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. James

    @Support The SD cards tested fine, the ipod plays songs fine, and also it has always said that it needs to be repaired when I plug it in to Win10. I’ve tried other ipod leads and ports, without success. 🙁

  2. Support

    @Peter – The Apple ribbon is too stiff and puts too much stress on the ZIF connector – in them cases you might have to try several ribbons until you get one which will work with that particular iPod motherboard due to the wear caused.

  3. Peter Wright

    Ribbon cables are a nightmare on fifth generation, I’ve started doing 6tt and 7th Generation iPods and not one out of six (touch wood) have had trouble with ribbon cable
    I’ve used tweezers and gloves so no greasy fingers disconnect drive reconnect drive start iPod get fault display change or move cable all good again

  4. Ray

    Thanks for advice about ribbon. Just for the interest of readers, I opened up my current good iPod (both good and bad are same models, 5G Video) and swapped the ribbon cables. Cable from bad unit does not work with known good unit and known good disk drives. Also found that using good unit with known good cable and HDD from bad unit works just fine – – so the problem is not with the HDD in the bad unit. However, good cable even with good HDD or iFlash/SDXC still does not work in bad iPod – – I just get the dark Apple Logo which doesn’t go away or light up after prolonged connection. I can only deduce that I had both a bad ribbon cable and an iPod that also has something else wrong with it. Odds seem against this but I repeated the swap procedure a number of times with the same results. Again, I would appreciate any input on the subject.

  5. Ray

    Thanks for your comments. I have determined that the problem is neither the micro SDXC card nor the iFlash adapter unit, by installing the iFlash with SDXC card into another iPod known to be working. Then, iTunes Restore worked immediately, first try, so I decided to just keep the iFlash in that iPod, thereby doubling its capacity – – and it works just fine. Fortunately my whole music library is backed up on a desktop HDD. I am afraid my problem iPod is toast. I would like to recover it, perhaps by flashing firmware outside of iTunes, regarding which I would appreciate any assistance, because this is not easy to find on the internet, but I am convinced the iFlash is not the problem.

  6. Support

    @Ray – Are you sure the SD card or the MicroSD – SD Adapter you are using is ok? Confirm the SD card is ok by running something like H2Testw against it. The 34MB sounds like 1st partition written by the iTunes restore process – it could be the SD card is not accepting the MBR data.

  7. Support

    @James – very odd, have you checked the cards are ok using something like H2Testw? Does the iPod play the tracks ok? Also you do not get the windows filesystem needs repair dialog on connection?

  8. Ray

    iFlash Solo with SanDisk Ultra Micro SDXC 64 GB installed on iPod Video 5 gen 30 GB that quit working with sad face message. iTunes restore repeatedly fails with error 1429. 2 times out of over 20 attempts restore seemed to progress but then nothing happened at end of process. iPod screen displays Do not disconnect when plugged into USB port and restore screen when unplugged. OS recognizes 34 MB Apple iPod, which is non-writable. Menu + Select does not work and Menu + Right disk mode does not work. SDXC card is known to be good, formatted with Windows 7 MBR and FAT32 primary SSD alignment as per your instructions. Repeatedly examined connections, etc. Please advise.

  9. James


    After I eject the iPod it is fine, all music is there etc, it’s just when I next plug it into the computer it’ll start a full resync again, which at 120gb of music takes about 6-7 hours. 🙁

  10. James

    I’ve got iflash quad with 2 identical Patriot 128gb micro SD’s as identified on your list.

    I tried a simple restore, following the above instructions and also a reformat using Windows but I keep getting the same issue in that everytime I plug in the ipod 7th Gen into itunes it will try and resync my entire library, itunes reports no error messages.

    Any ideas or tips? It didn’t happen before I put the SD cards and iflash quad in.


  11. Support

    @JUN – As mentioned in the article – the best thing would be just to install everything and restore using iTunes, it is generally not necessary to format the cards beforehand.

  12. Support

    @Lucie – Yes you probably have to, there must be a previous format on the mSata drive that the restore process could not clear.

  13. Lucie

    Hi– I just upgraded my iPod classic (160GB, thin) using your iFlash SATA adapter and 1 TB Samsung SSD 850 EVO mSATA. Everything seems to be working fine–it turns on and restores with no problem–except that it thinks it only has 22 GB capacity. Do you think I need to format the drive using the process above? Appreciate any help!

  14. Support

    @John – Rockbox USB drivers has issues with solid state drives, the fastest writes speeds will be achieved booting back in to the Apple OS (Diskmode tends to be slow, normal mode is best) to do the drag & dropping.

    Ultimately write speeds on MicroSD tend to be much slower then fullsize SD cards. Also there is a lot of variation when I tested the Samsung 128Gb EVO on a 7g I barely managed 14-15MB/s, where as the slower spec’d Sandisk Ultra 200Gb achieved nearer 19MB/s.

    Figures are for the 7g, the 5g/5.5g transfers tend be slower than that.

  15. John

    So got my ipod video working with the quad micro sdxc adapter and I’m using a 128 and two 64’s. Everything works as it should but the transfer speeds are a let down, I’m getting are 3 to 6 mbps when booted on rockbox and 3 mbps max when in disk mode. Are these speeds normal and is there anything I can do to increase transfer speeds?

  16. Support

    @Jake – If the music players used a standard FAT32 partition table then you should be ok to just install and use iTunes to restore. If you are going to format then format to FAT32, you can then choose Mac format during the iTunes restore process.

  17. Jake

    I recently bought a quad for my 7G classic, and if I plan on using a
    200gb microsd, new
    200gb micro sd previously used in a music player
    and 128gb micro sd previously used in a camera
    should I reformat the ones previously used, before putting them in? Should I reformat all of them for uniformity? Or would it be enough to erase all of the current files on them.

    If I should re format (I’m on a mac)–should I choose FAT32, Mac OS extended, or ExFAT?

    all of the memory cards are sandisk ultras, by the way


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