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My wife and I share a single Nintendo DS. Many DS games permit only a single slot; one example is Etrian Odyssey.

I would like to be able to back up my Level 18 Etrian Odyssey party so that my wife can try the game without my losing the many hours I have put in. I have heard there is a device called "R4" or "R4DS" which might make this possible, but I can't figure out which device to buy or how to set it up.

How can I back up a Nintendo DS saved game onto an external flash card, then later restore?

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A few devices exist specifically for the purpose of dumping these things, such as the NDS Backup Adapter Plus - I don't have any experience with that particular device, but as I understand it, you just put the game into the adapter, and connect the adapter to your PC. This is likely to be the easiest way to do this, but looking around, it seems like it might also be a little more expensive.

Alternatively, if you have a DS Phat or DS Lite with Wifi (DSi or 3DS will not work), you can use a flash cart to do this in a completely legitimate way: You can use a homebrew program to dump and restore saves onto official cartridges. I've personally had good success with Savsender.

You use this program to send the save data to your computer; if everything goes well, your wife can safely delete your saved game, and start a new one. When you want to get back to your own file, you dump your wife's save to a different file (assuming she wants to keep playing her file, otherwise you can skip this step), and restore your own. For a more detailed guide, follow this tutorial.

It's not completely fool-proof: it may occasionally misdetect the save size, in which case you only get a part of your save. Various online databases have the save size available, in case you want to verify the results. In the case of Etrian Odyssey, it uses 64KB for save data (65536 bytes).

There are a few games out there which are known to not work with this program: Pokémon HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black and White are wired differently, and can't be dumped using this process. Additionally, it may not support save sizes greater than 512KB (The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, WarioWare: DIY and Art Academy are the only non-Japanese titles I'm aware of; Japan had a few more games like this) - I haven't actually tried dumping any of those myself, so I don't know if they're detected correctly. If you want to dump any of those, you are probably best off with the adapter.

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Thanks for this hugely helpful answer. I don't seem to have the power to award additional bounty. Maybe not enough rep. (I am still a bit confused about what hardware I need, but I will dig around.) –  Norman Ramsey Mar 17 '12 at 19:36
    
@NormanRamsey: Well, it depends on what hardware you already have. :) If you have a DSi (or DSi XL/LL, or 3DS), you have to use an adapter, which AFAIK requires a Windows PC (make sure 64-bit drivers are available if you use 64-bit Windows). If you use Linux or OS X, you have to use a flash cart, which requires a MicroSD card (you only need a few MB for the flash cart system files and the savsender program), WiFi, and a DS "Phat" or DS Lite (DSi doesn't work for save dumping) - and of course, a flash cart (I use an Acekard 2i, but any flash cart will work). –  Michael Madsen Mar 17 '12 at 23:20
    
I'm such an ignoramus---I'm pretty sure I have DS Lite. I'm dead sure I have WiFi. Thanks for the pointer to AceKard 2i; I guess I will get a flash cart and figure it out. –  Norman Ramsey Mar 18 '12 at 1:47
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The short answer is that you can't do exactly what you want with a flash cart - not without starting the game over and doing things that are likely illegal in your country.

Modern DS flash carts replace the game card in your DS. Most do take a memory card (typically a micro SD card, the same as many cell phones use for storage), but you've got to take the game out of your DS in order to use it. Therefore, you can't use it to back up a save on a game you already own.

They do allow you to have multiple save files, so conceivably if you had a game loaded onto the card, you could have a different copy of the save file for each user. However, using such a device to play a copyrighted game would most likely require that you download a ROM from the internet, and this is unlikely to be legal, depending on your region. I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal advice. Nintendo's lawyers have covered this, however.

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With DS and DSLite (but not DSi) there is a way to copy the ROM and saved games direct from a cart you own. Said another way: you don't need to illegally download a ROM from the internet in order to utilize a replacement flash cart as a backup. Details at LifeHacker –  matt wilkie Aug 5 '12 at 4:35
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