How Long Do Switch Cartridges Last?

The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid console that combines the best aspects of handheld and living room gaming into one package. You can enjoy your games on the go, or dock the Switch and play on a big screen. Game cartridges on the Switch use the latest flash storage technology to deliver more storage space than a dual-layer Blu-Ray disc with fast transfer speeds.

How long do Switch cartridges last? This will vary from one game to another, based on the frequency with which you use the cartridge and the conditions in which you store it. Generally speaking, Switch cartridges should last 10 years under normal conditions if you store them properly.

Both the Switch and Switch Lite come with 32GB of built-in eMMC storage, which isn’t enough for more than a few games. You can also expand the Switch’s storage by using microSDHC and microSDXC cards. Nintendo recommends SD cards with transfer speeds of 60 to 90 MBPS for an optimal gaming experience (and minimal load times).

How Long Do Switch Cartridges Last?

Nintendo Switch cartridges can last a decade or more depending on the conditions in which they are stored. The lifespan of a Switch cartridge is also dependent on how much you use it. Because usage frequency determines how often data is read from the cartridge’s ROM chip.

Unlike old Game Boy cartridges, Nintendo Switch cartridges don’t have batteries or separate flash memory chips for storing user progress. There is only a ROM chip, and save data is written to the console’s internal flash memory (of which there is 32GB). Even if you are playing a game downloaded to the SD card, save data is still stored internally.

Flash memory tends to retain its information a bit longer when you occasionally power it up to “refresh” each storage cell. The internal memory of a Switch can last for a decade or more, just like the game cartridges. Assuming a room temperate that is around 25°C, with humidity up to 50%.

How Many GB Can A Switch Cartridge Hold?

A Switch cartridge can hold up to 32GB of data, which is less than a dual-layer Blu-Ray disc. But this is still more than enough for any Switch game. Games larger than this typically separate their content into physical cartridges and digital downloads.

In 2020, it was rumored that Nintendo was going to use the XtraROM-based Macronix chips in its cartridges. Apparently, a custom version with 64GB was in the works since 2018, but production delays forced it into 2020. It is still unclear whether there is a 64GB version of the Switch Cartridge out there.

Publishers are given options on the cartridge size. If you have a 1GB game, there is no point printing it to a 32GB cartridge. Hence, there are 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB cartridge models.

Can I Copy My Switch Cartridge To An SD Card?

You cannot transfer a game from the cartridge to an SD card. That would be grounds for piracy and would allow malicious users to exploit the security system preventing them from creating multiple copies of a game. Besides, the cartridge data is read-only and progress is saved to the internal flash memory.

If you’re worried about running out of space with digital downloads, get a microSD card for your Switch. Capacities up to 2TB are supported. And you can transfer games from the internal storage to the SD card.

What Type Of Storage Is A Nintendo Switch Cartridge?

There are varying answers to this question. Some say it’s a type of modern Mask-ROM, while others say it’s standard 3D NAND (flash memory). Nintendo is partnered with Macronix, a Taiwan-based memory manufacturer and global leader in ROM technology.

Macronix does have a proprietary storage format called XtraROM that combines the best qualities of flash with Mask ROM. The result is a high-capacity ROM chip that is affordable to produce, but also capable of retaining data for very long periods of time. Whether Nintendo is using XtraROM in its cartridges is anyone’s guess.

Is It Okay To Leave A Cartridge In My Switch?

It is perfectly fine to leave the cartridge in your Switch after you’re done playing the game. You can turn your Switch on later and continue playing, the cartridge won’t get damaged or lose its memory. And if you do remove the cartridge for storage after finishing a game, you should close the slot with its cover flap.

Because if you don’t dirt and moisture might get in. This will prevent the gold-plated contacts on your Switch cartridge from sitting properly and can hinder data transfer. It’s also a good idea to clean any old Switch cartridges that have dirty contact pins (you can use a cotton swap with some 99% isopropyl alcohol).

Are Switch Cartridges More Expensive?

Because of how the ROM chips on game cartridges are manufactured and packaged inside their shell, these things will always be more expensive than discs. Hence, game publishers are given the choice to use a lower-capacity cartridge if they have small games. Still, a cartridge will always cost more than a disc.

That’s why many game publishers skip the cartridge altogether and just provide you with a download code inside the box. Some do it half-and-half style, with part of the game content on a cartridge and the remainder available as DLC.


The Nintendo Switch is an awesome console, pushing the limits of what is possible in a handheld format. It uses some very advanced cartridge tech to combine reliability and longevity with increased transfer speeds. If you’re worried about your Switch cartridge dying of old age- don’t.

A Switch cartridge will probably outlast the console. Just remember to shield your cartridge from things like moisture, extreme temperatures, dust, etc. Store your cartridges in a dry place (you can also use desiccant packs to keep moisture levels down).


As long as I can remember myself I always enjoyed video games. I had amazing moments playing them and that's why I became a game developer, to create amazing experiences for the players. Read More About Me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts