So, let's say that the latest episode of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People has just come out, and you're understandably quite eager to download said episode onto your Wii™ console. However, when you attempt to exchange your Wii Points™ for the digital goodness, you're presented with a message that says you don't have the necessary free memory blocks. What does this mean, and what are you going to do now?
When you get that message, it means your Wii doesn't have enough space free to fit the new episode. The available space on your Wii might be taken up by saved game data or "channels" (i.e. WiiWare or Virtual Console games that you have downloaded, or content channels such as the Nintendo Channel). Fortunately, filling up the Wii's available memory is not the end of the world. With a couple of easy steps, you can free up space to download new games without any risk to the ones you've already got. So, let's get to it.
First, make a note of how many blocks you need to free up to be able to download the game, versus how many you have available. Both numbers should be visible on the screen.
The SD card is a little memory card that can help you back up your data and manage your space quite effectively. The Wii is now compatible with SD cards that are 32 Gigabytes (it used to be 2GB) or less.
Insert your SD card into the card slot, which is located just below the game disc slot. The label side of the memory card should face toward the disc slot when you insert it.
New for 2009: SD card channel and updates!
In late March 2009, Nintendo released an update for the Wii which added a new way to use SD cards with the console. Once your Wii has downloaded the newest update, a new "SD Card Channel" will appear on the Wii Channels main menu. From this new menu screen, you can access any stored games on the card and play them without going through the Data Management interface.
When you load up the SD card menu and select a game stored on the card, the game will load to the Wii Console's memory, and then the game will start automatically once that process is done. We tried this with a couple of different Strong Bad episodes, and it took about 15-20 seconds each time. It was fairly painless, and there's a progress bar that gives a clear way to judge how long it will take to load the game to memory. Not too shabby!
If you don't have one of these cards, there are other ways to manage your memory without one. So keep reading!
Using the Wii remote, go to the Data Management section in the Wii Options Menu: Wii (Main) Menu » Wii Options » Data Management. From here, you can choose to manage the two main things that eat up blocks on the Wii: Save Data and Channels.
Almost any game you've played stores Save Data on the Wii. Save Data (unsurprisingly) includes your saved games, game-specific settings, and other information from each Wii game you've played. These entries typically take up far fewer blocks than any downloadable game you purchase, but if you have a lot of save data for games you're no longer playing, you may want to remove the data to make room for new downloads.
Using the Wii remote, select Save Data from the Data Management menu. You will see two options: Wii and GameCube. Select Wii.
On the next screen, you'll see graphics that represent the save data for all of the games you've played on your Wii. Select one by pointing at it and pressing A. You now have the choice to Copy the data to the SD card you inserted, or Erase it. (Note that data for some games can't be copied, and can only be erased. If you can't copy the data onto your SD card, you'll see a message telling you this.)
After you erase the data, the number of open blocks on your Wii (displayed in the lower right corner of the screen) will increase. If you have copied the data to an SD card, you still need to select Erase to remove the data from the Wii.
Copy and erase as much save data as you want, then return to the Save Data menu. If you have played GameCube games on your Wii, you can select Nintendo GameCube and repeat the process.
The bulk of the Wii's storage space will likely be taken up by Wii "Channels", which include games you have downloaded for WiiWare and the Virtual Console, as well as content channels such as the Nintendo Channel or Everybody Votes. Thankfully, Nintendo makes it easy to remove a channel and download it later for free. (That's right, if you delete a game you've already paid for, you won't have to pay for it again!)
Like Save Data, Channels can be copied onto an SD card or deleted. Channels are bigger than save data, and removing them frees up a lot more space, but they can also take longer to copy onto an SD card. For this reason, you may just want to erase channels instead of copying them.
Your purchase history is safely stored on your account, so erasing downloaded games never means having to re-buy them.
At some point after removing Save Data or channels from the Wii, you may decide you want it back. No problem!
To move data from an SD card to the Wii: Go to the Wii's Save Data menu or Channel menu and select the "SD Card" tab. Here you can see the data stored on the SD card. Select the data you want to move and choose Copy to copy the data back to your Wii.
To re-download a game or channel: Go to the Wii Shop Channel. Select Titles You've Downloaded for a handy list of everything you have ever downloaded onto your Wii. From here, simply select the game or channel you wish to download again.