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For several months I had been keeping my Wii U at my friends' house. They just got a new Wii U, and we want to transfer their NNID's (Nintendo Network ID's), purchased content, and save data from my Wii U to their Wii U while leaving all of my data alone.

We called Nintendo, and they said it is possible to transfer their NNID's from my Wii U (the source system) to theirs (target system), which will transfer the ID as well as any purchased content (it will be queued to re-download on their console). However, Nintendo's support site as well as the first person we spoke with says that for save data to be transferred, a complete system transfer must be done; this moves EVERYTHING, and formats the source system. Especially considering that I also have all my original Wii data on my Wii U, this is simply not a solution.

We have already initiated the process of transferring their NNID's to their console; we're just waiting to get the go-ahead from Nintendo to try to use them on their Wii U. So while we wait...

...this brings me to my question. The second person we spoke with suggested that it may still be possible to transfer save data. The process they proposed was...

  • While logged in as NNID to be moved, copy save data from source Wii U to USB drive
  • Copy all data from USB drive to another drive (e.g., computer)
  • After NNID transfer is complete, insert USB drive into target Wii U
  • If target Wii U reads data -- success! If not, format USB drive for target Wii U
  • After drive is formatted, copy save data from computer to USB drive
  • USB drive should now a) be recognized by target Wii U and b) have useable save data

And so we encounter our problem. Both Windows 8 and OS X Mavericks are unable to recognize any data on the USB drive and simply wish to format it. From what I read in a forum post from July 2013, Ubuntu Linux will at least see the drive, but not the data. It sounds to me like the Wii U is formatting the drive in some proprietary file system format, so...

  • Has anyone figured out what this file system format is, and gained access to it?
  • If so, will copying the data in the way described above allow their save data to be useable on the target Wii U?
  • ...or is there some other method of doing this that we haven't considered?

Once their NNID's are transferred to the target Wii U (theirs) we will see if the USB drive is recognized by the console. I suspect it will prompt for a reformat and nothing else, which is why I'm posing this question to begin with. If for some magical reason it does recognize the data, then this whole question is moot, but in the meantime, any guidance is greatly appreciated!

  • If I remember well, if you transfer your NNID on another console you won't be able to connect that NNID on your old WiiU. A NNID cannot be associated to multiple devices. And if you figure out how to keep your data stored on both consoles I doubt you'll have permission to play any purchased content without its NNID. – pinckerman Jan 13 '15 at 17:30
  • @pinckerman, the goal here is simply to move their NNID's and save data from one Wii U (mine, the source) to another (theirs, the target), not to retain them on both consoles. Purchased content is no problem in this case; they only bought DLC and the full games are disc copies, and I don't care if I lose access to any DLC on my console. – Violet Jan 13 '15 at 19:34
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First off, in regards to your end question: No. The HD format for external devices on the Wii U is closed and proprietary, and each drive has the hardware ID for it's home system as part of the encryption so it will not work on a second Wii U without reformatting as of the last time I checked. This would require a hack which is beyond the scope of this website to cover.

As for confirming and commenting on the migration process, having just done this myself I can verify much of what you said. But it is extremely nerve wracking and the Nintendo associates I spoke with indicated that they are working on a way to improve the process in the future.

My situation was all of the family members in my household had NNIDs setup on a Wii U and those NNIDs had been associated with the Club Nintendo accounts which were apart of a Family account. Only the main account on the old system had made any purchases but the other accounts had extensive individual save data for games.

I spoke with several Nintendo support people about this and it seemed that the only ones that really had a grasp on this process where the M-F / 9-5 U.S. based support staff working out of their primary call center. Anyone else I reached that was a remote worker or over seas and dependent on the support scripts usually didn't seem to comprehend what I wanted done.

Anyways, with the right people handling it, the request is a "back-office, profile migration" and you have to make sure they specify in the notes that this is for a single profile. Not the whole system. Also make sure you have all of the NNIDs, Club IDs, e-mail address associated with IDs, and possibly be able to confirm recent purchases (on both the account you're moving and the primary account on the old system) as well the machine serial numbers in front of you when you make the call.

The only thing that get's re-homed/transferred is the NNID to the new hardware. All DLC or full games purchased by the transferred NNID become unlicensed and none of the other players in theory can not launch them anymore so those downloads will need deleted and/or repurchased by another user. The moved NNID will need to re-download all content to the new system.

Note, one support person I spoke with did tell me that there is the potential for a manual file extraction/move process on save game data as the techs can actually walk the file system on your Wii U while you have it online and turned on. In theory you could have both systems on and a support tech could move the files between the systems remotely. Unfortunately I was never able to get this particular support guy back on the phone to try this, but this does indicate that it is possible. I was told by this person that you could not simply do a USB transfer as save data for users are bundled into a save data resource bundle on the system and there is no way for the user to separate it out, also some save data is bound to the system's hardware ID and part of the support person moving the data is rebinding it to the new hardware.

The net result is my one child now has his Wii U with his ID on it. The original system has all of the other IDs. Also for some reason his ID still shows on the old system and did not deactivate. None of us have had the guts to try launching the profile as we don't want to screw anything up. Also, whatever you do, do not use the DELETE ID function as it will not only delete the ID from the system it will also kill the NNID account and all purchases ACROSS ALL ASSOCIATED SYSTEMS... yes, you may screw your 3DS up. Do don't do it.

The process is horrible. Absolutely horrible, and if you're going to do it, you need to make sure you have someone who knows exactly what you want done and annotates it EXACTLY in the back-office request. You should also make sure they are on the phone with you every step of the way as much as possible.

  • While it may not be the result I was hoping for, this is definitely the best response I could hope for! It's really such a shame that they are still so archaic about all of this. Thankfully, my friends only were using my Wii U a few months, but has Nintendo considered how this oversight would affect people who share a console for years? Rhetorical, obviously, but still. In any case (as I mentioned in my first post) we did initiate the NNID transfer for each of their profiles already, just as you described. I will pass on your answer to them regarding the save data. Bryan, thank you so much! – Violet Jan 14 '15 at 16:14
  • No problem. Yeah the people I spoke with that had a handle on things said the volume of calls on this were slowly increasing and Nintendo was well aware of the crisis this was causing because more often than not it was resulting in unhappy people calling about data loss. If nothing else, this is a problem that's literally costing them money so I would think that alone would give them motive to come up with a better solution. – Bryan C. Jan 14 '15 at 20:11

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