Can Nintendo Switch download in sleep mode?


I remember being hesitant at downloading large games on my Nintendo Switch. 

When I finally pushed the button and preordered ‘Luigi’s Mansion 3’, I started to wonder the strangest things. Would it download automatically but most of all could the Nintendo Switch download in sleep mode.

After all, I wanted to wake up on the day of release and have the game install and ready to play.

Not to have to sit and watch a  progress bar and turn the Switch on to trigger the download?

6GB install size is a nightmare when you don’t have the fastest internet speeds. 

Better yet can the Switch even download in sleep mode? I have only ever downloaded small indie games that download in seconds, minutes at the most.

I’m usually glued to the progress bar, eager to play! 

Can Nintendo Switch download in sleep mode? The Nintendo Switch can indeed download in sleep mode. As long as you have space for the download whether it be on the Nintendo Switch’s internal storage or you have expanded with a microXD SD card. The Switch will even download in sleep mode regardless of whether it is docked or not.

It should go without saying that the Nintendo Switch needs to be connected to the internet for any downloading to be happening.

But downloading on the Switch seems simple until you start looking for basic features like a download queue, only to find that they are absent.

Can the Nintendo Switch download in sleep mode?

Downloading games isn’t a problem exclusive to digital preorders. 

You can set a game to download and then just put your Switch to sleep and it will carry on downloading.

There is unfortunately no way to check if a download is complete. Apart from turning your Switch back on and seeing if it still has a process bar.

It would be nice if you could have a text or notification sent to your phone. The great thing about this aspect of the software is that Nintendo can upgrade it at any point so you never know what’s around the corner.

The Nintendo Switch will happy just keep doing its own thing in the download department but there are a few things for you to be aware of.

Your Switch needs to be conceded to the internet and you will also need some free storage.

Sounds simple, but did you know that when downloading a game you can’t split the install of a game over the two different types of storage.

Make sure you have space on your hard drive or MicroSD. If your Switch can’t find the full space required for the download then it will not work.

You might think you have the download space but it might not be all in one place.

This isn’t going to be much of an issue with small indie games but when it comes to big games it is just something to be aware of.

The average size for a Nintendo first-party game is about 7GB, with ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ being one of Nintendo’s largest games weighing in at 14GB. Space can start to become an issue. 

Make sure you have some free space on your Nintendo Switch or the download won’t work regardless of whether it’s sleeping or not. 

The Nintendo Switch will even download updates that you didn’t start. You might get a seasonal update in Animal Crossing, for example, it would be a pain if you had to wait for the update to happen every time you want to play a game. 

The Nintendo Switch is not even required to be in the dock for the downloads to work. If I’m downloading a big game I just stick it on charge and go and do something else.

Can the Nintendo Switch queue up multiple downloads?

But what if you have multiple games you want to download?

Nintendo switch limits downloads to one item at a time.

Like all download managers, the Nintendo Switch needs to order the downloads into a queue. This happens behind the curtains as there is no visible queue and no way to order items.

This is probably due to making it simple for more novice gamers. As a result, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have to juggle its memory around for multiple downloads.

Items that you want to download, happen in the order they are bought or redownloaded. This means that if you download three games: Mario Odyssey, Zelda, and a small indie game like Hades. 

They would download in that order even though Hades is a far smaller game it would download last.

Even stranger is that the three-game icons/titles would appear on your home screen before they join the invisible download queue.

If you want Hades to download first then you would have to pause or cancel the Mario and Zelda download.

Does the Nintendo Switch download fast in sleep mode when docked?

Now, this is a hard experiment to do. There are just so many variables.

I found a youtube video by ‘GameXplain’ where he tested if downloads were faster if the Nintendo Switch was in sleep mode.

If you don’t have time to watch the video then he found that the switch can download roughly 1GB in 10 minutes when on in docked.

1GB in 9 minutes when in sleep mode when docked.

This is by far not conclusive evidence but it does appear that it could in fact have faster downloads if your Switch is docked and in sleep mode.

This sort of makes sense as the Switch isn’t in a constant state of readiness.

If this was true it would take you around 5 and a half hours to download NBA 2K20, 33 GB in docked mode. 

But only 5 hours in sleep mode while docked. Meaning that the download could save you 30 minutes of download time. 

The Nintendo Switch is increasing having small improvements made to the software.

Let’s hope Nintendo can find a way to make a visible download manager. As more people are willing to buy games digitally this will become more of an issue.

Ian Malsbury

Since being introduced to the Amstrad, Ian has been hooked on gaming. Motivated by a love of worldbuilding and story-driven gaming experiences, Ian now has a place to write about his passion.

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