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Channels and SaveGames
Wii Channels and savegames can be stored on SD cards inserted into
the Wii through the front SD slot. They are stored in the directoy /private/wii/title/
on the card and consist of a single .bin-file. Channels are stored in
files called content.bin while savegames are stored in data.bin
files. Each Wii channel and game have a unique four letter ID. data.bin
and content.bin are stored in subdirectories named after the game's or
program's ID. Renaming the directory will make the Wii not recognize
the file anymore. Some games like Virtual Console titles can have both
a content.bin and a data.bin.
Looking at the bin-files reveals that they are stuctured in 64
byte segments. There is for example plaintext information about the
certificate used to encrypt and decrypt the file stored in the content
bin which is artificially padded by leading and trailing blocks of 64
zero bytes (0x00) and the ASCII strings are also padded with zeros to
reach the 64 byte block size.
Each bin file starts with a header which can be decrypted
successfully by every Wii console, since the icon, banner, title and
description of the game are all readable in the Wii SD card menu, even
if the file was not originally created on this Wii or is even from the
same region. The header is broken into 64 byte segments and its last
block is followed by a block with the first four bytes 0x00000070 being
followed by the four bytes 0x426B0001. The next four bytes are the Wii
ID of the specific console this file was created on stored in binary.
Further information in the header includes the size of the following
data and later the ID of the program in plaintext ASCII. The more
colorful the icon of the file the bigger the header will be strongly
indicating an image compression of some sort.
The data is encrypted and little can be said about its plaintext. At
the end of the data two certificates are described, each one referring
to the unique Wii ID thus making it plausible that the data is
encrypted with a secret key only known to ones own Wii. A checksum of
some sort might be the last piece of information stored in the
penultimate block which is then followed by a last 64 byte block of
A content.bin or data.bin file with a well-formed header will appear
in the Wii's data manager on the SD card displaying it's icon and name
and description if clicked upon. If a savegame or channel is not
already present in the Wii's internal memory the bin-file can be
encrypted and copied successfully.
When copying a file that was created on another Wii the copying will
fail with a corresponding message.
Changing anything in the data (not the header, see below) will cause
the copying to end with this message. Deleting or adding bytes at the
end of the file will also yield this message. A checksum seems to check
the integrity of the whole file or at least the data segment, since
even changing something in the obviously useless and uninterpreted 64
byte zero segments or in the dead space beyond the plaintext strings in
the certificate information will cause the copy process to fail with
Every manipulation of the bin-file's header will cause the channel
or savegame to appear as a white box with a black question mark inside
it in the Wii's SD card manager. The file can still be examined but the
name and description are filled with question marks also. Interestingly
the file will still appear fine even if all blocks beyond the header
are delete. Only one byte needs to follow the isolated header, possibly
to prevent the last byte of the header to be the end of file also. The
value of the one byte is of no importance.
The file will not appear when its directory is renamed. Combined with the last statement this might mean that the Wii checks only the headers first and either the directoy's name is stored in the header in encrypted form or it is part of the key that is used by the Wii to decrypt the header.
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