Nov 25th, 2012

So maybe you got stuck with a white edition of the Nintendo Wii U and are disappointed in your inability to download games to your local device. Or maybe you’ve got the black edition but either play a ton of games or want to extend Nintendo’s latest console with access to music, movies and games that you own. Or maybe a combination of both! We’ve got you covered.

The holiday season is the PERFECT time to take advantage of amazing deals on storage of all types, but the deals often change, so you’ll want to make two decisions:

  • How much storage do you want?
  • How much are you willing to pay?

The Wii U is compatible with external hard drives up to 2TB. While they’ve hinted that they may make updates so consumers can use even larger storage solutions, 2 terabytes of data is quite a bit so it should please 99.9% of you. Obviously the more capacity the hard drive has, the more storage it will consume, and if you want something compact you’ll pay for that convenience as well.

Let’s start with the beefiest of solutions and work our way down. I tend to prefer a couple of specific online retailers (Amazon, NewEgg) so you’re likely to see them listed most frequently below. First up…

External Hard Drives for the Wii U:
Take your console to the next level by by making room for tons of media and games.

USB Storage for the Wii U:
Small and compact, USB Storage solves a simple problem with simple solution. 

SD Card storage for the Wii U:
Pick up a USB SD Card Reader and snag an SD Card. I’d suggest getting a Class 10 and make sure if it’s a MicroSD it comes with an SD card adapter. Both SD and SDHC are fine.

Have you added any external storage? How was your experience? Post your own suggestions for external storage and Cyber Monday/Week deals in the comments!


local_offer    Nintendo  wii u  
  • ledreppe

    I have a 3TB drive, will that work as you say the Wii U only supports up to 2TB. Will the Wii U simply just address 2 TB worth and leave 1 TB or will it not work atall?

    • Zhenya

      nope it supports up to 3 tb

      • NavyBlueYoshi

        Could’ve sworn that wii u daily already told us all the wii u can hold up to 3TB in EHD, also, any1 know how to import music onto ur wii U?

        • Nintenlord

          Place it on a sd card and listen from there

          • [000]

            But how do you access those files on the sd card?

      • TheGuyWho

        It only supports 2TB drives until another update is released

    • Rob

      Not quite sure, Ledreppe. Who knows: maybe it WILL work and is just unsupported. I would assume the Wii U wouldn’t recognize it at all or recognize it completely, but I can’t be sure. Either way: proceed at your own risk!

    • Grodus

      No, but that is actually what the update will do. At least, that’s what I heard.

    • GeneralCrocket

      No, I’m pretty sure it won’t work. However, Nintendo’s support page does say they will release an update in December that allows over 2TB of storage and allows connection of more than one drive.

    • ncv144

      I read something that only 2tb will be usable and the other will be useless, also you can only use the hard drive for the U after formating and if you wanr to use it for somthing else you have to reformat it.

    • Johny

      you can always try… dont worry about wii u bricking, your 3tb drive breaking and other nonsensall crap… as everything modern on the market, the wii u is fool-proof.. and will not break or damage anything … it just might not support it, and will probably say that too

  • Awesome..

    That’s cool and all but, have you verified all of these work with the Wii U, because I’ve heard stories of people buying hard drives and it not being compatible. Please help. Thanks 🙂

    • HBusiness

      Yeah, supposedly a lot of USB 3.0 drives don’t work… are the 3.0 drives on this list hard drives that are confirmed to work, or just here because they are deals?

  • ncv144

    Well, i atleast will be fine with just 32gb storage unless i see something interestng on the eshop but for that i have a 150gb hard drive. Btw i only have about 5gb of music ans still then i can stream it from dropbox through the browser

  • Kopp3rbug

    My understanding is that it will format your HD and use up only 2 tb worth of data.

  • Chris

    I think I am going to stick with the super small 32 gig san disk flash drive. For only 17 bucks and convenience of being super small It will be perfect till I need more space.

    • Linskarmo

      I heard that you’re not supposed to use flash drives for game storage.

      • cusman

        That’s what I read with explanation saying frequent read/write of your game save file can degrade the flash drive rapidly.

    • Superstick

      Where can I buy one?

  • Jason Edokpa

    *3ds stories*
    dang auto-correct

  • Gaming Teenager

    I’m getting a Wii U for Christmas, so can anyone tell me how it is like?

  • Superrty

    Hmm i think ill get that cheap 320gb one.

  • Nintendonoob

    Will Wii U be able to play songs while your playing a game? I wanna find out because I loved that with the 360 and I wanna make sure if I can do that with Wii U

  • Linskarmo

    25 gigs should be fine for me. But thanks for posting all the info!

  • Bicentennial_Pidgeon

    1tb toshiba canvio. Black friday, $60.

  • JB

    “Or maybe you’ve got the black edition but either play a ton of games or want to extend Nintendo’s latest console with access to music, movies and games that you own.”

    Can I hook up my USB storage device and enjoy my music and movies on the Wii U? If so, how?

    • meh

      Same question here. I plugged a USB drive into my Wii U yesterday to see if I could watch an MP4 video on it somehow, and it just offered to format the drive for me. I ended up putting it in my XBox and watching it there. It would be awful nice if I could somehow watch movie files on the system, especially if that means I can watch them on the Gamepad with headphones when the TV is in use.

    • Gourmand

      I think this feature is gonna be part of Nintendo TVii, at least i hope so.

    • lakersfan

      Methinks Rob is confused.

    • cusman

      There are really tiny sized (less than 20MB for each of them) applications on Wii U already for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, and Hulu Plus which can allow streaming Video content to the Wii U (no storage required).

      People could also just use the built in browser for anything else like Amazon Cloud Music Player, Pandora, Sony’s Music Unlimited… whatever works in a HTML5 compliant browser and doesn’t unreasonably block the Wii U fully HTML5 compliant browser.

  • Madmagican

    With storage space dropping at inconcievable rates recently, I think I’ll wait a little bit until a 2TB harddrive is the current equivalent of a 512MB usb …..shouldn’t be more than a year and a half

  • Cheezr

    ” or want to extend Nintendo’s latest console with access to music, movies and games that you own”

    maybe i am missing something but how would you play your music or movies or games? I don’t see a media player included on the main menu?
    Did I miss something?


  • Zero

    Completely unrelated but does that photo look like an area right beside the beginning of the bay level (you know, the one in the hut in which you bought stars with 10 blue coins) in Super Mario Sunshine?

  • lakersfan

    Just to put things into perspective, how much memory does Trine 2 take to download.

    • lakersfan


    • cusman

      I don’t remember the exact but I think 1.5 GB (give or take .5 GB)

  • Jetty

    Have a Basic, love it. 8gb only, don’t care. If you need space you don’t have to purchase an “official” Nintendo harddrive *cough* *cough* xbox *cough*. This generation just hates Nintendo, plain and simple. F#$king FPS’s…

  • Joesatmoes

    Im getting a Deluxe, and only getting a hard drive when i see that im running low on space or if i have no more. Im lazy like that.

    • Kahhhhyle

      Me too I was looking at hard drive on black Friday. Only to decide eh I’ll buy one when I have 3 gigs left haha

    • JumpMan

      procrastination FTW!

  • DCHook

    Pretty sure the guidance was not to use bus-powered external HDDs — some of the recommended options are bus-powered so be wary. I’d look for a drive with a separate power adapter.

  • Sonic Chang


    My Seagate goflex requries a y-cable to work with the Wii U, which it does not come with. I suggest you all carefully unwrap your hard drives so you can easily return it in case it does not work with your Wii U. Also just because your Wii U formats a Hard Drive does not mean it can read games off it well (could be a lack of power from 1 usb port, y-cable could be a fix for usb powered devices), so try playing games off it before you throw away the packaging and reciept!!!

    • Chazprime

      Likewise, I bought one of the WD drives because of the tiny size and discovered that the Wii U can’t power it – many of the drives on that list won’t work either.

  • Tobbe

    What format does the external become after formated in wii u. Can files be transfered between 2 external wii u formated ext.hdd and still work?

  • chard007

    WARNING: The Toshiba Canvio 320GB drive does NOT work with the Wii U. It shuts itself down after a bit and does not spin back up. This also causes the Wii U to lock up. I am going to try using a y cable to see if that helps.

    • I’m having the same issue. I got a 500GB and it keeps freezing my Wii U.

      • cusman

        Use a Y USB cable and it will probably work fine (mine does).

        • I have a 500GB, too.  Where did you buy the Y cable?  Brand?  Thanks.

  • revolution5268

    whats the difference between External Hard Drives and USB Storage for the Wii U?

    • cusman

      Although USB-Stick type storage will work on the Wii U, I believe it is officially discouraged by Nintendo because they degrade in performance with frequent read/writes over time. They are good for document storage, pictures, etc… but Game Save files get frequent read/write and this can degrade their performance and stability rapidly.

      Stick to an External HDD with its own power, or a Bus Powered while getting yourself a Y USB cable.

  • indirect76

    Do not get a solid state drive for your Wii U. The USB 2.0 bottleneck will make the extra speed pointless.

    • cusman

      The SSD will still perform faster, use less energy, be quieter, and be more stable than a regular 5400rpm or even 7200rpm External USB drive even on USB 2.0, but it would be 300-400% slower than its full potential which would only be achieved if the Wii U was supporting USB 3.0.

      SSD are much more expensive per GB than regular HDD. So this is still good advice. Get more capacity for less cost than SSD which will not be fully utilized to boost performance even if you do (due to USB 2.0).

      • Hi. Does the SSD works fine or I need a Y cable?

        • cusman

          You can get a USB Y Cable from for $5 or so. From my experience so far even if your USB SSD or HDD are working with regular USB cable, there are times when the drive asks for more power than they get and then your software can crash. Using the Y cable ensures the drive you are using gets sufficient power. Alternatively, you can use an external USB drive with it’s own power source which is what Nintendo has endorsed/recommended.

  • The_fuzz_buzz

    Are the “external hard-drives” just like the thing that gives the Wii U it’s memory, except for it’s external, and it gives additional memory???

    • cusman

      External Hard-Drive is storage for save files and downloaded software, patches, or add-on content. It does not increase “system” memory which is internal.

      The Wii U also come with either 8GB or 32GB internal Flash-Drive storage which are used for the Operating System and whatever else you want to store to their available capacity.

      If you got the 32GB model, every single launch retail game physical discs (patches and save files go on storage), and every single download only title from eShop, you would still easily have over 20GB left.

      The external HDD will only be needed by people that intend/prefer to buy games digitally instead of physical disks OR soon enough with even moderate use by people that bought the 8GB model which only gives them 3GB of useable space (~5 used by OS).

  • Revolution5268

    whats the difference between these two?

  • Smitty

    Gunna see how long the 32gb lasts me. Does anyone know if there is an option to upgrade your hdd. Say you have a 500gb external and find a year or so down the line its full. Could you buy a 2tb one format it and tramsfer the content from your old ezternal to your new larger one?

    • cusman

      You are currently able to transfer content from HDD to internal and back to HDD using System Settings Data Management options, but this is only feasible on 32GB Wii U model for something large like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 or Just Dance 4 which are both around 17GB.

      Conceivably you could transfer to internal, connect your bigger drive, transfer to that and slowly hope all your data from 500GB to 2TB. This would be a slow and painful process.

      If that same Data Management option recognizes you have two drives connected and lets you just transfer from old to new, and furthermore doesn’t make you do one software at a time, it would be easier than the process on PS3 (which is easier than what you have to do on X360).

  • I got a 2tb Seagate at Target for $79

  • Superstick

    I want the one from newegg!

  • cusman

    I just used my old Western Digital 500GB Passport drive. Since it is a USB Bus Powered drive (no separate power adapter), I had to use a Y USB cable which uses up both of the USB slots on the back of the Wii U. The same drive had previously been used with multiple Windows laptops, Apple laptops, and also the PS3 with a regular USB cable that could power it, but for Wii U, using the Y USB cable was necessary.

    If you get a USB HDD with it’s own power, then normal USB cable will work just fine. Since the Wii U will format the drive and make it proprietary format, don’t buy more capacity than the 2TB maximum that the Wii U would utilize.

  • X3Charlie

    Wait I’m confused. Can’t we just use 32GB SDHC cards with the SD slot? Why do we need USB adapter?