How to upgrade an ASUS ROG Ally SSD and transfer your data from a storage backup

WD_BLACK SN770M SSD and ROG Ally gaming handheld.
(Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

If you're like me, you probably learned that the 512GB SSD that comes in the ROG Ally doesn't provide a large enough storage capacity to hold that many games. Thankfully, Western Digital produces 1TB and 2TB SSDs specifically intended for ROG Ally and Steam Deck to make way for more programs on the handhelds. 

The ROG Ally SSD upgrading process is actually really easy, as you'll see in this guide. I'll start by going over your various SSD options for ROG Ally followed by how to backup data on your original SSD and how to transfer data to the new SSD. After that, I'll walk you step-by-step (with pictures) through the process of opening the system and physically swapping SSDs in the gaming handheld

What are my ROG Ally SSD options?

There are three main ways to update your ROG Ally's SSD capacity.  (Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)

Unfortunately, the ROG Ally has the potential to overheat and cause a microSD card malfunction, so it's a better idea to upgrade the ROG Ally to a higher-capacity internal SSD rather than relying on a microSD card. There are three different ways you can go about upgrading SSD capacity: 

1) Connect an external SSD — Compatible external SSDs can plug right into the ROG Ally's USB-C port. If you want the gaming handheld to charge up while attached to an external SSD (like the Samsung T7 Shield 2TB External SSD), then you'll need a docking station with additional ports like the Unitek Cooling Dock I reviewed. External SSDs are more clunky than internal SSDs at times but can give you more capacity options overall.

2) Clean install with a new internal SSD — If you do want to upgrade the ROG Ally's internal SSD, it's recommended you do a clean install. This erases your settings, programs, and data but is considered the best way of doing things since it helps remove clutter from the device and helps it run more smoothly. Don't worry; ROG has built-in Cloud Recovery for ROG Ally's still under warranty, so you can easily factory reset the handheld with a clean install of Windows 11 and various ROG programs needed for the Ally. 

3) Backup the original internal SSD and transfer data to the new one — If you want to keep your personal OS, settings, programs, and files, then you'll want to first backup the original ROG Ally internal SSD's data before swapping SSDs out and then transfer the data to the new SSD later. To accomplish this, you either need a laptop/desktop or an external SSD with enough space to save the backup to. 

How to backup SSD data

(Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Before you actually swap out the old internal SSD for a new one, you might want to make a backup and save it on another desktop, laptop, or external SSD. One of the easiest ways to do this is by installing a program called Macrium Reflect onto your ROG Ally, connecting your Ally to an external SSD or computer, and then saving the backup to the other device. Macrium's software allows you to fully clone your SSD or create an image backup for you to save on an external device. There's a free 30-day trial for this software, or you can pay for a subscription. 

Another option that costs less money overall is to use an enclosure adapter for the SSD, such as the Orico one shown below. Put your original SSD inside, plug it into a laptop or desktop, and then backup your data to that device. Alternatively, you might find it more convenient (albeit more expensive) to attach an external SSD to the ROG Ally and save your backup to it that way.

Macrium Reflect | Try free trial

Macrium Reflect | Try free trial

Macrium Reflect is a disk imaging and disk cloning program to help you backup your data. This software is subscription-based, but there is also a free 30-day trial for you to check out if you want to see all that it provides first. 

ORICO M.2 NVMe SATA SSD Enclosure Adapter | See at Amazon

ORICO M.2 NVMe SATA SSD Enclosure Adapter | See at Amazon

If you have a computer handy (aside from the ROG Ally), then one of the most inexpensive ways to save a backup of the original SSD is with this enclosure adapter. Put the original SSD in here, plug the adapter into a laptop/desktop, and then use Macrium Reflect software to image or clone your data. Then plug it into your ROG Ally (with the new SSD installed in the handheld) and transfer the data to the new SSD. 

Samsung T7 Shield 2TB External SSD | See at Best Buy

Samsung T7 Shield 2TB External SSD | See at Best Buy

This is definitely the more expensive SSD backup route, but it's also a little more convenient. Simply plug it into your ROG Ally, and you'll have access to an external SSD. Clone or image your internal SSD and save it to the external SSD to back up your data. 

How to install a new SSD in ROG Ally

Make sure you have the proper tools before upgrading your SSD.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

What you need to upgrade an ROG Ally SSD

- WD_BLACK SN770M SSD (or other compatible option)

- Screwdriver (2.0 x 50mm works well)

- Plastic pick for pulling casing apart (optional)

- External drive (if you want to backup your data)

- Internet connection (for reinstalling Windows)

WD_BLACK SN770M NVMe 1TB SSD: $129.99now $79.99 at Best Buy ($50 off)

WD_BLACK SN770M NVMe 1TB SSD: was $129.99 now $79.99 at Best Buy ($50 off)

Increase the internal SSD storage space of your compatible gaming handheld with this upgrade that can reach fast read speeds up to 5,150 MB/s. You'll need to open your device, remove the original SSD, and then install this one in its place. This is a great product, and Western Digital has even provided an official video showing how to install the SSD into the ROG Ally.

Buy 1TB version at:
Best Buy | Western Digital
Buy 2TB version at:
Best Buy | Western Digital

Vastar 17pcs Screwdriver Set | See at Amazon

Vastar 17pcs Screwdriver Set | See at Amazon

This handy set comes with six different kinds of magnetic tip screwdrivers, which are ideal for working with various gaming handheld devices. There are also tweezers and a plastic triangle casing opener to help you interact with specific components or to help open casings more easily.

  1. Completely turn off your ROG Ally. You can quickly do this by holding down the volume down button and the power button for a few seconds. 

Before doing anything else, you need to turn off your ROG Ally off completely.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Place the handheld screen down on a clean, flat surface

Place the ROG Ally down screen-first on a clean surface.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Remove the six screws on the back side, leaving the one on the bottom center for last. This last one isn't as long as the others and will stay in the casing.

Unscrew the screws on the back leaving the center bottom one for last.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Carefully pull the casing open. I found it easiest to place my triangular plastic pick (that came with my screwdriver set) in the bottom and then slide it left and then right as this disengaged the clasps holding the casing together.

Use a plastic pick to pull the ROG Ally casing apart.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Safely unplug the battery. It's located near the bottom of the casing. 

Safely unplug the ROG Ally battery. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Remove the flat black sticker on the top. Make sure to set it down in such a way that the adhesive doesn't get dusty or dirty.

Remove the black sticker on the ROG Ally to get better access to the SSD. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Unscrew the M.2 screw that holds the original SSD in place. Be careful so you don't strip the screw while doing this.  

Unscrew the small M2 screw that holds the ROG Ally's SSD in place.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Carefully pull the original SSD out by pushing it down and away from its contact points. If it gets stuck on the screw area, use the black tab underneath to pull it up and then pull it out.  

Carefully remove the SSD from the ROG Ally.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Install the WD_BLACK SN770M SSD by carefully pushing it up into the contact points and then carefully screw the small M.2 screw back into place.  

Insert the new SSD by pushing it up into the contact points.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Put the flat black plastic back where it belongs. 

Cover the components once more with the protective black sticker.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Plug the battery back in

Plug the ROG Ally's battery back in.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Put the casing back in place and squeeze the plastic around the edges to pop it back together. 

Squeeze the casing all around the ROG Ally until its all back together.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Screw the six screws all back into place. 

Screw the ROG Ally's screws back into place. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Plug the official charging adapter into the ROG Ally (it won't turn on unless you do this).

Plug in the official adapter. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Turn your ROG Ally back on by holding down the power button, and it should boot the BIOS when it detects the new hardware. 

Hold the power button until the ROG Ally turns back on.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Press Y to go to Advanced Mode.

Press Y to go to the ROG Ally's Advanced Settings. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Tap on the Advanced tab and select ASUS Cloud Recovery

Maneuver to the Advanced Tab and select ASUS Cloud Recovery.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. If this is your first time doing this (and it likely is), you'll need to select View Policy to get acquainted with the Privacy Notice. 

Before continuing, you must click View policy.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. You will then need to check the box to confirm that you are over 20 years old then select Agree

Confirm that you are old enough and the select Agree.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Select Next [Enter] to initiate Cloud Recovery downloading. 

Select Next [Enter] to work on connecting to Wi-Fi.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Then you'll need to select your Internet AP and click Confirm

Select your Wi-Fi network.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Enter your Wi-Fi password then click Confirm again. 

Login to your Wi-Fi and then press Confirm.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Click OK [Enter] to continue.

Select OK [Enter] to continue.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. A new box will show up, click Next [Enter] to start the download (this could take several minutes). 

Select Next [Enter] to start the Cloud Recovery download. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Once it finishes downloading, click Confirm.

Tap Confirm to keep going.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Wait for the system to restart so it can connect to Cloud Recovery again. This could take several minutes.  

You'll now need to wait while  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. A notice will come up telling you that all personal data will be erased from the ROG Ally and it will recommend that you backup everything to an external hard drive. If you want to backup data and haven't done so yet, connect a compatible external hard drive to the ROG Ally's USB-C port, select OK, and complete the process. Otherwise, select No and then Yes to factory reset the handheld, which erases your data and does a clean install of Windows 11/ROG programs. ROG recommends doing the clean install. 

Select Yes to back up your data to your external drive or select No to erase your data.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)
  1. Wait again while the Cloud Recovery process happens. This once again can take several minutes and involves making the ROG Ally restart several times, so it's best to leave the handheld somewhere safe and not touch it until it is completely done. If you choose to erase your data, you'll know it's done with the process when it asks you to choose your country or region. 
  • If you backed up your data on an external hard drive, take time to transfer your backup data to the ROG Ally. 

 Wait for Cloud Recovery process to complete. This can take a very long time.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Now you're good to play your ROG Ally with the new WD_Black SN770M SSD installed. If you encounter any issues during the WD_Black SSD installation process, reach out to Western Digital customer support for assistance. 

ROG Ally SSD upgrade FAQ

Does ROG Ally support external hard drives?

Yes, there are external SSDs and hard drives that can work with the ROG Ally, such as the Samsung T7 Shield 2TB External SSD. 

What kind of SSD comes installed in the ROG Ally?

The ROG Ally comes with a Micron 2400 512GB m.2 NVMe Gen 4 SSD installed. There isn't a lot of room for game data on this SSD, so it's a good idea to upgrade to a higher-capacity SSD if possible. 

What is an image backup?

Image backups are a way of backing up data that doesn't take as much room as a complete clone. You don't have to worry about it being a lesser backup option, as image backups save all of your programs, system settings, files, and the OS. You'll just have to have somewhere to keep the image backup, such as on a computer or external SSD. 

Does ROG Ally have a microSD card malfunction problem?

Yes. Due to the location of the ROG Ally's vents and the way that the gaming handheld heats up when in Turbo mode and charging, it is possible for inserted microSD cards to overheat and malfunction. As such, it's a good idea to install a higher-capacity SSD in the handheld rather than a microSD card if you want more storage space. 

Give yourself more game space

As you can see, the process for physically swapping out the original ROG Ally SSD and putting in a new SSD is relatively simple. However, there is more to do on a software level. ASUS ROG specifically recommends doing a clean install, but if you don't like that idea, then you'll want to make a backup of your original ROG Ally SSD before doing the upgrade. This can be accomplished with an SSD enclosure adapter and computer or with an external SSD. But you'll also need to use a helpful disk backup program, such as Macrium Reflect, in order to clone or create an image backup of your SSD. 

The adapter route is far more affordable, but the SSD route is more convenient. So you'll have to decide which one is a better fit for you. Of course, you could just opt to use an external SSD with your ROG Ally rather than swapping out an internal one. This can make the gaming handheld a bit more clunky to use at times, but you can also give yourself far more space this way and enjoy the portable gaming benefits I described in my ROG Ally review.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's gaming editors with a focus on gaming handhelds, PC gaming, and laptops. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, ROG Ally, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of game guides, previews, features, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming-related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market. You can follow her @rrspear on X (formerly Twitter).