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.

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

  1. Jerry Colones

    So I think I’ve got things sorted out. Reformatted again in Windows and then installed RockBox using the Mac installer by logging in as root. Tracks are loading and playing = success!

    I have another iPod with a quad card to be installed. What is the maximum of storage I can use with a Gen 5.5 ? TIA

  2. Jerry Colones

    So I have removed all the uploaded tracks and started over. They upload in their entirety but when I attempt to play an album, it only plays for several seconds and then advanced to the next track, Thoughts on where to ge from here>

  3. Support Post author

    When you are restarting the iPod, you can boot back in to the Apple OS by flicking the hold switch (if I remember correctly). Refer to if that is not correct.

  4. Jerry Colones

    Thanks. So by “booting into the Apple OS first” do you simply mean – restarting and mounting the iPod fat32 disk? Previously, I had quit Parallels and the drive had mounted on the Mac OS – then I ran Carbon Copy Cloner. Should my workflow be different?

  5. Support Post author

    You can keep the same method of transfer you have been using, just boot in to the Apple OS on the iPod first.

    Confirm if the files are good or not by copying the files from the iPod back to your Mac and see if they play cleanly.

    In terms of the Mac installer for Rockbox, I am no expert on it – but I assumed that Rockbox installs and formats as FAT32 regardless of MAC or WINDOWS.

  6. Jerry Colones

    Thank you for your reply. My transfer was on teh Mac platform using a program called Carbon Copy Cloner. According to that program, the data transferred successfully.
    Two alternatives I could try:
    1) Manually drag and drop on the Mac platform or 2) Install RockBox using the Mac installer instead of Windows.
    Your thoughts appreciated.

  7. Support Post author

    @Jerry – The Rockbox ATA drivers have problems writing to solid state drives, it causes filesystem corruption and errors – you need to boot in to the Apple OS, do your transfers as normal (drag & drop, etc) then eject the iPod – finally boot back in to Rockbox.

  8. Jerry Colones

    These directions worked for me using a SanDisk Ultra microSDXC. Followed the formatting to the letter.

    Reset my iPod with iTunes Windows and loaded RockBox in Windows.

    Looking to primarily play FLAC files. However, with a preliminary number of Albums, the tracks play for about 15-30 seconds and then move to the next track or seem to skip around. No full songs get played.

    Any ideas what could be going on here? Thanks

  9. Support Post author

    Just a follow up – Tim’s problem was resolved by formatting each card using the SD Association (SDIO) SD Formatter software ( – which in effect restores SD cards to factory fresh format.

  10. Support Post author

    @Tim – No idea, is it possible the iFlash-Quad has been damaged as well? Does 2 and 3 cards work? Also with the 4 cards installed does the iPod diagnostics HDD specs show the correct storage size, and if you still have diskmode with all 4 cards installed does the iPod ‘drive’ have the correct capacity?

  11. Tim

    @Support I have 4 Sandisk 400gb Micros loaded up. Was working fine as a 1.43TB iPod for almost two years. Recently on holiday I left my iPod powered on in a hot car (about 90F – 95F outside) for about 40-45 minutes. The audio out and line out were both shot after this. I swapped motherboards, tested all cards to be fine but for whatever reason I can’t get iTunes to restore it with all 4 cards installed. However with each card installed as a single in the Iflash quad iTunes will restore without any problems. Any ideas?

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