News Article

Wii U System Update Can Be Downloaded in the Background

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Play while you wait

If one complaint drowned out all others among excited Wii U owners on launch day, it was the waiting time to install the system update. Depending on your internet speed and the performance of the Nintendo servers, the download typically seemed to take anything between 45 minutes and three hours, and then you'd have another 10-15 minutes while the update installed. Those who got impatient and killed the power on their system — never do that during an update — or had the misfortune of a power cut, meanwhile, ran the risk of a bricked system.

Life would be so much easier, particularly for impatient people, if you could run the download in the background, right? Well it turns out that you can, it's just that Nintendo didn't tell us.

Recently it was claimed on Reddit that following the right steps would allow you to play games while the system update did its own thing in the background, and fortunately our man Jon Wahlgren just happened to receive his Wii U yesterday. He bravely agreed to try the idea out so that we could make sure it actually worked: after initial setup, he chose "cancel" when the firmware update request came through and decided to play some Nintendo Land instead. After a bit of that he was exploring the system menu when a notification popped up to install the update, which was a short step to complete.

So, performing a background download for Wii U's system update is indeed a simple option if you know what to do, though quite why Nintendo didn't make that clear is anybody's guess. In any case, do not turn off your system, even if you use this method to download in the background while you play some games. It'll be much safer to leave it on until the prompt to install appears, or you can always go to the system update option and manually start the installation once a bit of time has passed.

A "download in the background" button would be nice in future system updates, though.

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User Comments (46)

19Robb92

#1

19Robb92 said:

Awesome! I'm definitely downloading it in the background then, while playing some Mario in the meantime on the 30th :D

Tsuchiya

#2

Tsuchiya said:

I'll just be downloading the update the good ol' fashioned way and leaving it alone to do it's job come the 30th.

And y'know, leaving the plug in O_O

AyeHaley

#3

AyeHaley said:

Do people love to ignore warnings? I thought people knew you never unplug a device while updating...ever. it's always well documented.

adrenochrome

#4

adrenochrome said:

A drop in internet connection should never be a problem for system update : it's clearly a lame bug from the system.
The correct behavior should be : system detect there's no more connection and it abort the update process in a clean way.

19Robb92

#6

19Robb92 said:

@adrenochrome
From what I've understood the internet connection has nothing to do with the problem. If you loose that, your still perfectly fine. It's pulling the plug during the installation process of the update that kills the system, not during the download.

ThomasBW84Admin

#7

ThomasBW84 said:

@19Robb92 Yeah, I've taken out that reference to the internet connection perhaps being an issue to brick a Wii U, I think you're right. I believe I've read the update resumes from where it was if the connection drops.

So, yeah, tweaked it :)

Tsuchiya

#8

Tsuchiya said:

@adrenochrome
It's more a case of impatient adult-children with their head floating in the air, drunk on over excitement. :D

Keep calm, listen to AC/DC and leave the damn plug alone!!

KAHN

#9

KAHN said:

why would nintendo not tell us? sounds like something i'll want to do when i'm pirating movies on the wii U internet.

Haxonberik

#10

Haxonberik said:

Is it easy to just refuse the update entirely and do it later? I want to try it out on Christmas when I get it , but my internet connection is really bad.

Punky

#11

Punky said:

Background downloads are great and all but.....what if I get the console and hit cancel update thinking I will play some games now and do the update later. Finish playing a game and turn the console off. If the console is background downloading (without me knowing it because I hit cancel) it will be bricked? That cant be right????

Kaine_Morrison

#12

Kaine_Morrison said:

DOWNLOADING the Update will NOT Brick the System if interrupted.

INSTALLING the Update WILL Brick the System if interrupted.

SanderEvers

#13

SanderEvers said:

@Punky In short, no. However it might happen if you turning off the console (like unplugging it entirely) might damage the Flash memory. Which could brick your console. If you'd just put it in standby there would be no problem. (It might even be able to download while it's in standby like the Wii/3DS)

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK The consumer support department might not know this.

BenAV

#14

BenAV said:

Good to hear.
I'll definitely start playing some games while waiting for the update to download then.

erv

#15

erv said:

If nintendo's servers are ready, I'll sit it out. I'll have it within a handful of minutes then anyway.

MAB

#16

MAB said:

I will do it the safe way... Just wait for it to download while I crack open a beer or six as I read the system manual and ZombiU book ;) then I can cricket bat some zomfies BLInd @s a dRunKn skUnk e2dek93dmc

SilentHunter382

#17

SilentHunter382 said:

But the download size is big thing for me to know when I get my wii u. Is it a 1gb or a 5gb download. I am always hearing different download size.

Banker-Style

#18

Banker-Style said:

I'm just going to let it download while I wait.
I've wait a year an a half for a Wii U,so I can wait a few hours.

cheapogamer4life

#19

cheapogamer4life said:

Im guessing one could check the available memory before and after the update and figure out the difference. If Nintendo is still using "blocks" as the term for on board memory then 6.4 blocks equal 1mb. At least that's how its done on for the Dsi/3ds.

DarkNinja9

#21

DarkNinja9 said:

well at least its good to know now that you can do this but i think its still safer to just let it download from the start and install then play :P

OracleOfTruth

#22

OracleOfTruth said:

Oh well. I already did the download the regular way. It's fine though, since I had some other things to do.

Neonridr

#23

Neonridr said:

If the internet drops, it shouldn't be an issue. When I was downloading the update on the 18th, the connection dropped out a few times (well I got disconnected from the server it was downloading from, probably due to traffic). When I clicked to download the update again, it just picked up from where it left off. Downloading it is fine, it's when it's actually installing the update that you have to make sure you don't turn the system off.

Regardless, people should know better than doing anything while the system is updating itself. Start the download, and go for a walk or go eat dinner or something, then come back.

Araknie

#24

Araknie said:

If you interrupt the installation the system bricks not the download.

And seriously people need to know thing about unpluggin'...that's sad.

siavm

#25

siavm said:

You can do this with game updates to just say start software instead of waiting for it to finish. It will download in the back. And when it is ready to install just tap game you want to install and after a few seconds or minutes it is done. This is way better than 360 and ps3 when it comes to updating but that seems to not be reported.

LavaTwilight

#26

LavaTwilight said:

@Tsuchiya
I've agreed with every comment I've read of yours and I'm agreeing with both of them above now. HEAR HEAR! Well said! I'll be doing the same.

LavaTwilight

#27

LavaTwilight said:

@SilentHunter382
According to previous articles it's closer to 4GB so sometimes it may be rounded up or down. Also different aspects of the update may hold different amounts, so if they're specifically referring to Miiverse that may be only 1GB whereas the entire update is a total of 4.

SomeBitTripFan

#29

SomeBitTripFan said:

That is helpful. Nintendo hasn't given out much information on Wii U. I still don't believe one is heading to my porch.

Kagamine

#31

Kagamine said:

Mine downloaded in the background, but i didn't do anything special. It lost connection to server just as it started, brought me back to home menu, and it was downloading in the background. I thought it was supposed to be that way. lol

Sonic260

#33

Sonic260 said:

Not that I'm worried about my internet connection, but hopefully Nintendo or someone else will start selling these with the update pre-installed

Ernest_The_Crab

#35

Ernest_The_Crab said:

I suspect the online stuff is still very much a work in progress. Give it a month or two and it "should" be working as intended (ergonomically and technically).

Well at least the eShop and online gaming is working right now.

sinalefa

#36

sinalefa said:

So you can just cancel the update and start playing? I know I would have done that (if I had a Wii U), I just hate when I have a new PS3 game and the thing asks me to download a huge patch, so I just leave it for later as they are not mandatory to start the game.

So the downloading process does not have a cancel button while you are in the middle of it? I have a UPS, so what if I get a long blackout? It must be maddening to risk bricking the system like this. Unless it indeeds only affects the installation and not the downloading itself.

Still, I am pretty sure the next batch of Wii U will have this installed, as it has been customary that new systems get the latest system version.

Moshugan

#37

Moshugan said:

Wait what? How can interrupting a DOWNLOAD brick the system?? I thought that could only happen during the installation.. And why would anyone stop a 10 minute installation? There's something here I didn't quite understand.

Kagamine

#38

Kagamine said:

@sinalefa Mine stopped shortly after starting and it's not bricked, my friends did the same thing and his is fine. Both of ours started downloading in the background. Also regular game updates and future system updates always download in the background, and the software can sill be played while the update is being downloaded, but not installed.

ETLN

#39

ETLN said:

I'm not sure I like the idea of it automatically downloading the update in the background, the problem with it doing that is people of smaller data caps in counties like here in New Zealand or Australia might end up going over their caps, to me cancel should do just that, not automatically download it.

sinalefa

#41

sinalefa said:

@Kagamine

Thanks for the clarification. It seems the issue has been blown out of proportion.

Anyway, I plan to get it early next year (close to Pikmin' release) so maybe by then the consoles will come with this installed already.

shinesprite

#42

shinesprite said:

I just found this out yesterday when I was given a chance to try out my soon-to-be system (it's a complicated situation).

UnseatingKDawg

#43

UnseatingKDawg said:

Good to know. Although, by the time I buy one, they may have changed the method (the earliest I see myself getting one, since I have to work for it myself, which is much more worth it, is January).

Grodus

#44

Grodus said:

I actually figured this out myself AFTER I updated initially. I had an apparent update running for netflix, and the fact that it said download management on the home menu. Does no one press the home button?

Izze

#45

Izze said:

Thomas, would it be possible to update your article to list exactly which Wii U version Jon Wahlgren was updating? Was it an 8GB or 32GB model? There's a lot of confusion with non Wii U owners about the size of the update and how it's supposedly too large for the Wii U's onboard memory. It's silly, I know, but I think it would be good to get the finer details out there.

Daz-brum

#46

Daz-brum said:

Can anyone help? Got a WiiU on 30th and it will not update it downloads the file then goes to install stops at 30% then says error system will restart... I have done this seven times now. Nintendo no help told me to wait till Monday then they will ak Europe Nintendo can anyone help???? PLEASE..

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