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.

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

  1. JN

    use Sandisk compact flash no issues. its the Red cheap CF to SD adapter are sometimes hit or miss (more miss lately). Yes, SD/micro are way cheaper and easily available but I dont like using them with CF to SD adapter for these reasons. Compactflash card directly plug/play works everytime. Go with Sandisk and I using avoid the higher end speeds.

  2. David

    Hi All,
    I’ve just bought an iFlash Solo and am hoping to upgrade my 6.5 gen 120gb Ipod Classic. I’m now looking to buy my SDXC card and am looking at the Samsung PRO Plus (Purple) UHS-I (U3) A2 V30 128gb micro SDXC card. I’ve seen these comments about FAT/exFAT and wondered whether I will have to reformat this before I can use it? Or, will I just be able to put it in the iFlash Solo ‘as is’ and then just restore the iPod with iTunes? Any help is much appreciated!

    1. Peter Mayhew

      David, most cards are formatted when you get them but it might be an idea to format it anyway so that you can make sure that it is formatted in ex fat format. I have found that iTunes has a wonderful way of ‘messing’ up memory cards, especially in a multi-card adapter. Because of this I suggest that you do not completely close up your I pod, just push together the main connector end leaving the screen end slightly open to save messing up the back if the iPod has to be opened again if the card needs removing to format it again. There was a very useful post recently concerning restoring an iPod that does not restore and I think that it shows up as ‘error 1493’ which is a hard drive / memory card problem. Apparently iTunes restores by putting a partition on the card which has to be removed before it can restore again and formatting doesn’t always remove the partition. I use Disk Manager to find the card then right click on any Raw / ex-fat partitions and ‘delete volume’ until there are no partitions then right click the single partition and click ‘new simple volume’ and a menu box pops up and it should be fairly obvious to follow but remember to change from NTFS to ex-fat as you navigate the menus. Once that’s done I usually format the card again, just to be sure’ and you should end up with a useable memory card.

    2. David

      Hi Peter.
      Thanks very much for your reply. That sounds like great advice. I had understood that most cards over 64gb are usually pre formatted as exFAT but that the iPod needs to use FAT – am I wrong with this and exFAT is OK to use for the iPod OS? Essentially, I suppose the question is, should the card be formatted as exFAT or FAT? Thanks again! Steep learning curve this end! David

    3. Peter Mayhew

      Hi David, definitely format to ex-fat. I have converted quite a few iPods and always format to Ex-fat. I usually use a quad iFlash and when the iPod will not restore it’s always the 1 card in slot 1 that is partitioned and has a RAW partition on it so this is why your single slot card might need the partitions removing if things go wrong. I very often use MyMemory own brand cards as they, have a lifetime guarantee and they seem as reliable as other makes but are a fair bit cheaper. I have just had to get a replacement Integral 512GB card that windows, explorer, device manager, Aomei or disk manager would recognise but I have had the same issue with SanDisk and a Samsung cards. I sometimes have issues getting iTunes to recognise an iPod but eventually if you persevere I get them to show up in iTunes, often by unplugging the iPod, even when it says always eject before disconnecting. Be very gentle with all of the flip up cable clamps as they can break easily, be especially careful of the battery connection on the main board as they are lightly soldered on to the board and do pull off when levering up the clamp and even when pushing the clamp down on the cable if you aren’t careful. I use a paper clip bent into an ‘L’ shape to gently prise up the clamp. There’s a guy on eBay who solders on a new battery clamp for £30 + p & p and as the price of iPods has rocketed it’s better than buying another IPod. Check that the main connection port is clear of debris, be careful with the hard drive flexible connector as they can be damaged and make sure that there is nothing sticking up under the LCD screen otherwise you get a black mark that goes when the pressure is removed. Finally, when prising off the back try not to lever around the LCD area otherwise it will break the screen if you get it wrong. Good luck and I’m sure that it will go well.

    4. David

      Many thanks Peter – your advice is very much appreciated. I will have a look at the MyMemory cards and also see if they sell sdxc card readers too as I assume I’ll need one to be able to format one of the cards? I’ll try and be as careful as I can with regard to disassembly and reassembly – didn’t realise the connectors were as fragile as you suggest so will take extra care with these. Thanks again, David

    5. Peter Wright

      Fat32 is best I found, I got the partition issue with the 120gb ipod when trying to use larger than 128gb cards I think it’s to do with the limit on the memory size of that generation of ipod, the only way I could clear the card was to do a slow delete ( not fast as offered) after right clicking on it in my computer aomi free version wouldn’t delete the card
      the tip about not fully assembling the ipod before testing is good advice I’ve been caught several times being too confident

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