Today is the day the Nintendo Switch Lite launches. Most people who already own a Switch will likely be sticking with what they have, but if you’ve decided to change things up and jump to the Switch Lite, you’ll need to know how to transfer your game saves and your user data. Thankfully, Nintendo has a built-in process to handle such transfers, and though it can be a little involved, the transfer itself doesn’t take much time.
Last month, I upgraded from a launch day Switch to one of the new models with improved battery life, so I’ve recently gone through this process. The transfer requires that you have both Switches on-hand, so if you’re trading in your old Switch, make sure you check with the store performing the trade-in to confirm you can do the system transfer at the time of purchase.
Assuming you can, you’ll need to ensure that both Switch consoles are on system menu version 4.0 before you start the transfer. A new Switch Lite will be on this system menu version or later out of the box, so really the only thing you need to do is make sure your old Switch is updated as well. Both systems also need to be connected to WiFi for the system transfer to work.
Transferring game saves and user data to Switch Lite
To begin the transfer, navigate to System Settings, select “Users” and then “Transfer Your User Data” on the source system – the Switch you’re transferring data from. Follow the prompts until you’re told to designate the console and select “Source Console.” Select continue, and then pick up your Switch Lite.
From here, do the same thing you did on your source system by opening System Settings > Users > Transfer Your Data and following the prompts until it’s time to designate the console, which will be the target system. You’ll then be prompted to sign in with your Nintendo Account – make sure you sign in with the Nintendo Account you want to transfer over to your new system. Log in with the email address or sign-in ID and password associated with that Nintendo Account, select “Next” and then turn your attention back to the source console.
Wait for the source console to find the target console, and then select “Transfer.” From here, the transfer process will begin and you simply need to sit back and wait for it to complete. For me, the whole process took around 20 minutes, but how long it takes for each person depends on how much game data they have and the quality of the WiFi connection. In a retail store, the WiFi might not be that great, so if you’re on an unlimited data plan, it might not be a bad idea to create a mobile hotspot and carry out the system transfer that way.
Will my digital games transfer as well?
Unfortunately, performing a system transfer between Switches doesn’t transfer digital games, and as far as I can tell, there’s no easy way to do that. Any SD card you have in your current Switch will need to be formatted before it can be used with another console, which means that you can’t simply pop the card into a new Switch and access all of your downloaded games.
So, with no easy way to transfer games between systems, you’re stuck downloading them again from the Switch eShop. The whole process is made easier by the fact that the eShop has a dedicated “redownload” menu that lists all of the games you’ve purchased but haven’t downloaded to your console yet, but for those on metered connections, redownloading all of your games can be a painful process.
While we expect most people to keep their current Switches, there are a few reasons why one might want to jump to a Switch Lite. If you only ever use your Switch in handheld mode, the Switch Lite’s smaller design lends to more portability and might therefore be a nice upgrade. The Switch Lite should also be more durable than a standard Switch given its unibody design, which is a great thing for families with young, potentially destructive children.
Regardless of how many people make the jump, it’ll be interesting to see how the Switch Lite performs this holiday season and beyond. The Switch Lite is available today in three colors – yellow, gray, and turquoise – for an MSRP of $199.99.