How do I transfer my 3DS data from one machine to another? With Pikmin, of course!

Until very recently, there was no method of transferring all of your 3DS save files, Streetpasses and downloaded content from one 3DS to another. However, thanks to a firmware update, you can now do exactly that. It's simple, only takes about 20 minutes and, best of all, takes place with the cutest animation we've seen yet this year. Yep - the Pikmin come along and carry all your data over, a piece at a time. Aww!

Above: Hey - careful with that copy of Mario vs Donkey Kong! It's a limited edition, you know

How do I transfer my 3DS data?

It's easy. All you need are your existing 3DS (in a usable condition), your 'target' 3DS (presumably your new one) and an internet connection. Both machines must be reasonably fully-charged, although we'd recommend plugging them both in too to make sure you don't lose any data through accidental powering down.

To start, just go to the Settings icon on your home screen, then Other Settings, then scroll right a couple of times until you find 'System Transfer'. Select this on both systems, then follow the on-screen instructions. You'll need to tap a few 'yes' boxes on each system so you can't just go away and leave it, but it basically only asks you if you're really sure you're sure you're totally sure that you definitely want to do this. After that, the magic begins and the Pikmin come to move your stuff.

Above: With a lot of downloaded games, it takes about 20 minutes to run its course

Will I lose anything?

Not from the account you're moving, no. However, the memory of your original machine will be completely wiped (except for anything on the SD card), leaving it in factory settings, or 'as new'. You will also lose any data saved on the 'target' 3DS. Of course, if it's new, it won't have much on it except for some internet settings etc. About the only thing you will lose on your 3DS is your system preferences, but that's no big deal.

What about DSi games and eShop downloads?

Everything gets moved. Any DSiWare games on your 3DS' system memory will get moved to the SD card, so you'll need to move the SD card from your old machine to your new one when you've finished. The old memory card will work exactly the same as it did, only in the new machine.

You won't lose any of your 3DS downloads and your Ambassador status will remain intact.

Above: Literally all of your games will jump over - but you'll need to manually move the game cartridge from one slot to the other. Not even the Pikmin can do that for you

What about Streetpass?

Incredibly, the transfer even carries over your StreetPass data, allowing you to see how many minutes ago you met 'Spock' and which game he was last playing. All your read/unread notifications come over, all those unwatched 3D videos... Honestly, once it's done, you won't be able to tell that your new system is any different from your old one. It works perfectly.

Can I use this to blag free games from my mates?

No. For starters, the target system receives the old system's data in its entirety, leaving the old machine completely blank and unable to connect to the first 3DS' eShop data. Secondly, you can only do a transfer once every seven days. Thirdly, there are a set number of times you can carry out the transfer ever. So it really should only be done when you really need it.

Above: Donezorz

But if you do ever damage your 3DS and have to go through this, rest assured the process is impossibly cute.


3DS guide Nintendo


  • Gameblaze58 - November 10, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    I can't find the "System Transfer"
  • skybluu - March 25, 2013 12:29 a.m.

    Just a random question. Will this transfer your gametime across as well?
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 4, 2013 6:04 a.m.

    Yep - it may as well be the same 3DS afterwards :)
  • badgraphix1 - January 9, 2012 1:44 p.m.

    Wow, so it even transfers your friend code and online data (then again I'm guessing your eShop data is connected to your FC, so it would have to.) Also, a system transfer won't be too useful unless you're upgrading, and there isn't a new 3DS model.
  • amber-elaine-hudson - April 23, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    It also comes in handy if you were really impatient and pre ordered your 3DS when there were only 2 colors and now you got enough money to get a new color that you really wanted so you are going to sell your old 3DS but want the data off it first. :)
  • Cyberninja - January 9, 2012 1:03 p.m.

    i did this with my dsi to 3ds and it worked fine i just wish nintendo would have done this when they repaired my system so i would have lost all my data because now i have to completly redo find mii and puzzle even though i was done
  • shawksta - January 9, 2012 11:04 a.m.

    Well thats a nice addition, seeing Pikmin picking up stuff again makes ya happy!
  • MattOfSteel - January 9, 2012 9:43 a.m.

    Good on ya Nintendo. Fingers crossed they'll have something like this to transfer Wii Virtual console purchases to the Wii U. Of course, fingers crossed they'll also figure out how to meet the industry standard of online multiplayer. But that might just be a (warp) pipe dream.
  • shawksta - January 9, 2012 10:59 a.m.

    Online Multiplayer or just being Online in general? Because thats 2 different things you know. In terms of Online, the 3DS took a step ahead by having only 1 friend code to keep a person forever, and possibly theyll improve it on WIIU, and the Eshop is MUCH easier and better to use then the Wii shop and Dsi shop. In terms of Online Multiplayer, hopefully The WiiU will have the hardware needed for 3rd Parties to make online Multiplayer games just like they do with 360/PS3, if your talking about Nintendo itself, Mario Kart 7's online community is a great step up, and Brawl was decent and Pokemon black/white/Battle Revolution was perfection.
  • CaptCOMMANDO - January 9, 2012 9:37 a.m.

    It's good to see they haven't forgotten the Pikmin license.
  • shawksta - January 9, 2012 11:03 a.m.

    Heh, of course not, Olimar suprisingly made it to Brawl didnt he, and their saving Pikmin 3 for the WIIU cause they think its best for it.
  • robertpopovic - January 9, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    I do actually find this a nice addition, because if the/a slim version ever launches I can safely pick it up (when low priced) without losing all my games from the shop :)

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