colourful chart detailing what's automatically transferred then click on the gallery image below, and the following Nintendo video provides a useful summary. If you want the full low-down on the system itself, meanwhile, check out our 3DS XL hardware review.

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User Comments (63)

zdyoshikpl

#1

zdyoshikpl said:

So I have an 8gb sd card in my current 3DS. When I transfer its contents to the xl will I have to take out the 4gb one from the XL and transfer with no SD card inside so I can move the sd card over when I'm done? Basically what I'm asking is what did the guy do in the video when he moved the SD card from one system to another. Also aren't you supposed to turn off the system when you remove the SD card?

ThomasBW84Admin

#2

ThomasBW84 said:

@zdyoshikpl The source system will need an SD card in, so you may have to clear space on the original so that it's got less than 4GB, transfer, then switch the bigger card into the XL after the transfers are all finished. Your account info is part of the transfer, so you can re-download any games you deleted from the eShop.

I may have to do something similar myself, it's just one of those things.

EDIT: I was talking nonsense in this comment, as the original SD card is put into the XL as part of the system transfer process (see steps in article and video above)

Flowerlark

#3

Flowerlark said:

Oh, sweet, we won't lose our save data, then? 'Cause that was a major pain when I transferred my DSiWare over to the 3DS. That's it, I'm sold on the XL. The only thing holding me back was the prospect of losing hundreds of hours of save data. But since that's not a problem, I'm going to get one. Definitely need those bigger screens so I don't ruin my already bad eyes. I also need to purchase a second 8GB SD card because I don't feel like deleting things. I can find those super cheap, anyhow. :)

BJQ1972

#4

BJQ1972 said:

@ThomasBW84 I got the impression from the video that there's no need to worry about what size SD card you are moving from - the 3DS transfer just seems to transfer shop info etc, and then moving your SD card from 3DS to XL completes the transfer.

ThomasBW84Admin

#6

ThomasBW84 said:

With regards to the step we added about switching SD card content to keep your photos etc, I'm going to double check that's right and update the article once I know. For now, our instructions re-iterate the process from Nintendo's video, meaning some photos etc on the SD card, as per the diagram in the gallery, won't transfer. I'll update soon, but the process of changing to the bigger 4GB card from a 2GB original is quite simple, as the article and video show.

EDIT: I've found some info that states that the photos, video and sound from the original 3DS DO transfer in full to the new system. It seems the wording and the big red cross in the Nintendo diagram confused me, as it was referring to the target system losing that content in place of the equivalents from the source system. With a brand new XL (or standard 3DS), that's clearly not an issue.

ImDiggerDan

#7

ImDiggerDan said:

I would advise this additional first step:
Use the 3DS to move any DSiWare to the SD Card first.

This will prevent the system transfer process re-downloading them again which takes ages and also may well eat up the data allowance for those planning to do it over a mobile connection.

You could delete them and re-download them later, but this will cause you to lose any saved games.

TheHunter

#8

TheHunter said:

Is this only 3DS to XL, or would it work for 3DS to 3DS? I don't intend to get an XL but my 3DS's A button hardly works anymore and I do fancy the new purple version.

ArcanaXVI

#10

ArcanaXVI said:

I seem to remember reading at some point that Ambassador software could be transferred, but not re-downloaded on the new system if it was ever deleted. Is there still (or was there ever) any truth to this?

tiger443

#11

tiger443 said:

I had one Question concerning about the system transfer, can we easily transfer all the data from the 2gb sd card on the computer and copy everything to the 4gb sd card using only an sd card reader or a PC that has an sd card slot?

ThomasBW84Admin

#12

ThomasBW84 said:

@ArcanaXVI Ambassador games and status are transferred, like other downloadable software, and this link also clarifies that photos, videos and sounds are also transferred from the source (old 3DS) to the target (3DS XL or new 3DS) - http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/systems/3ds/en_na/gi_index.jsp?menu=transfer&submenu=ctr-gi-apps-transfer-what-data

@tiger443 - Once you've finished the process as explained in the guide and video and the transfer is fully complete, copy the 2GB content onto your PC and then simply paste it onto the 4GB card. A PC with an SD reader built in (or an external reader that you plug in) should do the trick for you.

BJQ1972

#13

BJQ1972 said:

@ImDiggerDan I think if you watch the video at 33 seconds, a transfer of DSiware from the system memory to the SD card is part of the process.

tiger443

#14

tiger443 said:

But theres one problem, my 3ds is not working at all right now and what i'm trying to say is can you transfer everything from the 2gb card to the 4gb sd card without doing the system transfer?

XyVoX

#15

XyVoX said:

As im going to the shop on Friday to pick up my 3DS XL would i need to do the NEW system update in order to do this system transfer between the 3DS & XL ?

zdyoshikpl

#16

zdyoshikpl said:

So are my games like Pushmo transferred when I put my SD card from system A into System B? Does the 4gb one I get with the system need to be in system B when I do the transfer? Sorry for all the questions but I'm still confused.

BJQ1972

#19

BJQ1972 said:

@zdyoshikpl in that case what you would need to do is complete the transfer by putting your existing 2GB card into your new 3DS, and then, after that, use a PC to transfer the data from the 2GB card to the new 4GB card.

ThomasBW84Admin

#20

ThomasBW84 said:

@XyVoX - As long as you have the update from last December (which you MUST have by now, as it includes 3D video recording etc) then you're good, as this is the 3DS-3DS transfer from back then.

@zdyoshikpl - The answer before mine is right. If you follow the steps we're written down, or use the video as an extra source, you should be fine: the handhelds should prompt you as you go in terms of moving SD cards and data around. Start off with each system having it's original SD card, and take it step by step.

SteveW

#21

SteveW said:

I left my Dsiware games on my DSI XL, can I transfer those to my 3DS and then everything from my 3DS to my 3DS XL?

When transfering my Dsiware to 3DS would I overwrite all my 3DS stuff?

ThomasBW84Admin

#24

ThomasBW84 said:

@SteveW You can do it either way, transfer DSiWare from DSi XL to 3DS then do the full system transfer, or do the system transfer and then move from DSi XL to 3DS XL. The DSiWare transfer tool is separate, but is pretty self-explanatory and easy to use.

SteveW

#26

SteveW said:

@ThomasBW84 thanks, once my DSIware is moved to the 3DS XL can the games be played from SD or do I have to continue to swap them in and out of system memory like I currently do with the DSI XL.

ThomasBW84Admin

#27

ThomasBW84 said:

@SteveW 3DS XL is the same as 3DS, so DSiWare can be stored on the SD card, but must be on the system memory to be played.

Einherjar

#30

Einherjar said:

"There is a limit on the number of times that transfers can be performed. A system cannot participate in a transfer once this number is reached. The number of transfers remaining is displayed whenever you start performing a transfer."

Does this refer to the "once every 7 days" limit, or is there a total limit of transfers ?

Einherjar

#32

Einherjar said:

Well, thats kinda bad... i hoped to switch around my stuff whenever i wanted to take my 3DS with me (on a longer train trip or something)
Hmm...i guess i have to think about it a little longer. Also, i still need to see how DS games will look on the XL.

daznsaz

#33

daznsaz said:

im gonna give my son my ambassador one.give daughter his 3ds.ill get xl,wont bother transferring etc.

Gridatttack

#34

Gridatttack said:

I wonder, it is possible to select which files to only transfer? Let say I would like to keep the ambassador games on my original 3DS, but I want to transfer other eshop downloaded games. Is it possible?

emiru69

#35

emiru69 said:

I'm really surprised that Nintendo doesn't allow more than one 3DS with the same games. Meaning, my original plan was getting a 3DS XL to play at home and get the small one on the go but what's the point if I can't play any of my eShop/DsiWare games on both consoles? I understand that they want to limit the transfers so people don't abuse this feature but even Sony allows you to have the same digital titles on 2 portable systems at the same time. Well at least I got this feature clear before I purchased my 3DS XL, I just cancelled my pre-order.

nindocrash

#36

nindocrash said:

I'm definitely gonna get a XL. but it's gonna hit me with buyers lag, for a while. I've been buying from nintendo
all year games etc, had my 3DS for 5 months, and now
XL and Wii U on the way? I did intend to buy a Wii U but if I buy the XL I might wait till next year to get the Wii U.

Guhin13

#38

Guhin13 said:

I wonder if Game Stop in the US will allow the 24 hour grace period towards trade-ins? If by chance they did, I know I would be buying a XL asap.

TrueWiiMaster

#39

TrueWiiMaster said:

"Once a transfer has been performed, it cannot be undone."
Couldn't you just transfer it back in a week if you really wanted to?

domdom87

#40

domdom87 said:

"Any pre-installed Nintendo 3DS download software will be transferred from the source system to the target system. However if you delete your Nintendo eShop account activity on the target system after the transfer, you will no longer be able to redownload this software to that system from Nintendo eShop."

What does this mean? Does this mean if I clear my eshop account activity then ALL the things I've ever bought on the eshop is no longer redownloadable? Has this always been in the 3DS, regardless of doing a system transfer?

BudrSbastig

#43

BudrSbastig said:

I did a system transfer last week, no problems what so ever, but it did take about 40 mins.

DazzaAdmin

#44

Dazza said:

@SigourneyBeaver - my local GAME said they would do the transfer for me under the counter... or I could pay full price for the 3DS XL and return within 24 hours with the 3DS for trade-in and get £100 rebate. The policy will vary between stores I guess. If in doubt, just ask.

Shworange

#45

Shworange said:

So let's summarize and simplify (please let me know if this is correct). Save all original data to your computer. Then initiate transfer. If you have a large sd card in your original 3DS (8-32gb), the registration and save data will transfer to the new system. Then once the transfer is complete, you can pop your large sd card (8-32gb) in the new system and everything will be cloned and work just like the old system. Any steps missed?

XyVoX

#46

XyVoX said:

Well ive just prepared my 3DS for trade in tomorrow ive copied all the contents from the 3DS's original 2GB Card over to a much faster 4GB card then i can do all of the system transfer stuff tethered via my iPhone on site then change over this 4gb into the 3DS XL to complete the process then just put back in the original 2GB card for trade in, job done hopefully.

EaZy_T

#48

EaZy_T said:

"Time-limited add-on content and add-on content with a limited number of uses purchased on the target system will be lost."
Does this mean those cool little demos I've DLed will be lost? (I believe they were "purchased" although free)
I have a few more plays on them and seeing how they would look on a bigger screen might persuade me to buy the retail games.

BJQ1972

#49

BJQ1972 said:

Transfer was very smooth - certainly less problematic than the DSi to 3DS transfer. Everything is exactly as it was on my original 3DS.

Only one panic - the XL displayed a 'connecting to the Internet' message for what seemed like an eternity - or more honestly a couple of minutes - once the source system rebooted.

Felix_

#50

Felix_ said:

Thanks to the info above, my transfer worked perfectly! Now to find some screen proctectors and get back to Kid Icarus... :D

DaJusticeyJDude

#51

DaJusticeyJDude said:

Good thing I saw this cause I thought you transfer it another way and would probrably ruin my system anyways cant wait till it comes out here in the US but slight problem i was thinking on buying the limited edtion zelda 3ds system on amazon but then i heard about this and want this too. Reply to me on wich one to get or both.

Mowzle

#52

Mowzle said:

I did my transfer yesterday evening with my fingers crossed after reading all the instructions at least four times over, and it all went just as described above. Absolutely everything was transferred to my 3DSXL exactly as it was on my 3DS. It all took some time, but it was fun watching the pikmin zooming about moving stuff around.

The one moment I found a little hairy was near the end where you are asked to move your original SD card from the source (3DS) to the target (3DSXL) - I hit the on-screen "OK" response button before I did the changeover, so I got a message up saying the "SD card is not recognized". This scared me until I realized I needed to have moved the card first, and then I wasn't certain whether I should turn off the power in case the card got corrupted in the switch. In the end I just went ahead and did it as quick as possible with both systems still powered on, which is presumably what is supposed to be done. The old card was instantly recognized by the target system, all the right Icons popped up, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then the target system says it will connect to the internet, and this goes on for ages, but I suppose that's when it's chatting to the eShop to finalize the system transfer details.

Just saying the above so folks who will be doing all this over the next few weeks realize there are pretty good on-screen instructions and the transfer program actually works very efficiently.

Mk_II

#53

Mk_II said:

Done it, thanks to this excellent guide! i did not need to watch the video.

BrightShadows31

#54

BrightShadows31 said:

@tiger443 no, im pretty sure that you need to transfer it, cuz otherwise, people could just copy the file and post it on the internet for everyone to use free of charge...

BrightShadows31

#55

BrightShadows31 said:

too bad that you cant save all your data onto an sd card and then put it on to your new 3DS... then you could use trade-in programs...

Steviis_Father

#56

Steviis_Father said:

Sorry if this may seem obvious, but since it hasn't been brought up yet in this thread, can someone please confirm and guarantee that this transfer process ALSO ensures that the Mii & StreetPass Data (acquired puzzle pieces, completed puzzle boards, acquired hats, Find Mii achievements, acquired StreetPass Miis, Friends in the Friends List, Swapnote messages, etc.) are all transferred to the new system? I'm seriously on the fence about buying a new 3DS XL. Being an Ambassador & having my 3DS this long has already earned me a WHOLE LOT of data, accomplishments & saves that I'm not prepared to lose...

Any thoughts and clarifications about the StreetPass Puzzle/Find Mii/Mii Plaza/Swapnote data would be a big help. ;)

SWATwolf

#57

SWATwolf said:

I have a question here. Let's say I just bought a limited bundle, which I'll call it B. I already have an existing 3DS, A.

So B comes with a preinstalled game, I want to transfer A to B. To my knowledge, when A transfered to B, A will be wipe clean and every single data and software will be transfered to B.

The question here is, will B's preinstalled software be removed for good?

theblackdragonAdmin

#58

theblackdragon said:

@SWATwolf: When a System Transfer is performed, all eShop information is combined. Any funds left in both accounts are added together, Ambassador status (if applicable) is retained, and pre-installed software will also remain in the new combined eShop account. The same thing goes if you were to transfer from the Limited Edition bundle to a third 3DS, the third 3DS would now have whatever had been pre-installed on the Limited Edition bundle, as that information is connected with the systems' eShop accounts (now combined again on the third 3DS) and not the hardware itself.

jfredsilva

#59

jfredsilva said:

I have a 3DS and a 3DS XL, but they are not using the same nintendo account.
I want to transfer the games from my 3DS XL to my 3DS but I want to keep my 3DS nintendo account, If I do this guide, will this be possible?

pairomedics

#60

pairomedics said:

My kids have had the misfortune of owning defective 3DS systems. We love Nintendo and are pretty loyal, but we have been unlucky enough to get 3 bad units in a row. One of the systems has now lost both screens and my son has at least $80.00 in downloaded games, any suggestions on how we can do a transfer without a screen?

theblackdragonAdmin

#61

theblackdragon said:

@pairomedics: When you've got a damaged system and want to perform a transfer, you can send it in to Nintendo and they can do it for you, even if you've already bought the replacement system — i remember that being talked about back when the DSi came out. Have you tried calling their customer service line? The number is 1-800-255-3700, i'd definitely give it a try if you haven't already.

Steviis_Father

#63

Steviis_Father said:

Hope this wasn't brought up yet...

What if we have this scenario:

  • 3DS (2GB SD card, with eShop apps, eShop games, game saves)
  • 3DS XL (4GB SD card, with preloaded Animal Crossing, game saves)

If I wanna transfer everything from the 3DS to the 3DS XL, how do I go about copying and pasting stuff from the 2GB SD card without messing up the preloaded stuff (saves, etc.) on the 4GB?

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