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.

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

  1. Support

    @Brian – this article related to very specific cards which had bad formats/MBR tables from the factory – it really is not necessary to format cards before use in the iFlash – just let iTunes restore the iPod.

    There is some rare situations where if a card has been used in another device like cameras, or even if moving cards from different iPods where it becomes necessary to format before installing into the iPod – even then this can be done using the builtin formatting tools on the Mac’s or Window’s machines.

  2. Brian

    Post No. 7 above (Earnest)
    I, like Earnest was completely confused with the Formatting aspect of SDXC cards, as the Walkthrough states that cards above 64GB come Formatted with ExFat and need reformatting with Fat32 and that Mac users should any proprietary software for Mac.
    If the iPod is to be used on Mac, then the card should be Formatted with Mac OS Extended and not Fat32., which this article does not make clear.
    Otherwise, great website

  3. Support

    @DJ – I would just install and restore using iTunes, it is extremely unlikely you will need to format if the card is unused.

    If you still want to most people use the Disk utility and use format type DOS (which will be FAT32).

  4. DJ

    Does anyone have any instructions on how to prepare 512gb exfat cards on a mac? These instructions are great, but I don’t have a windows machine and want to make sure I do everything correctly.


  5. Rose

    Thanks for the article! Got the new Sandisk Ultra 256GB MicroSDXC UHS-I working and formatted with the iFlash-Quad and a 5.5 gen iPod. Should be a fun way to get to a thin 1TB iPod.

  6. Robert

    I just wanted to clarify a previous mac. I only have a Mac – if I use one of the SDXC on your working list, say the Sandisk Extreme Pro, should I be okay without doing this step?

  7. Ivan Haskell

    Great – thanks for getting back to me and letting me know. I’ll post back and let you know how the upgrade has gone. Hopefully it will be fairly straightforward and trouble free. Fingers crossed…

  8. Ivan Haskell

    Hi All

    Great site – lots of information.

    I have just ordered the iFlash-DUAL SDXC Adaptor. I have also just ordered 1x 512Gb SDXC UHS-I (U3) Sandisk Extreme Pro and 1x 256Gb SDXC UHS-I (U3) Sandisk Extreme Pro to use with the adaptor. I am going to install this into an ipod Classic 160gb 7th Generation ipod. My question is (as I am reading mixed messages/opinions in the previous posts), do I need to reformat the SDXC cards following the guidelines provided into a FAT32 format or should the Sandisks be good to go straight out of the box in their default factory format which I guess is ExFAT? I am sorry if the answer to this is obvious, but I would just like it confirming before I start this upgrade. Has anyone had experience of using the Sandisk Extreme’s with this adaptor?

  9. Support

    @Ernest – currently 100% of our support queries concerning the iFlash-Quad are due to fake MicroSD cards – as I always say MicroSD cards (especially above 64Gb) should always be bought from a retailer that obtains stock directly from the card manufacturer, this more important with the premium brands such as Sandisk & Samsung, as they tend to be the makes which are faked/copied the most!!

  10. Ernest

    Hi, Just want to report my experience so far with iflash Quad and Samsung EVO 128 SDSX.
    I did everything listed above with 4 of these SDSX cards and consistently i had issues restoring the iPod. Whenever the process was completed, I could transfer what appeared to be my 30gb library, but whenever i ejected the iPod the files would vanish, then when I reattached the iPod to itunes it wanted to be restored again. Did this several times over and over the same result.
    So I bought 2 32gb Sony UHS-1 SDHC cards, put them in the iQuad, and presto it restores, and transfers and takes the synced files, and plays the files without issues. Detach it from the computer, the files are all there, iPod is functioning normally.

    So I am guessing I have 4 bad (fake) Samsung EVO SDSX cards. Will run card tests on those to verify.
    But I will just max out the iQuad with the Sony UHS-1.

  11. Support

    @NeilT – No, you would need to restore as the iPod does not have any means of hotswapping storage, and the restore process will rewrite the MBR/Partition table using the new capacity.

  12. NeilT

    Thank you, all seems good now.

    A quick supplementary question – if I want to add more SD cards, can I just open it up and plug them in? Does the iFlash accept the additional storage seamlessly?

  13. NeilT

    Ah, so if I reboot the iPod native OS, and then copy files they should be OK? I’ll try that shortly. Thanks for the response – I didn’t think my problem was related to that Rockbox issue.

  14. Support

    @NeilT – have you confirmed you have problems with iTunes using the original OS ? – what you describe sounds like issues with the Rockbox USB Handler which is a known problem when using any solid state drives – you need to do your file copying under the Apple OS or Apple diskmode.

  15. NeilT

    And a third message with further test results. I checked both the SDXC cards using H2testw, and they are perfect. Rechecked the ribbon cable to the iFlash card and that seems OK. Loaded on more flac files, which skipped in Rockbox. Used a file comparison app, Winmerge, and found that the files as read back from the iPod are corrupted. Confirmed by playing the copied files on the PC where glitches were heard.

    I can only assume now that for some reason file corruption is occurring somewhere in the iFlash card system. Any thoughts?

  16. NeilT

    Further to my previous message:

    I went through the partition process again to get both the cards clean, and re-initialised the iPod from iTunes. After doing so I pulled the first card from the iFlash card and found that it now has 31MB unallocated, 91GB unformatted and a further 91GB unallocated according to AOMEI. Is this what is expected after iTunes has had its play with the cards? It seems very bizarre and no doubt explains my skipping problems.

  17. NeilT

    I’m having the same problem as Steve. Installed 2 x 200GB Sandisk cards, listed in your compatibility list into a quad micro SD card of yours. Seemed OK for a day then started skipping tracks. I removed the SDXC cards and followed your process to reset the partitions. I noticed one card had a bizarre set of partitions when the partition manager looked at it! Reinstalled, copied back twenty or so albums of flac files and the same – lots of track skipping.

  18. Martin Nilsson

    @Support – It works perfectly with a smaller sd card (2GB), both rockbox and the official firmware.
    Using the 512GB card, more or less nmothing works, I can’t restore it with itunes or access the files on the card (when it’s in the ipod), it doesn’t work when it’s in slot one nor slot 2.
    This is the one: 512Gb SDXC UHS-I (U1) Kingston SDA10/512GB
    it is on the list of reported working SD Cards.

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