Wii U’re on your own: transferring data from the Wii to the new console

If you own a Wii and would like to move your system data to a Wii U, you are in for a real treat. Your purchased classic games, downloaded software and saved data for each must be transferred in an unneccessarily complicated process. 

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Moving content from an old Wii to a new Wii U could have been as simple as transferring Wii-based content to an SD card, then inserting that card into the Wii U. Instead, Nintendo set up a convoluted DRM system, hoping to ensure Wii owners could only play downloaded games (or access other personal content) on a single console.

  1. Insert an SD card with at least 512MB free into the Wii U. The Wii U then registers the system and SD card with an Internet server. Next, it prepares a partition on the SD card for the transfer.
  2. Put that same SD card into the Wii. The system connects to the Internet (presumably to confirm this content hasn’t been copied to another system yet), then copies the entire contents of the Wii system memory to the SD card. It will simultaneously delete that content from the source Wii.
  3. Put the SD card back into the Wii U. After a final Internet check, all the data and personal information on the Wii is copied to the Wii U.

Even Harry Tuttle would be tested by this undertaking.

Kyle Orland at Ars Technica hit a little bit of a hitch. His Wii has some memory issue and he is unable to transfer the Wii data without mailing in the console and paying Nintendo $60 to fix it. He has $400 worth of downloaded software on his Wii, not to mention save data or leftover Wii points (Wii currency which must be transfeered in the method outlined above).

It makes sense for him to send it in, but it’s a wonder that he even has to deal with this situation. Steam and XBox Live allow you to access your account digitally rather than using a hard data transfer and you can even save your games to the cloud with XBox. Netflix and HBO Go allow access from various locations and devices. Apple has an excellent system: when I download an app on my iPhone it is simultaneously added to my iPad. With the growing ubiquity of the cloud, it’s dissapointing that Nintendo hasn’t implemented it in a user-friendly fashion, esepecially with its next-generation console. Sony and Microsoft should be watching this carefully.