Prepare SDXC (ExFat) for use with the iPod

Prepare SDXC (ExFat) for use with the iPod

*** IMPORTANT – This article is up as an reference, first install and restore the iPod, if you have problems then attempt these instructions ***

Introduction

Some of the factory fresh ExFAT formatted SDXC cards cause problems in the iPod, I have not been able to determine the exact cause but I suspect the iTunes restore process does not write a fresh MBR (Master Boot Record) nor does it create a new partition table – just modifies the existing table.

This only applies to SDXC cards 64Gb and above in capacity, as these are the cards which are ExFAT formatted by default.

The symptoms tend to be slow music transfer, odd syncing errors, song skipping and iPod freezing up.

I have created a walk through on how to get the SDXC card in to a known good state before installing and restoring the iPod.

Preparation

First you need to get a partition manager software, I use the free AOMEI Partition Assistant, download here!! but only for Windows PC’s, for MAC users any of the popular partition software on MacOS will work. The steps will be slightly different, but the process and concepts should be similar.

You will need a CF card reader, you can also use a SDXC card reader. If you are going to use a SD card reader make sure it is SDXC compatible as you can damage the SDXC card – normal SD or SDHC card readers will not work with SDXC cards.

Steps

IMPORTANT: Make sure that the drive you are modifying is the SDXC card and not another Hard Drive installed in your Computer, you have been warned. So before starting double check that you are working on the SDXC card – better safe than sorry!!

Install SDXC card in to SD-CF Adapter, and place it in the CF card reader. In the example below I am using a 256Gb SDXC – It is shown as removeable in the drive list.

Start AOMEI.

In the main window, right click on the SDXC drive and select REBUILD MBR and confirm, leaving the default Windows 7/8. To commit the action you need to APPLY (Top Left Icon).

Rebuild MBR

Rebuild MBR

Apply Action to Commit

Apply Action to Commit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once that has finished, again right click on the SDXC card and select DELETE ALL PARTITIONS, and Apply to Commit – once that is finished the drive should be totally unallocated.

Delete All Partitions

Delete All Partitions

Unallocated Partition Table

Unallocated Partition Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we can write a fresh FAT32 Partition. Once again right click on the SDXC card, select Create Partition. On the dialog window, click on Advanced and select SSD Parition Alignment – leave the default setting of Optimised. Apply to Commit.

Create Partition

Create Partition

Aligned FAT32 Partition

Aligned FAT32 Partition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once all the steps have been completed, your partition table should look like this :-

Finished Partition Table

Finished Partition Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you can safely eject / remove the SD-CF Adapter from the CF card reader and install in your iPod, ready for the iTunes restore process.

288 thoughts on “Prepare SDXC (ExFat) for use with the iPod

  1. Ed Cruwys

    Used several products successfully, SATA, CF etc, but having big problems with iFlash Quad. Browsed these posts and still no luck. I am sure I picked µSDs from the approved list (which is now updated). Details as follows:
    Kingston 128GB Canvas Select Micro SD Memory Card 80MB/s UHS-1 Class 10 (x 4)
    tried reformatting and can’t get past the red X. I have the option of 2 x 7th gen ipods and neither works.

    Any tips gratefully received

  2. Wade Walker

    I noticed in these threads that one use reported having a 7th Gen 120GB iPod Classic that he found was only reporting 128GB after upgrading.

    Can anyone confirm if the 120GB 7th Gen Classic suffers from the same limitation as the 6th gens at 128GB?

    Hoping to make mine a 1TB (anyone have success and proven performance making it 2TB??)

    1. Lauren Glenn

      7th gen is ROM 2.0.4 or 2.0.5 and only comes in 160GB thin model. 120GB is 6th gen and is limited to 128GB.

      I’ve been able to get up to 2TB in mine but ONLY with 512GB micro SD cards. If you put in a 1TB card, it often does NOT work or at least not in multiples (and for me, not even individually)

      For mine, I put in a 1TB card and the whole unit failed to boot (red X). If I took it out and put in 512GB cards, it boots fine and I get the “Restore in iTunes” message. But this is because I have a 2.0.5 model.

      The iFlash Quad board I have says it is a revision from 2021 and it still has issues with 1TB cards (mine is from Sandisk… both the grey and the gold color ones). So best bet is to stick with 4x 512GB cards.

      But remember that 6th gen (<2.0.4) won't use anything higher than 128GB unless you use Rockbox.

    2. Philip Ride

      Hi I have a 7th gen with 1tb msata been going over a year with no problems. Biggest problems I had with SD cards were fakes and failure.
      I have a fifth gen with two 256 Integral micro SD cards from Amazon been going over a year as well and work no problems.
      I’ve just built a 256 msata 5th gen which is the first one I’m going to sell and it’s great as well.
      Good luck with your build cheers
      Phil.

    3. Wyatt Benda

      I think you helped answer a question I had. I’ve been trying to get an iflash to work with 2 1tb cards to no avail. Sucks because I spent the money on them lol

  3. Wade Walker

    5.5 gen 80GB upgraded 4x128GB Sandisk extreme MicroSD

    Having an issue where my iPod works, songs play well initially but over time it seems like they ‘pile up’ in the buffer, then there’s long breaks – the song stops…iPod seems to catch up…then it continues playing until it happens again in a minute or so. Very annoying.

    If I read/understand correctly, I need to format each MicroSD individually to exFAT first? Or can I just re-format my entire iPod again? When I installed everything I didn’t do each individually – is that the step I missed?

    1. Zedhed

      I’ve modded several 5th gen iPods but haven’t come across this behaviour before.

      I format cards prior to use just to clear any junk partitions that might be on there from previous experiments.

      Have you checked each card with a utility like h2testw (for Windows)? Then maybe add just one card to the iPod and test for the behaviour?

      I have a similar problem with a 7th gen 120gb iPod. It will play fine for maybe 100 tracks then refuses to advance beyond the start of each track. It just moves onto the next track but will not advance beyond 0.00. Rebooting the iPod is the only way to get out of it.

  4. Lee

    My recent experience of preparing a SDXC card for iFlash was very simple and straightforward. First, I would like to thank the iFlash company for such a great service in helping the community to keep iPods alive. I decided to upgrade my beloved iPod 4th generation U2 20G. I ordered the iFlash-Solo and the 4th Gen iPod Converter. I use one Samsung 256GB EVO-Select UHS-I microSDXC card with the SD adapter coming with the card. The card has been formatted already. But to be safe, I reformat it in my MacBook to ExFAT again. After replacing the iPod internal HD with the iFlash card and microSD, I connect the iPod to MacBook and open it in Finder. Under the iPod software section, I select “restore” and then follow the instruction to move it to a power charger to finish the restore process. That’s it. The iPod shows 238GB space under “Settings” – “About”. I then load the iPod with my entire iTune library in my MacBook. Now the iPod has all my musics uncompressed. Everything plays fine. I share this experience here so that I hope it will help others during the upgrade process.

  5. Big Jim

    Hi
    I purchased a SanDisk Extreme PRO 256GB SDXC Memory Card 170MB/s UHS-1 Class 10 U3 V30 and must admit I missed this step. Everything seems to be working fine with my iPod 5.5. What would be the problems I would notice ? Are there cases where this re-format of the MBR is not necessary and all works fine with ExFat ? Not too keen on opening the Ipod again.

  6. n/a

    MiniTool Partition Wizard Free is a great alternative to AOMEI, as it allows you to follow the instructions without having to *pay to partition*

  7. Lauren Glenn

    Simplest way to do this is to go into DISKPART, select the disk (make SURE that you pick your SD card and not your hard drive)…. very important… LIST DISK (to confirm you have the right one), then CLEAN. That erases the partition table.

    Then, make sure the iFlash board is unplugged from the iPod (or that the battery is unplugged)… I’d probably just disconnect the iFlash board from the mainboard to be extra sure….

    Put the cards in the iFlash and boot up the unit. No partitioning, no formatting. When the iPod boots up, it will say you must restore the device. Restore in iTunes, it will format the cards for you, and then it will reboot.

    I’ve been doing that for a while with micro SD cards and it hasn’t failed me yet.

    1. Donny

      Lauren, were you able to fully sync your iTunes music folder onto the ipods after this? This seems almost “too easy”.

      Im currently in the process of modding my first iPod (80gb 6th Gen Classic). So from what I understand with what you said, I dont need to reformat the sd card to “fat32”, I can just follow the steps you posted above and it should work just fine?

  8. Yves Voeten

    Small update: I have been able to format as described above. However, the problem remains: my ipod cannot play the songs.
    Any help please, because I am out of possible solutions.
    Thanks in advance.

  9. Yves Voeten

    Hi,
    I have an Ipod 7th gen and installed an iflash-dual. To test it prior to buying a more expensive 512 GB SD card, I have inserted a Sandisk Extreme Pro 128 GB SDXC USH-I, which according to the site should be compatible.
    No problem with the syncing, but when I eject the ipod, no songs will play (they keep stuck on 0:00), albeit that I can scroll thourgh them as well as through the albums. When I push play/pause it resets after a few seconds.
    I have tried the to reformat the SD card as described above but the recommended program (AOMEI) seems to have changed so I have no idea how to proceed. Could you please instruct me on how to format the SD card with AOMEI or another preferably free program? In case the problem is not with the SD card could you indicate other solutions?
    Thanks in advance.
    PS I am not technical at all, so I am already glad to have being able to open the ipod.

    1. Lauren Glenn

      The only other thing I can think of is that there’s an issue with the songs themselves… but I’d try the disk cleaning part first and see if that helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *