Today I’m going to teach you how to setup Emunand on SXOS custom firmware for the Nintendo Switch. We’ll also talk a little about what that means and why you might want to use it.
What you’ll need:
- An SD Card with at least 32GB of free space (optional)
Emunand is a way to copy the contents of your existing system memory onto your SD card, and then use that copy instead of the built in memory. This includes your firmware, game saves, and even installed games if you installed them before adding an SD card. A few reasons to do this are to keep the system firmware lower in case a better exploit is discovered in an older version, to try and prevent a ban from using mods or backups, or just to save some wear and tear on the system chip. It’s a lot easier to replace an SD card than the memory chip soldered to the motherboard.
First you’ll need to boot into the SXOS pre-execution environment (pxe). To do this, shut down your switch, or reboot it if you’re on 2.9.2 or higher. As you power it back on, press and hold the volume + button until the pxe menu pops up. Go to Options, then choose EmuNAND, and create EmuNAND. You’ll see three options, so lets discuss what they mean and which you should choose.
The first is Hidden Partition on SD card. This means that SXOS will format your SD card (THIS WILL DELETE ALL YOUR INSTALLED GAMES, but your save data is on the NAND, so it will be fine, you’ll just have to reinstall) and it will create 2 partitions. One will be a hidden 32GB partition, that the switch (and your computer) won’t see, and the other will be the visible partition which will be the rest of your SD card. So for a 256GB card this will leave 224GB (minus the formatting space, but please don’t get me started on that).
I use this option myself for two reasons. The main one is that I can’t accidentally move or delete my EmuNAND if it’s a hidden partition. I’m much more particular about keeping my hard drives clean than I am about my desk, and I’ve been known to be a little overzealous in the past. “What’s this folder? Eh, I probably don’ t need it. DELETED!” (If you read that in a Strong Bad voice you get bonus points. If you don’t know who Strong Bad is, don’t tell me, it’ll just make me feel old…)
The second reason is that in my testing, the hidden partition option runs a bit faster than the files option. This could just be my own experience, and could also depend on the SD card you’re using, so YMMV.
The second option is “Files on the SD Card”. This is not a bad option, and I’ve already detailed why I don’t use it above, but there is at least one significant reason to choose this option. It doesn’t require you to format your SD card. You can always redownload your games, or copy your SD card to a computer and back, but this is a way to get EmuNAND up and running without losing the time it would take to transfer all that data. As a side note, some people say you’re more likely to be banned if you use this type of EmuNAND, but I have yet to find a convincing first-hand account.
The third option is, “Files on system storage”. This is the worst option, but in some cases it’s the only option. For the first two choices you’ve got to have at least 32GB of space free on your memory card, and that space is used up by the EmuNAND files or partition. If you have a 64GB card, you’ll only have 32gb left after setting it up. That’s not a whole lot of space, but if you don’t have an SD card at all, it get’s worse. The system storage option doesn’t use an SD card at all, but it creates the EmuNAND files on the System NAND. If you do this, you lose 16GB of space on your system storage. After your firmware and system files, you’ll have about 13GB of space for game saves, or using the scenario where you don’t have an SD card at all, for installing eshop games. That’s not even enough for most first party Nintendo games, like Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild. If you feel the need to use EmuNAND but you don’t have an SD card, the best advice I can give you is to just buy one. This 256GB card is only $35 at the time of writing, or if that’s too pricey, here’s a 128GB one for $20.
Hopefully now you’ve got enough of an understanding to choose the option that is best for you, so go ahead and choose it, and confirm if necessary. The EmuNAND creation process takes about as long as doing a NAND backup, because that’s essentially what it’s doing, so grab a snack, go for a run, catch up on the latest Netflix drama, or checkout Homestarrunner.com if you still don’t know who Strong Bad is. You won’t regret it.
Anyway, once it’s complete, you can hit back, and you should notice an orange button above the “Boot CFW” option that says “EmuNAND Enabled”. If you are ready to boot to EmuNAND, just click the “Boot CFW” option and you’ll boot up into it, and it should look exactly the same as before, but you’re running off the SD card. If you want to test this out, change your theme, then boot into the SXOS pxe again and tap that orange button to change it to disabled, then boot CFW again, and you’ll see your old theme.
*Note* The product links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. You will not pay any extra if you buy from these links, but I will make a small commission. I selected items that I have used or brands that I trust personally.