Managing Switch's Memory Without an SD Card Has Become Its Own Mini-Game

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I now engage in a regular dance with my Switch. When adding new game, it’s time for one to come off the board. There are games I refuse to delete, knowing I might come back at any time—used to be Breath of the Wild, now it’s Super Mario Odyssey—which means the vast majority of the Switch’s tiny internal storage (just 32GB) is largely accounted. That leaves room for one other big game, a few smaller ones?

This dance has become its own little game. Subsurface Circular, which I’ve been meaning to play but haven’t gotten around to, got the axe. That saved me 544MB. Thumper, which is probably neat on the Switch but a game I’ve experienced elsewhere, was also removed, freeing up 695MB. This wasn’t enough for what I ultimately needed: 6.6GB for Donkey kong Country: Tropical Freeze. It was time to start considering the big guns.

In this case, the “big guns” literally referred to the weapons attached to Bayonetta. Bayonetta 2 is one of my all-time favorites, and I’ve meant to play the original. Hence, picking up Bayonetta on the Switch! But I haven’t found the time for it, and when I haven’t found the time for something after a few months, there’s probably a reason.

See ya, Bayonetta. Hello, 8.5GB! And thus, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a game I definitely will be playing over the next few weeks, found its way onto my Switch.

I could remedy these inventory management issues by buying an SD card. Because there were so few games I wanted to play on my Switch the first year, I was able to keep juggling pretty well. It’s only now I’m been forced to reckon with Nintendo’s cost cutting, which means I should just go to Amazon and move on.

...or I could axe Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, free up 2.6GB, and roll the dice...

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This is me still making due with my 500 GB launch PS4 and no external drive. Just take all the numbers up above and multiply them by 10. Uncharted 4, one of my favorite PS4 games, only stayed installed for a month because it took up nearly 100 GB. Battlefront 2 and For Honor are two games that I reasonably should have uninstalled months ago, but I keep lying to myself that I’ll get back to them sooner rather than later.


The way Sony handle patches (seemingly copying all the data over to a new location with the patch applied then deleting the old copy) for games makes the struggle to manage the space requirements even worse.

Hopefully there’ll be a system update at some point that moves everything over to an actually reasonable patching process that only updates the files in place and doesn’t bother to account for the possibility of needing to roll back a failed patch process (because has that ever happened and even if it has, it’ll just involve redownloading any files broken in the update so actually this isn’t nearly the issue that Sony apparently think it is).


Sadly, I don’t have this problem because so few Switch games stayed on my system for long. I’ve deleted Mario + Rabbids, Celeste, Dandara, and probably a few others I’m forgetting within a few days of downloading them. Now it’s just Breath of the Wild, Odyssey, Thumper and Shovel Knight, for which I have more than enough space, captures included.

This is much more of a problem for me on PS4. Combine the issue @Shivoa mentioned with the ridiculous space games take on the system, even ones played from a CD, and the fact that I like to get screencaps and video when I can, and storage space runs out fast. Eventually I caved and got an external HDD just to house game data, and it’s still an imperfect solution because for some bizarre reason, you can use an external drive for games or media, but not both.


As someone who has gone mostly digital this gen, I went back to physical for my Switch. It’s a combo of liking cartridges, significantly cheaper discounts compared to the eShop, and a general distrust of Nintendo when it comes to anything internet-related. But yeah, storage hasn’t been as much of a problem for me. Even if it was, microSDs are so cheap nowadays that it’s a no-brainer quality of life improvement just to bite the bullet and buy one. I mean, if you’ve got the scratch to pay for new full-price games, surely you can spring for a $50 SD card. It sure beats being a Vita owner, spending $120 for a 64 GB card. :tired_face:


Ye, pretty sure that even if any PS4 games initially play off the optical drive, with patches and installing to the drive as you play, the entire 50GB disc is on the HDD eventually. So the optical drive is simply the DRM check of ownership that spins up when the game starts and then never again (given how loud that drive is at max speed, that’s not really a terrible shame but would be nice to be able to remove the disc files without also deleting the downloaded patch for a game you’re going to put down for a month or two but want to pick back up without needing to do all the patch downloads).

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A 200gb micro sd card goes for around $60. I got one at launch, have stuck with digital purchases for everything and after a year with the system I’m still sitting with around 100gb free. Storage for the Switch is pretty cheap. I’m still waiting for an update to let me back up save games from the internal storage to the sd card so if the system craps out I don’t lose them all.


I get anxious at the prospect of spending money for leisure (thanks ingrained poverty mindset) so I still rock with my launch 60gb PS3. It’s become a strange strategy/puzzle game I play with myself. “Well, I’m going to get tired of Kingdoms of Amalur in two weeks so should I spend the rest of my space on another PS3 game or a bunch of psx ones? What are the needs of the BeefyMang of the future and how can they be met!?”

I kinda like it, though. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of releases and this forces me to limit my focus to things I actually want to play. When space and time are precious, I’m only going to let the really good stuff stick around. I think that’s an ultimately healthier place for me to be.

Being forced to juggle applications on a too small memory card is capitalist fascism.


Buying NBA 2K18 actually alleviated me of this problem in a roundabout, $40 way, because the game can’t be installed without the extra memory. Luckily I like the game, because I accidentally spent $80 on it and would’ve spent more had I not bought a used copy

How do you not have like a dozen old micro sd cards lying around from other old devices that you’re not using anymore is like a real question that I have right now.

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On the one hand, I’m like…why don’t you just get an SD card…? But on the other hand I get it. Even with a 200 GB SD card, I still don’t have enough storage to fit all of my Switch games. Hopefully 400 GB SD cards will be reasonably priced by the end of the year, but until then…guess I’m deleting Doom for now…

I had this problem for a bit, then I got an SD card and was like ‘wait… why am i not buying these games physically’. for me, PC games are digital downloads and console games are things I should buy physically, since

  1. there’s no difference in price so who cares
  2. i’ve been gamin on PC for so long that owning an actual physical copy of something is a novelty. makes me feel like i’ve bought a tiny house or some shit. ‘ohohoho look at this small cartridge how positively novel! ohohohohoho’

pictured above: my reaction when i have a physical switch game


You really need to play Subsurface Circular if you have any love of intriguing plots, choices, robots and 20th century science fact and fiction inspired subway station names.

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I didn’t have any Micro SD cards at all - literally nothing I’ve owned has ever used them before the Switch. I had plenty of regular SD cards from cameras, but never any Micros.

Anyway, I bought a good-sized one and I haven’t filled it up yet. I have been 100% digital-purchase on the Switch so far, because I’m far too addicted to never having to keep track of discs and cartridges anymore.

@EmuPrime I finally took the plunge and replaced my ps4 hard drive because it was becoming intolerable to have to constantly manage memory, especially with the horrible patch process. now I have to slowly download everything again…

@Navster yeah I also went physical for almost any game that had a retail release for the Switch because downloads can take up so much space. plus yeah, those eshop discounts are terrible.

I wish I could do the same for digital only games because everything feels like it costs twice as much on the Switch


I relate so hard to this. I bought my Switch expecting it to be my next Vita. But the Vita has the benefit of PS+ games and great discounts. So my Switch has become a Nintendo exclusives machine, like every Nintendo console since the N64.

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the Vita did so many incredible things and cross play was almost there but not supported like it should have been.

but also the memory situation on it was even worse, so despite the ridiculous amount of games I have for it I never play it because big memory cards cost as much as the system at this point

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I lucked out and got a free 16GB card when I bought my Vita, and it’s actually been sufficient for what I use it for. I feel like I can put as many indies as I want on that sucker and only occasionally manage space. But yeah, those proprietary cards suuuuck.

It’s extremely a shame that the only way to use those cheap microSD adaptors for the Vita is with CFW, otherwise it would be a really good idea to grab a $5 adaptor and bring your own big memory card to make sure your Vita never runs out of space.

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