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Understanding data management is more important than you might think for Nintendo Switch players. With a limited amount of space and lots of personal information stored on the system, it’s imperative to know who will see it, how to remove what you don’t need, and how to get rid of any trace of personal information when it’s time to sell. One of your most powerful data management tools is a factory reset. 

What is a Factory Reset?

A factory reset restores the Switch’s software to its condition when you first bought it. All your personal information is removed, saved games are deleted, and the software is rolled back to what was originally on the Switch. It’s like you have a brand new Switch – at least as far as the operating system goes.

Why Should I Factory Reset My Nintendo Switch?

There are a few reasons you might want to reset your Switch.

  • If you’re going to sell the Switch, you should reset it beforehand. It’s important not to let other people get your private information, even if it’s only the data on your Switch. Keep in mind: if a person accesses your account from the Switch, they can connect with your friends, use your games, and mismanage your saved data.
  • A factory reset deletes all your data. If you don’t have enough space for new games and apps, a factory reset is a quick way to solve your problem. According to Nintendo, if you’re using system 10.0.0, it should only take about five minutes.
  • You can also factory reset it if you feel like you have some kind of bug or corrupted files. Since it wipes the operating system and your data, you will start fresh with new files that aren’t damaged.

Whatever your reason, rest assured that resetting your Switch is quick, easy, and useful. 

What Happens When I Reset My Switch?

When you reset the Switch, you lose all the data saved. The data on the microSD card also becomes unusable, and you won’t be able to recover it.

Your Nintendo account will be removed entirely from the Switch. Don’t worry – your account will still exist, and you can put it back on that Switch or another one. However, it won’t be on once you restart the console. 

Your primary console registration will be removed if you’re connected to the internet. It will still be registered as your primary console if you aren’t. You’ll have to remove it online to set up a new primary. 

Preparing to Reset the Switch

Before resetting the Switch, ensure you have a working internet connection if you’re not planning to use it again. That way, when you’re ready, you can switch to your new console being the primary.

You should also back up all your data and remove any game cards. Beyond that, there isn’t much you need to do. It’s a very straightforward process.

Resetting the Switch

You’re good to go and reset your console when your data is backed up. It shouldn’t take long, even if you’re resetting an older version of the Switch software for some reason.

  1. Put the Joy-Cons in place and make sure the console is connected to the internet. 
  2. Navigate to the Home screen.
  3. Choose the System Settings icon. It’s represented by a gear symbol.
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  4. Choose System.
  5. Select Formatting Options.
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  6. Enter the parental control PIN if requested. If you don’t have parental controls on your system, you won’t be asked for one.
  7. Choose Initialize Console.
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  8. Choose Next.
  9. Choose Initialize.
  10. Wait until the Switch is done resetting, and don’t attempt to use it in the meantime.

When the process is over, your Switch will have software like a brand new console.

Resetting the Switch in Maintenance Mode

If you want to keep your console but reset the software, you can use the maintenance mode to reset it and save your information. Your saved data, screenshots, and personal information will still be on the console.

  1. Turn off the Switch.
  2. Press Volume Up and Volume down at the same time. Keep them pressed down during the next step.
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  3. Press the Power button and wait until Maintenance Mode appears. Once it’s on the screen, you can release the volume buttons.
  4. Select Initialize Console Without Deleting Save Data. You may have to input a PIN if one is required for your system.
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  5. Choose Next.
  6. Choose Initialize Console Without Deleting Save Data.

Remember that you’ll still lose the information on the microSD, except screenshots. The data won’t be deleted, but you won’t be able to use it anymore, so it’s effectively gone. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Resetting My Switch Delete My Nintendo Account?

Resetting your Switch won’t delete your Nintendo account entirely, but it will be removed from the console. Any cloud data or purchases you’ve made on your account will still be available. You can reinstall them on the Switch you reset or put them on a new Switch.

Will Resetting My Switch Delete My Games?

When you initialize your Switch, you lose all the data on your system. That includes any local saves, game files, and the games themselves. You can always redownload anything associated with your system in the future, though. 

Is a Factory Reset the Same as a Hard Reset?

No, they aren’t the same thing. A hard reset of the Switch will completely power down and restart the console. It can help eliminate errors. However, a factory reset deletes all your data and returns the Switch to how it was when you unboxed it.

How Do I Reset My Switch if I Can’t Remember My PIN?

Nintendo can help you recover your information so you can reset your account. You should choose the Parental Control icon on the Home menu, press the plus or minus button to get help, choose the Forgot PIN option, and note the Inquiry Number. It’s crucial to stay on the screen. The Inquiry Number is only valid as long as you’re on it. You can use this webpage to complete the process. 

You will also need the console’s serial number, and there is a small fee. 

What if the Switch Gets Stuck on Initializing and Doesn’t Make Progress?

If more than 20 minutes have passed without the percentage bar increasing, hold down the power button until the screen goes black. It may take a while to start up again, but some Switch users say this can help you get back into the system and start the factory reset process again. If you’re worried it might damage your device, contact Nintendo before proceeding. 


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