One of the issues with the Wii was that it wasn’t big on digital distribution. Part of this was down to the limit storage space of the console. This time round, Nintendo have changed their act with the Wii U, with their eShop now offering indie games and major retail release to download.
The Wii U comes in two sizes: 8 GB for the basic model and 32 GB for the premium. However, some of that space is used by the system software, meaning you will have 3 GB and 25 GB of storage space respectively. If you are going to be downloading a lot of games then chances are you will want to expand this storage space at some point, especially if the eShop will be your primary way of consuming games.
This time round, Nintendo’s console can be expanded with USB hard drives. The drive has to be powered externally or it has to use a Y-cable to use two USB ports on the Wii U. Providing the console is up to date then you can use a drive of any size, as previously 2 TB was the maximum drive size allowed. However, although you can now use larger drives, the system can still only access 2 TB of the data. That means if you have something like a 4 TB drive then you will only be able to store games on half of it.
Nintendo does have a list of drives that they have tried and tested to work on the Wii U. However, any drive that fits the above specifications should work perfectly fine on the system.
Bear in mind that Nintendo does not recommend using USB sticks to expand the console’s storage. They say that this is because flash storage has a limited number of read/writes that are allowed. Game data needs to be accessed continually in order to run, so a USB stick is not suitable.
To use the drive with the Wii U, first turn off the console and plug the drive into the USB port at the back. Turn on the console and you will be told to format the drive. You need to do so, but formatting will erase anything stored on the hard drive. This means that if you have already used it before then you need to back up everything on it. Also, once your drive is formatted for the Wii U then you can’t use it on your computer without reformatting it again.
The Wii U automatically manages where it saves your data, but it is possible to take control of this if you wish. Open System Settings and then select the Data Management tab. It will display the system memory and your drive, along with how much space is available on each. You will be able to view what data is stored on each and transfer it across to the other storage method if needs be. You can also delete any data in order to free up space (but bear in mind there is no recycle bin – if you delete, your data is gone).