It is said in this article that for the Wii U, an external hard drive is probably going to be needed.

It is said in this article that the Wii U will work best with an external hard drive that uses its own power adapter.

But I wonder for some small, portable hard drive, does somebody have any succcess using it being powered by the Wii U? (such as the Western Digital Passport, the Seagate Backup Plus, or the Toshiba Canvio, or any other one.)

(it is also said that USB Flash drive technically can work, but with large amount of read and write, it can fail after too many re-writes and so it is not suitable as a Wii U drive)

  • USB ports have a standard protocol to follow, for size, shape, and power provided. They should all (PC, Console, or plug in the side of the head) work exactly the same, which means a 2.5" laptop HDD should work just fine.
    – Frank
    Nov 28, 2012 at 1:12
  • 1
    but there are articles that say the drive is best to be powered by its own adapter and some youtube video says the USB powered one was used and the console froze a few times Nov 28, 2012 at 2:29
  • @fbueckert this is true but not all USB ports follow the protocol, some don't provide as much power.
    – asbumste
    Nov 28, 2012 at 21:17
  • @asbumste You're going to tell me that Nintendo is going to throw out an entire factory standard? I sincerely doubt that. The Wii U has 4 USB 2.0 ports, and the power standard for that is roughly 500-900mA @ 5V. That roughs out to 2.5-4.5W, which should power any 2.5" hard drive adequately.
    – Frank
    Nov 28, 2012 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


I would normally refer to the printed manual, which we do of course have access to in English, but it refers to the electronic manual for more information about USB devices, and this manual only seems to exist on the Wii U itself.

I don't have a Wii U yet (partly because it isn't out here yet), but I would expect that this information is also repeated there, in which case an American Wii U owner should be able to verify this.

At any rate, I watched the video, and based on my limited knowledge of Japanese, this seems to relate to the notice shown at 8:16:

Wii Uでの安定動作が保証できない

If my translation is reasonably accurate, they're essentially saying that drives requiring a Y-cable connection (an extra USB plug for power) may not function correctly. 2.5" drives which don't require this should be fine (note that some drives essentially negotiate for more power over a single port; I suspect that the Wii U does not support this, so those drives would neeed a Y-cable to get 1A).

Most likely, they're just being cautious, and your drive will work fine, but it is possible that there is some edge case where the Wii U is unable to power both ports and ends up disabling the "extra" port.

However, do note that this is entirely based on the text in the video - I don't understand spoken Japanese, so Iwata may be saying something additional here which affects the meaning; and there is the possiblity that I mistranslated something.

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