How To: Use NAND Emulation on the Wii

Post last updated: 12th August 2011

So you’ve got your Wii soft-modded and you can run homebrew and stuff (you haven’t? Well, ya could..) – what next? Well, you can install a whole heap of WiiWare, Virtual Console games and applications, but the Wii can only store a couple of hundred MB of stuff on its internal memory before it’s full. When this happens it’s like your drive’s full – you’re going to have to uninstall some things to install others.

Or… you could use NAND emulation to install as much stuff as you want! Sound more like it? Let’s get it on!

Intial prep

The Wii has 512MB of flash (i.e. NAND) memory, much like a USB stick – and it uses it to store the Wii operating system, save games, channels/WiiWare/VC stuff etc. When you soft-mod your Wii you’ve (hopefully!) backed up the system memory so you can restore it to default, in case you want to. If you’ve backed up your NAND system memory using BootMii, this is all well and good, but it’s not what we’re going to be using as the basis for our NAND emulation (i.e. the backed up nand.bin file) – we’re going to strip out just what we need to get a bare-bones NAND image (really, just a set of directories) and then use that to install our stuff.

To begin with, we’ve got two options:

  • We can use a SD card to store our installed apps/games/channels (or SDHC card if your firmware is > 4.0, previous version of firmware don’t support SDHC cards), or
  • We can use a compatible USB hard-drive

In this guide I’m going to set things up on a SD card, if you want to use a hard drive you’ll need it partitioned to have TWO partitions (each of which needs to be assigned a drive letter – not sure how? Try this): One large partition for your Wii ISOs which you’ll want to format using something like WBFS Manager, and the other smaller partition you can leave as standard FAT32, just like you’d have on your SD card or a USB stick.

On an SD card we can just use whatever space is available on the card, for hard drives you’re going to have to decide on how big the partition you want to use for NAND emulation is going to be (a couple of GB should do it plenty), assign the rest to the other partition for your WBFS ISOs. I’ve got a 640GB USB drive, so I’d prolly assign around 20 to 25GB for emulation so I’d have stacks of space for ROMs etc. – remember – there are no tools to resize WBFS partitions at the moment – so pick your sizes and get it right first time! =D

Okay, with that out of the way – let’s kick off with the emulation steps:

Step 1 – Get a copy of our Wii’s NAND in usable format

For this we’re going to use Simple FileSystem Dumper 0.2. Download it, create a folder for it in on your SD card under the apps folder, rename the .dol file to boot.dol and launch it through the Homebrew Channel.

1-RunningSFSD

2-RunningSFSD

3-RunningSFSD

Once you’ve run Simple FileSystem Dumper 0.2 you’re going to have a bunch of extra folders on the root of your SD card (or hard-drive, depending) – the new directories are these:

3.5-ExtractedFolders

Make a copy of all these “blank” folders! Later on you can delete the folders off your SD card or HD and copy these “blank” folders back to effectively uninstall any installed WADs. You can prolly use WAD Manager etc. to just uninstall specific WADs, but I haven’t tried it out as yet. The folders are useful and only around 180MB in total, so it’s worth holding on to pristine copies.

Step 2 – [If neccessary] Update CIOS 38 to Revision 14

To use NAND emulation you absolutely need CIOS Revision 14 or higher. My Wii was on Revision 13b or something, so I used Waninkoko’s CIOS Updater and a net connection to get it up to Revision 14. You can find a copy like this

4-CIOS38rev14Install

6-CIOS38rev14Install

7-CIOS38rev14Install

8-CIOS38rev14Install

Step 3 – Preparing the WADs for your emulated NAND

From what I’ve read you can install your WiiWare/Virtual Console WAD files to the emulated NAND using any of the following methods:

  • By using WAD Manager 1.5 or higher.
  • By using NeoGamma R6 or higher.
  • Manually.

Because I formatted my USB Hard drive as a single partition in WBFS format (and I can’t be bothered to fix it up to have two partitions quite yet), and because you must have different source and destination locations at present to install WADs using NAND emulation (that is, SD to HD or HD to SD, not SD to SD or HD to HD) – I’m going to show you how to go with the manual method of installing stuff to your emulated NAND. And for this we’re going to need a little win32 application called wad2NAND.

The way it works is:

  1. Download wad2nand
  2. Extract the zip file
  3. Create a batch file called ConvertWADs.bat in the folder you extracted wad2nand to. Put the following in the batch file:

    Then:

  4. Create a folder called Convert inside the folder where you extracted the wad2nand zip
  5. Copy a bunch of WAD files (As many as you like! Woo-hoo! Or as many as you have space on your emulated NAND location for, really!) into that Convert folder and run your ConvertWADs.bat batch file
  6. Give it a minute to extract all the wads to two folders: ticket and title which will appear in the folder where you extracted wad2nand – remember these folders from earlier?

    8.5-wad2NAND

Update: Although the title and ticket folders hold the core content for games or apps or whatnot, I’ve read that the additional folders hold things like Miis and high-scores and things, so none of the folders are cruft or anything, and if you’re finicky about such things you’re best to hold on to them.

Step 4 – Actually install the extracted WAD files to your emulated NAND

After running wad2nand, the ticket and title folders will contain the installed version of the files to play whatever WADs you’ve converted. You now need to copy these two folders over the top of the “blank” nand folders on the root of your SD card or hard drive. Select [Yes to all] to overwrite things if there are duplicate files – just merge ’em all together. Almost there!

Step 5 – Launch the NAND emulation installed WADs

To do this, I’m going to use an application called Triiforce beta 7. Grab it and launch from the Homebrew Channel, then select your source (SD / HD / Wherever you’ve installed the extracted WADs).

Updated Note: TriiForce beta 7 is now available, at the time of writing TriiForce beta 5 was the latest version available, so that’s what you’ll see in the below screenshots.

8.9-TriForce

9-TriForce

10-TriForce

By selecting the second from top option in TriiForce (showing a WAD version of Backup Launcher in the screenshot above) you can press left and right on the D-Pad of the Wiimote to select which WAD to run, and then just select the Start option above to launch it!

All done! Unlimited installs FTW!

24 thoughts on “How To: Use NAND Emulation on the Wii”

  1. So does this emulate the whole storage area of the wii including saved game data? Seems like doing this on a hard drive partition gets around the 2gb sd limit of the non-sdhc compatible games with large data sets.. (RB2 DLC?).

  2. AFAIK when you do the simple file system dump, it makes a cleaned version of your NAND without saves or anything you don’t need, then, when you run stuff from the NAND emulation using TriiForce or other, whatever you’ve launched will use the emulation space (however much you’ve allocated, like 10GB on a HD or something) for storage.

    So yeah, in theory, you could get around the 2GB limit for downloadable data sets like Rock Band 2 songs… but to do that, you’d have to point Rock Band at the NAND emulation space instead of using the Wii’s internal storage or a SD card – but I’m not sure how you’d go about that, you’d prolly need to launch RB2 from a specific bit of launcher s/w that could point it to the NAND emulation for storage. If such a launcher exists…

    Easier than that, though – you could:
    1.) Set up your NAND emulation
    2.) Install anything you wanted on it, then
    3.) Remove as much as possible from the Wii’s internal memory (as it’d be available through the NAND emulation anyway) – thus freeing up the Wii’s internal memory for all the DLC you wanted.

    Cheers!

  3. I’ve seen videos of someone on RB2 with at least 10gb+(probably 15) of DLC supposedly running from NAND emulation. considering RB2 can only hold 2 gigs on an SD card I see no other way (unless its somehow fake)

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding this, but are you saying that RB2 has a 2GB limit for DLC, even if its read from the nand (the SD card isn’t being emulated obviously)?

    I’ve gotten RB2 to read about a gig’s worth of DLC successfully from the nand emu, anymore and after the main screen it will say the wii’s system memory is full and RB2 will lock up. Now I haven’t stripped the nand emu as I did a full dump (I wanted to keep my saves/settings for wifi), but if there is a 2gig limitation then its pointless for me to even do that. My FAT32 partition is about 30GB

    If this is at all interesting to you drop me an email and I’ll show you how I’ve done this. I’d really like some help.

  4. I’m not saying Rock Band 2 has a 2GB DLC limit, I’m saying that RB2 doesn’t support SDHC cards, so normally you’d have to use a SD card for your DLC – and the limit of SD cards is 2GB :)

    If people are determined to store huge amounts of RB2 DLC on their systems then NAND will be the only way to go. I don’t even play RB2 so how much DLC you can stick on the NAND emu before RB2 starts moaning I couldn’t tell ya – you can prolly find info on tehskeen or gbatemp.

    I guess you used Neogamma to point RB2 at the NAND… will have to give that a go sometime =D

  5. Yeah RB2 will lock up after i’ve dropped more than a gigs worth of APP files in the DLC title folder, saying that the system is full and locks up RB after the main title screen.

    BUT I’ve just recently talked to someone about this and apparently there are unreleased tools which make this possible. I believe him considering that I’ve tried so much crap to get this to work.

  6. I’ve seen the Video on youtube too and was wondering how it could be done. The lack of SDHC support is a big misconception in the Game. I’ve bought tons of DLC, and swapping the SD-Card is terrible. Gelton… can you please tell, how you point your DLC to the emulated NAND? Maybe I can figure a way out, if I have a point to start.

  7. How do i unbrick my wii if the bootmii doesnt work i can only get hommevbrew channel to boot
    I can save my games anymore is there a software that works to unbrick my wii?

  8. Hey r3dux, great tutorial btw. The batch file wont work for me, what can i do? When I try to run it, the DOS screen appears, only for a split second but nothing else happens.

    1. Either the wad2nand.exe file isn’t being found or the Convert folder with the wads in it isn’t being found.

      If you start a command prompt (Start | Run | cmd), and then cd to the location of the batch file and run it you’ll see an error message from which you can work it out (probably something like “wad2nand.exe – no such file or directory”).

      Cheers!

  9. this may sound dumb but how do you “create a batch file “and what exactly am i putting in it ,do i just copy everything from @echo through “%%x” and paste it in?also when you use triforce what does it do exactly does it install say a game like idk say smb2 for vc as a channel in the wii menu or do you have to go to trifore to load/launch every game everytime you want to play a vc game or wiiware game? also i have heard about i think there called forwarders
    that let you launce a vc gamestored on you hd/sd from an icon on the wii channel menu ,how is this different and what would the bennifits be over doing the other way?would it load faster? i guess with only 512mb even if you install forwarders and point them to actuall games/wads on your hd/sd you would eventually run out of space assuming the forwarder needs to install something on the wii nand memory

    1. You create a batch file by creating a file which ends with a .bat extension, and then yes – you copy everything from the “@echo” bit into that file and save it. You might find it easier to create a file called “Convert.bat.txt”, open it with notepad, copy and paste in the contents, save it, close notepad, then rename the file to “Convert.bat” by just stripping off the final “.txt” bit.

      Triiforce just launches games, and can launch them from NAND emulation. The point of it is that you don’t have to use Wii’s internal memory, you can stick all your games on a SD card or USB/USB2 hard drive, so you can install a ton of stuff.

  10. Pingback: Guide: WiiWare & VC from USB : HackMyWii.net
  11. seems like ive got this down, untill the point of running triforce frome the homebrew channel says im missing a .dol of some kind any ideas… ill keep working on it… excellent tutorial cudos to the author

    1. Hmm, well – the exact error message would have been useful, but I’ll do some guessing anyway…

      – If triiforce won’t start from the HBC apps need to be renamed to boot.dol to be used from the HBC – have you renamed your copy of triiforce appropriately?
      – If triiforce will start, but you can’t launch stuff from NAND, sometimes you can choose to use an alternative .dol file to launch the game (i.e. RZTP.dol is required to launch Wii Sports Resort for the first time) – although I’ve never had to use an alternative dol for a wad, maybe try NOT specifying an alternative dol (if you are!)

  12. Previously installed wads/channels
    Help please Hi I previously installed games to wii via wad manager then moved to sd, I am wanting to try triiforce. Is it possible for the installed channels on sd to be moved into triiforce without having to find the wads again?

    1. Hmm, it would depend on what format the wads/channels on your SD card are in… I haven’t looked at anything on the Wii for a long, long time, but you might find you have the ticket/title/etc. folders on your SD card with the backed up channels.

      If so, you can probably merge them into your triiforce suite of folders for NAND emulation. If not, then AFAIK you’re going to need to re-get and extract the wads.

      As a final hail-mary, if you don’t have the ticket/title/etc. folder structure on the SD card with backed up channels, you could maybe try getting the smallest wad you can find, install it to the Wii, back it up to your SD card, then do a file comparison of the original WAD and the backed up version. I’d imagine the backup will contain things like save games and high-scores, but you never know – it could be the case that only the WAD contents are there and you could change the file extension. Though if that were true anyone could backup their games onto SD card and give a copy to their mates, so I’d imagine the backup is encrypted with a key tying the decryption to a specific Wii console i.e. you can restore the back-up on your console only.

      In which case you’re prolly going to have to download the wads again. Back ’em up this time =P

  13. Hiya,

    I’ve got a USB hard drive which is partitioned into one large WBFS (230GB) and one smaller FAT32 partition (20GB). I formatted it on Windows 7’s format using the /FS:FAT32 switch. Programs like WiiMC and MPlayer CE recognise the FAT32 partition and I can play films for them, but when I select USB-NAND in TriiForce beta 7 it gives me “ISFS_ReadDir(‘/’) failed ret = -1. No FAT partition?”. Similarly in WAD Manager v1.7 I select “USB 2.0 Mass Storage Device” as the NAND emulator device but I get “ERROR! ret = -1)” when I try to install any WADs.

    Do you think it is the way that the FAT32 partition is formatted? Seems strange that other programs can read the partition but these can’t (I’ve upgraded to cIOS 38 to Rev 14 too). Is there some special way I should be formatting my FAT32 partition? Maybe I should just get myself an 8GB SDHC card?

    Any ideas would be appreciated! =)

    1. Hmm – okay, let’s have a think… It could be a dodgy version of Wad Manager – you could try an older version or newer version (if available), or try launching on different IOS. I think cIOS 38 rev 14 is now rather old, too.

      Another thing you could try is making sure the FAT32 partition is marked as active from the Disk Management snap-in (Right click Computer | Manage | Disk Management then right-click on partition).

      It’s definitely weird that the FAT32 partition is read properly is some programs, yet fails to access in others – there shouldn’t be anything particularly special that you need to do for it to work – so try diff WAD Manager vers, or try a SDHC card (they’re really cheap these days, and if you just wanted to test stuff out using a SDHC the chances are you’ve got one kicking about in a camera somewhere you could repurpose for a day or two).

      I saw in this gbatemp thread some output from a tool called “sysCheck v1.6.1 by Erik Spyder ” – looks like a good dump of IOS info if it was something that needed to be updated to use the latest WAD Managers or such…

      Good luck & hope you get it sorted!

      1. I’m in the EXACT same sitiuation pollito is in. I even tried setting the partition as active, yet triforce 7b fails to recognize it, as well as WAD manager :(

  14. i need help im running on wii 4.3 and when i try to dump my nand and the exception dsi occurred thing comes up, is dumping my nand nessary?

    1. Yes, dumping your nand is necessary as you have to merge in the WAD contents with the extracted nand.

      Maybe try:
      – Backup to SD card and NOT directly to USB (if there’s an option for that),
      – Running FS Backup from a different IOS,
      – Upgrading or downgrading your IOS,
      – Downloading a copy of someone elses backed up nand from the net if you can find a copy and trying to use that.
      – Doing a “minimalistic” NAND dump if possible (source: http://sites.google.com/site/completesg/how-to-use/sfsd-nand-dumper)

      Other than that I’ve no idea – I never had any problems using Simple FS Dumper.

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