The Wii U doesn’t have a hard drive like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Instead, Nintendo (NTDOY) chose to include flash storage in two capacities: 8GB and 32GB. Unfortunately, the actual amount of storage users will have access to is significantly less than what’s advertised on the box. As Kotaku explains, after formatting the internal storage, the 8GB model has 7.2GB of storage leftover and the 32GB Wii U has 29GB of storage. Then, the Wii U operating system takes another 4.2GB of storage out of that, and leaves a grand total of 3GB and 24.8GB of storage for saving games, movies, downloadable content, etc. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Wii U doesn’t have a lot of storage, especially for those picking up the 8GB basic set.
In fact, Nintendo even points out that the 3GB that 8GB Wii U owners buy won’t have enough storage to store digitally downloaded versions of NintendoLand, which weighs in a 3.2GB and just has enough room to store the 2GB New Super Mario Bros. Wii U.
But, all isn’t lost if you can’t get one of the sold-out 32GB Deluxe Sets because the Wii U supports external USB hard drives with up to 2TB of storage. As is typical with Nintendo, always choosing to complicate things, the company says high-capacity flash drives are supported, but it doesn’t recommend using them because read/write speeds could affect the console’s performance.
To make what should be a simple plug and play USB hard drive even more annoying, Kotaku writes “If it’s a plug-in hard drive, you can connect it to the Wii U. If it’s a portable hard disk drive that is supposed to be powered by the console, you will need to get a Y-cable to use it.” Great, so some hard drives will need a special cable just to keep it powered – a cable that’s not included in the box. Well, that’s just insulting.