Flash Storage; External HD; WII U - Which is better, and why?

No love in the Game Room for this question; we’ll try it here: Mod(s) feel free to delete or merge the dupe thread. Thanks.

Researching the subject of external memory storage for my kids’ WII U has yielded rather confusing results - I’m hoping for some clarification from those more expert in this area.

My kids got a copy of Xenoblade X for Christmas, and in reading about the game (on the Nintendo site, reviews on Amazon, comments on videos of gameplay posted online, etc.) there seems to be confusion/misinformation about using external storage for a game like this.

A few notes: I am in my early fifties, kids are in their low teens. I tend to be the one who is a bit more practically technically savvy (hooking stuff up, hardware, getting downloads to work, etc.) whereas they are more functionally proficient (as in, they kick my butt at just about any game they put their youthful little digits on) though I am finally getting good enough at Monster Hunter 4 to run with them. Finally.

So, my query:

Flash drives are suggested by some people as very good external storage for larger games like Xeno (first time any of us has tried a game like this - MH4U is next closest so far). Others absolutely trash the idea, citing that flashes have a limited lifespan, which I was unaware of until recently (well, every device has a finite life span, IMO, but I did not really understand what the limitations are on flashes, and have never had a problem with them under other uses).

Can anyone clarify this for me? If the issue is something like “can’t rewrite more than 100K times”, does that even matter from a practical gaming standpoint? I certainly don’t want to lose save data after getting deep into a complex game like this. I would cry. No, really. Cry.

Second, I have a nice 1TB external hard drive I could use, but it is USB powered, and Nintendo notes on their site to use a self-powered HD for the WII U if you use one.

Is this really necessary? External HD’s don’t seem to use much power to run, and should get plenty from the USB connection, yes?

Finally, is external storage really needed at all? Gamers at message boards I looked through are all over the map on this point, as well as about the best type of storage. We haven’t used much of the WII’s own storage, but with 3 people playing a game like this, I imagine load times could bog down a bit…or a lot.

I turn to you, Dopers - best in the world at sorting out problems of this nature.

Your thoughts?
Thanks for any insight!

FWIW, specs on the above mentioned devices:

WD Elements external HD; 1 TB; USB 3.0

SanDisk 16 GB Flash Drive; USB 3.0; (up to) 245 MB/s read, 50 MB/s write

The Wii is only USB 2.0 though, I think, if that matters.

Flash is cheap and more robust and can be moved around during usage.

External HDD needs to stand still during usage.

USB ports on the WII don’t have enough power to run an USB only powered external HDD by itself, regardless on how little power that drive uses, it succeeds a the power the WII can supply to that port.

Both devices die one way or the other.

  • The Flash drive deteriorates.
  • The HDD fails due to falls, overheat, connector breakage.

Thanks for the reply, Doughbag.

I would like to think the flash will well outlast our collective game time, but some of the gaming message boards I have looked at have listed a number of reservations about them.

It could also just be ultra-serious hard core gamer types nitpicking, too.

I may just use the flash and copy it to the HD every so often, or after any major developments / level ups, etc. Bit of a pain in the backside, but I’m not really seeing any other alternatives at this point.

As mentioned, the research I have conducted so far is contradictory. I’ll keep at it, though…

Thanks again.

Nintendo officially says to never use a solid state (flash) drive with the Wii U. If you hook up an external drive, it will use it for frequent read/write cycles which SSDs are not meant to handle. It will shorten the life of it considerably, well beyond the normal deterioration rate of flash memory. (Or rather, the deterioration rate is the same, but the allowed read/write cycles get used up much, much more quickly than you would expect)

E: It’s possible Nintendo is being overly cautious, but given the cost of flash memory compared to SSDs, I’d listen.

You can always use a USB Y-Cable to get enough power to actually run an external hard drive. (Since it pulls power from 2 usb ports.)

A USB memory stick is not a solid state hard disk drive

In the future, please don’t cross post but report a thread or PM a mod to move it. I have closed the other.

General Questions Moderator

It’s even better, if you get one, that comes with it’s own power supply unit.

The Y-Cable is not always a reliable solution, it may be enough to run the drive, but not enough to start it up (depending on the drive).