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 ***


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.


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.


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.


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

  1. fat controller

    Sync completed about 15 minutes ago, so that works out at roughly 54Gb per hour, so roughly 120 megabits per second??

  2. fat controller

    Scratch that last comment – I tried it again without disconnecting and it appears to have restored this time. I have 14547 tracks to sync (84.67gb), so will time how long it takes in case that will give an indication of the transfer speeds

  3. fat controller

    Thank you for the swift reply :)

    I take it to check the speeds of the card that I have to remove it from the iPod? Also, how do you check the transfer speeds in disk mode?

    I have tried recovering by forcing it into DFU mode a couple of times before (with the old hard drive), so I know where I am with that one – oddly, I have just tried to do that and it is now stuck flashing ‘Do not disconnect’ and has not restarted. iTunes saw it, carried out the recovery process as far as telling me that it would then restart the iPod, and there it has stuck…

    I have a really horrid feeling that the motherboard is shot…

  4. Support Post author

    @fat controller – Check the card is working to spec, check that the read/write speeds are as specified, if they are not then the card is suspect.

    Also in diskmode with everything installed in the iPod, see what kind of transfer speeds you are getting.

    Finally something worth doing – is forcing the iPod in to DFU mode, and getting iTunes to recover the firmware, I have seen some Classics behaving very strangely and a firmware recovery resolves all the issues.

  5. fat controller

    I have followed this guide this afternoon following some problems, however I am still having problems and am now led to suspect that the motherboard is shot on my Classic 120gb; it had been very under-used, and indeed sat gathering dust for a couple of years and then pressed back into service – upon doing so, it would freeze, skip tracks, reset and generally not behave so I arrived at the conclusion that the hard drive was knackered. I purchased an iFlash bundle last week, and installed it over the weekend with a Qumox 128gb SD card and all initially seemed well. Whilst at it, I also put a new battery in (thought it best to refresh everything at the same time)

    However, problems continue with the iPod freezing mid-song and then skipping tracks and needing to be reset before it will continue. Following the procedure above, it appeared that there were three partitions on the SD card, which were made one as per the above. iPod restored, sync done and I plugged it in with high hopes – – it got to its third song before throwing a wobbler mid song, and then skipping tracks again,

    I’d appreciate any advice or opinions please ladies and gents – is it time for me to accept that I now have a somewhat expensive pile of electronic scrap?

  6. Fox

    @Pete: I don’t know if I would make that assumption. Sure, one might discover it through trial and error, but it is a bit ludacris to think software would be released so fundamentally broken. I just feel there’s got to be a spot for this vital information on this blog! Somewhere, anywhere!

  7. Pete

    It is generally known by most ipod/rockbox users that its best to do transfers using the original firmware, as rockbox’s own USB handler isn’t all that great. The nice thing (for me) is that it seems that dual-booting on 6/7 gen appears to be almost working now (indeed, it is working, though only with a patched rockbox).
    Head-fi has some comprehensive threads on rockbox/ipod mods where all info can be found if you dig long enough!

  8. Fox

    @Support: Well, make a blog post on rockbox expressing your views — I’m sure it cant hurt. And at the very end, you can put: BUT if you are going to use it… make sure you boot into apple os before you transfer. Something to think about. 😉

  9. Support Post author

    @Fox – We don’t official support Rockbox and being an open source project – any changes made have the possiblity of effecting compatiblity which we cannot keep track of.

  10. Fox

    @Support: Thanks for the tip! No offense, but you’ve GOT to put this information somewhere people can read it — it’s far too important to miss! And you’re right, I do have an iPod video (5.5 gen).

  11. Support Post author

    @Fox – many people use the adapters with Rockbox with no problem. Rockbox especially on the Classics can be sensitive to the SD card used (brand/model). On the Video’s the Rockbox USB handler causes slow transfers and filesystem corruption – solution for that being booting in to the Apple OS and using the original Apple USB handler for the transfers before booting back in to Rockbox.

  12. Fox

    I’ve had the oddest errors like songs injected in other songs. Do you know for sure rockbox supports your boards? I’ve used “rsync -rcP” (checksum enabled), and it fails frequently. I’ve hadn’t had the same problem with official apple firmware, although I’m still testing.

  13. Support Post author

    @JB – I am not a MAC user, so that will be hard. I think with Disk Utlity you just ask it to format for DOS – which should result in a FAT32 partition.

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