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  • Prepare SDXC (ExFat) for use with the iPod

10th March 2014

Prepare SDXC (ExFat) for use with the iPod


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.


Posted on Mon, 10th March 2014 at 12:16 pm under Modding, Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 74 responses to “Prepare SDXC (ExFat) for use with the iPod”

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  1. 1 On March 18th, 2014, Pete said:

    Hi Tarkan,

    I’m using a 6th gen ipod with the iflash, a “4th gen” cf adaptor and a Patriot 128gb sdxc card in conjunction with Windows 7. I’ve completed the above steps several times and still get files that will not play and random ipod resets. I have no troubles loading the ipod and have 30-40 gb of free space when I finish. Any ideas as to the cause? Thanks!

  2. 2 On March 18th, 2014, cmarti said:

    I wonder if this is what I needed to do to those two 256gb CF cards that I ended up returning to the manufacturer… Nice tutorial Tarkan!

  3. 3 On March 19th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    First I would try another SD-CF Adapter, if that does not work you may have to stick to CF cards instead.

  4. 4 On March 19th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    CMARTI – I suppose if they came ExFAT formatted than maybe….

  5. 5 On March 19th, 2014, Pete said:

    Thanks. I’m going to try your new cf adapter and see if that helps.

  6. 6 On March 27th, 2014, cmarti said:

    Tarkan – They came formatted in ExFAT but I formatted them to FAT32 and installed them in iPod video and also a Classic. One of the cards worked in the Classic but it got corrupted when transferring music. After that it only showed a 30mb partition in windows, the second card did the same but it never worked in any of my iPods including a 1st generation Mini.

  7. 7 On March 28th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Sounds like they were generally not compatible, but you never know the MBR trick may have fixed it….

  8. 8 On March 28th, 2014, cmarti said:

    Yeah that what I thought.

  9. 9 On March 30th, 2014, Pete said:

    Received your CF adapter on Friday and tried it with the 128gb sdxc card that was filled from my previous attempts. Success!! Thanks for providing a solution!

  10. 10 On March 31st, 2014, Shaun said:

    Hi Tarkan,

    I have started seeing some of these issues with my 64 gb SDXC card, Do you know if I can format/repartition it while its in the ipod or does it have to be removed to do this??

    Thanks Tarkan

    PS Thanks for an awesome mod for my dead Ipod!!

  11. 11 On March 31st, 2014, cmarti said:

    @ Shaun, I think you can do this if you put your iPod in disk mode.

  12. 12 On April 1st, 2014, Matthew said:

    What is the importance of the SSD Partition Alignment? Are there pro’s and con’s to going in either direction, or must you check this no matter what? Would you have any concerns in performing this on a CF card? Would you do anything differently?

  13. 13 On April 1st, 2014, Shaun said:

    Thanks cmarti, Disk mode worked fine. I did notice a few differences from the above tutorial when using the AOMEI though:
    1. Delete all partitions gives two options, a fast or a slower complete delete. I went with the slower complete as I had 50 gb of music on the drive so wanted to start clean.
    2. When doing the partition there was no SSD option in the advanced settings, I’m guessing the software now figures this out so its not necessary, but not sure.
    3.After completing the repartition process the ipod didn’t require a restore, it was already good to start using after setting the language.Not sure if that means something didn’t go quite right or if all is well but will load some tunes and see how it goes for the next few weeks then let you know.

    Thanks again Gentlemen.

  14. 14 On April 2nd, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Matthew. Never tried it on a CF as not had a CF with these issues – I think the most important item is to rebuild the MBR and delete all the partitions, the partitions created by the iPod are all correctly aligned anyway. I include the Partition Alignment because it is something I have always done, and once the procedure is done you cannot go back to the factory condition to test if selecting or not Partition Alignment actually makes a difference.

    Something I will have to try and remember to do if I get a card that needs the AOMEI treatment.

  15. 15 On April 2nd, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Shaun. Let me know if that has changed anything, but if you did not have to restore the iPod – not sure what AOMEI deleted then!! Also the only way to get at the MBR is to use a card reader, with the iPod Classics (6g, 7g) the underlying disk is better exposed so it may be possible to leave the card in the iPod for them.

  16. 16 On April 16th, 2014, Chris said:

    My ipod classic (6th gen) can’t be restored. I keep getting an error 1349 code.I put my ipod into disk mode and changed it to fat32,but when I disconnect the ipod, I have to reset my card from exfat to fat32 again.I’m new at this and your help is very much appreciated.

  17. 17 On April 22nd, 2014, Shaun said:


    Just a follow up to my Ipod disc format, I did see some issues a few days after the format so I did a restore on the Ipod and it has been working fine since. not sure why it let me use it without restoring in the first place but there you go. I do have one weird issue, when I hook up to my Mac at home at first it states corrupt ipod and I just disconnect and reconnect it, then it works fine. Then after using it on my Mac it does the same thing on my PC at work. If I just keep using the PC it is always good to go so not sure what that is to do with.

  18. 18 On April 24th, 2014, Tim said:

    So, this tutorial is for Windows, I am a Mac user so do I just use DiskUtility to format PNY 128GB Elite Performance 90MB/s SDXC Class 10 Flash memory Card (P-SDX128U1H-GE)? If so, could you or someone point me to the link or post specific instructions? Thank you

  19. 19 On April 24th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Yes try Disk Utility, I think it allows you to choose the partitioning scheme to use in this case use MBR.

  20. 20 On April 25th, 2014, Shaun said:

    Final update, just after my last update my ipod started doing some funky stuff again so it appears you cannot format/repartition the cards while in the ipod.

    Hope that helps.

  21. 21 On May 3rd, 2014, Mohats said:

    Hello, I have just installed the iFlash with the SD CF adaptater and a 128 GB sandisk extreme SDXC UHS-I in an iPod 7th gen. I followed all the instructions, everything worked ok, but the iPod did not reboot. It stays with the apple on the screen. I try with the 160 GB HDD, it worked well. I repeated the instructions with SD card once again, with the same result. Is there a solution or should I try another SDXC card (which are quite expensive)?

  22. 22 On May 3rd, 2014, Tarkan said:


    There is a timing issue between your iPod and the SD-CF Adapter. The only way to fix it is to try another SD-Cf Adapter, I will send you another SD-CF Adapter if you can return that one.

    I have sent you an email.

  23. 23 On May 3rd, 2014, Mohats said:

    I changed the process. I did format for the third time in fat32 the SDXC card with AOMEI with my 2013 PC laptop which has got a SDXC card reader. I put the card in the iPod, then I plugged it in my 2010 Macbook pro and format in fat32 with disk utility. I restored with iTunes, and for the third time it failed. I unplugged the iPod, then plugged in my MBP once again and restored with iTunes and finally it worked ok, at least for transfer (faster than the hdd). I hope playing music will be ok. Many thanks.

  24. 24 On May 3rd, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Ok well if everything works ok we will leave it, but otherwise we can swap the SD-CF Adapter.

  25. 25 On May 3rd, 2014, Tim said:

    Just to follow up, I used PNY 128GB Elite Performance 90MB/s SDXC Class 10 Flash memory Card (P-SDX128U1H-GE), formatted it using iMac 27″ with built in SD card reader, inserted into the adapter and then plugged into iTunes on the same iMac 27″ and had no issues whatsoever. Transfer of 13,450 songs was way faster than noted. Very pleased with these results. IMHO, using a Mac and disk utility was way easy and native to iPod Classic is the best way to go. I even ordered another adapter for my other iPod video. Thanks Tarken for your hard work in making this option a reality for many.

  26. 26 On May 4th, 2014, Tim said:

    Hey Tarkan,
    I’m using Model #MB150LL, with PNY 128GB Elite Performance 90MB/s SDXC Class 10 Flash memory Card (P-SDX128U1H-GE), and your SD-CF Adapter including the ribbon for the 6Gen iPod Classic. I formatted using Disk Utility from my iMac, install version 1.1.2 software. I synced 13,450 songs which left 158MB free. When I play music, it will play a few songs then freeze up. Do you think I just need to reformat and start over?
    Your thoughts? Thank you

  27. 27 On May 4th, 2014, Tim said:

    By the way, I did format at Fat32 not exfat.

  28. 28 On May 5th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Hi Tim,

    Have emailed you with something to try. It could be your Classic has timing issues with the SD-CF Adapter.

  29. 29 On May 15th, 2014, Raymond said:

    Hi Tarkan,
    Thanks for your extensive info that it gives me faith to hold on to my ipod 5th gen.
    I have a laptop with SD slot. Can I use that slot with the sd card and proceed with the steps without getting SD-CF adapter + USB memory card reader? I’m still on windows XP with exFAT file system update (KB955704) installed.

  30. 30 On May 15th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Yes you can, but make sure your laptop SD slot is SDXC compatible.

  31. 31 On May 17th, 2014, Noel said:

    Hi Tarkan,

    I have a Kingston Class 10 UHS-I SDXC 64GB. I have tried all the steps mentioned above but my iPod Video 5g still transfers music from itunes really slow. In addition, my itunes would hang for at least 10-15 seconds for every 5 songs it gets transferred into my iPod Video 5g. Any advice would be recommended. Thanks.

  32. 32 On June 6th, 2014, james said:

    Hi Tarkan,

    I am experiencing the same problems with music skipping and then freezing on the same track – only doing a soft reset by holding menu and the select button will unfreeze it.

    This is even after removing the SD card and formatting with the steps above using my laptop SD card reader.

    I am using a SanDisk 64gb card which you have pointed out in our previous correspondence should not be an issue.

    Hope you could help me diagnose and troubleshoot my situation.


  33. 33 On July 10th, 2014, SAM said:

    Did anybody experiment with changing cluster size while formatting? highly recommended 2048 came back the same for me. I am more and more tending to the thought it is electrical problem -not enough supply for such big capacity – like I had it with external hi capacity HDDs connected to the extention USB ports. Any thoughts? Ipod 5.5 80gb running on cf-cd from Tarkan with Transcend ultimate 128gb sd. How can we increase power loss then…

  34. 34 On July 11th, 2014, cmarti said:


    This is what you are looking for: http://www.ebay.com/itm/APPLE-IPOD-FIREWIRE-USB-DOCK-CONNECTOR-CABLE-M9688G-A-GENUINE-OEM-NEW-SEALED-/261522108196?pt=US_MP3_Player_Cables_Adapters&hash=item3ce3eeaf24

    I got one and worked like a charm when i loaded my 480gb and 512gb iPods.

  35. 35 On August 25th, 2014, Eric said:

    Hi Tarkan,

    I have done these steps, but I am still getting the same skipping issue. I noticed that this process does not mention that after putting the card back in the iPod and plugging it in, Windows would say a format is required before use, even though itunes recognized it. Should I cancel this second format, or is it a supplement to the re-partitioning that you describe here?

  36. 36 On August 26th, 2014, Eric said:


    Everything has gotten worse. After one attempt at re partitioning that seemed successful, I am now unable to restore my iPod. Sometimes I can’t even get iTunes or my computer to recognize the iPod, and when I do the restoration process begins with no signs of any progress. I left it “restoring” all night to no avail. I would rather have it skip songs every now and then than be completely useless! Please help!


  37. 37 On August 26th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Eric, What card and iPod are you working on? Also have you checked the card is ok, by running something like H2testw with the card in an SDXC card reader?

  38. 38 On November 2nd, 2014, Aiko said:

    Hi Tarkan

    As I read the comments above as those from Tim (post 26, 28), I think I might as well have wht you call a “timing issue between your iPod and the SD-CF Adapter”.
    Same iPod, a 128Gb SDXC Class10 Kingston and did everything described above, also solving possible partitioning problems.

    For now, I’ve been using the iPod in my car only for a year, but I’d like to know if it could be fixed by using a different adapter.

    Thanks, Aiko

  39. 39 On November 2nd, 2014, Tim said:

    Hey Aiko,
    In my case (gen 6 ipod) I ended up using a 128 gig compact flash. We could not get the sd card and adapter to work. Hope this helps.


  40. 40 On November 3rd, 2014, Tarkan said:

    I have stopped recommending the Kingston 128Gb SD, seems to be a 50/50 chance of ending up with a card which skips or freezes. Sometimes swapping the adapters can fix it but it is luck if that fixes it.

  41. 41 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    I recently got a 512gb sd card. And it worked okay, and then all of a sudden it only reads 32mb. Can you tell me what happened, or how I can fix this? I would greatly appreciate it.

  42. 42 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Sounds like the SD card has released from the SD-CF Adapter.

  43. 43 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    I have tried just about everything I can think of. It only reads 32mb, and the ipod will not accept it. When it did in the beginning. I even tried putting it in the card reader, and still it only reads 32mb.

  44. 44 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    So even in an SDXC card reader you still see 32Mb?

    Have you tried running AOMEI and looking at the actually partition data on the card. The 32Mb is normally the boot partition created by the iPod restore process (for the 5g’s).

  45. 45 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Yeah I did, and now I can’t even get AOMEI to read it. Doesn’t make any sense. What could be wrong?

  46. 46 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Sounds like a failed SDXC card – I had a Lexar 256Gb do something very similiar, had to RMA it.

  47. 47 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    What is RMA?

  48. 48 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Return to Manufacturer and get it replaced.

  49. 49 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Oh okay. lol I did contact the seller earlier and he told me to put it in another camera…..

  50. 50 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Which card is it? Unless it is a big seller, maybe worth doing the RMA process with the manufacturer, they tend to be quicker at swapping it.

  51. 51 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    It is called an ADATA 512gb SD/SDHC card. And it is mostly in Chinese with some English.

  52. 52 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Anyway I think it completely failed, because I can’t even get the reader to pick it up at all.

  53. 53 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Sorry to break it to you – that is not real. All of them Chinese made ADATA/SAMSUNG SDHC cards are normally 8Gb cards which have been reflashed to show up as 256Gb or 512Gb.

  54. 54 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Oh really? So the price was too good to be true. Figures, that really sucks.

  55. 55 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    I don’t know where but I have explained about these cards on various comments on the site.

    But the most obvious things is :- SDHC standard is limited to 32Gb, SDXC standard starts from 64Gb and goes to 2Tb, also the price is a big give away.

  56. 56 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Yeah I only paid like $48 for it. Serves me right for getting suckered. Now I can’t get my 256gb to accept Rockbox. One thing and then another.

  57. 57 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Yeah so I noticed on ebay they are selling 512gb ipods with flash drives. And they go from $750 to $850. Do you know much about that, and is it possible for me to get a flash drive and build my own?

  58. 58 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Yes they are using my iFlash-SATA, info HERE and HERE, with a 512Gb mSata drive.

  59. 59 On November 12th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Nice, so is there any way I could build a 512gb or 1tb msata drive ipod than what they are going for on ebay?

  60. 60 On November 12th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Yes, you can buy the iFlash-Sata on my store page.

  61. 61 On November 13th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Okay so I can buy the adapter for the flash on your page. My question is, where can I purchase the 500 or 1tb iflash drives? And how much?

  62. 62 On November 13th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    mSata drives can be bought everywhere from Amazon to TigerDirect.

  63. 63 On November 13th, 2014, WildmaN said:

    Okay sounds good. So who has the best price?

  64. 64 On November 26th, 2014, p1erre said:

    I recently purchased 2x iFlash+SD-CF Adapters from you. Both loaded with a 128GB Qumox SDXC.
    I formatted both cards on a Mac using DiskUtility to FAT32.
    The iPod with Apple Firmware runs just fine, iTunes reformatted it to HFS. About 10MB/s, 80GB took about 2,5h.
    But the other iPod running RockBox is really giving me headaches:
    Installed Apple FW via Windows, then Rockbox also via Windows.
    Speed is just at 2,5MB/s, took about 9 hours for the same amount of data.
    Also when connected via Rockbox to Mac, it crashed after 200MB and suddenly “ejected”.
    I had to use diskmode in Apple FW.
    Is there any solution for this?

  65. 65 On November 26th, 2014, Tarkan said:

    Sadly no, it is an issue with the Rockbox USB Handler – best method is to dual boot back in to the Apple Firmware, drag and drop your music, then boot back in to Rockbox.

  66. 66 On January 25th, 2015, Phil said:

    As requested, here are my test results:
    Upgraded an Apple iPod classic (Late 2008/7th Gen) 120 GB (Identifier: 8K90891V2C5)
    with your excellent CF adapter and a 128GB QUMOX SD XC Class 10 card.

    I did the reformat as suggested. I synced 14.5GB of MP3 files to the empty iPod in 17 minutes using iTunes on a PC.
    I did the exact same 14.5GB transfer with another 7 gen 120GB unmodified iPod and that took 15 minutes.

    Do those performance figures sound right? I thought the SD card version would be a bit quicker than the HDD version.


  67. 67 On January 25th, 2015, Tarkan said:

    @Phil – that is right, my SDCF Adapter is limited to 25MB/s, where as the original hard drive tops out around 30MB/s – SDXC card have instant access and seek times compared to the slower HDD so the final transfer times only show a small difference.

  68. 68 On January 26th, 2015, Phil said:

    Ok that’s great. Also regarding battery life, I set both iPods to play non-stop since yesterday afternoon. iPod with HDD made it to a respectable 27 hours, and the other is still 45% full after 27.5 hours :o) Thanks again. Phil

  69. 69 On January 30th, 2015, Jim said:

    I received my SDCF adapter and installed it after formatting my 256 GB PNY SDXC card to Fat32. However, I have been loading FLAC files via windows explorer and rockbox and every couple songs are being truncated or skipped all together. I have tried reformating the SDXC card again with the same issues. Any recommendations?

  70. 70 On January 30th, 2015, kyran said:

    I must admit I am frustrated. I purchased the 128gb kingston class 10 (http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=11_1216_175_176&item_id=053759) last month. Syncing went fine the first time. It wasn’t until I attempted to add more music on later that I encountered an issue. It gave me no other option than to restore it. Which I did after reading this page and erasing and correctly partitioning first. Same issue encountered when attempting to add more music beyond the initial sync except it doesn’t even show up as a disk when connected via 30 pin or in my sd card reader. I noticed you said you’ve stopped recommending the Kingston 128gb but it was still on the iPOD and SDHC – SDXC cards when I made my decision in December. I can now only see if the card may be returned or exchanged

  71. 71 On January 31st, 2015, Tarkan said:

    @Jim – I assume this is a iPod Video?

    The Rockbox USB Handler is totally broken it is very slow and causes corruption – you have to dual boot the iPod back to the Apple OS or boot in to the diskmode and do your transfers like that, after ejecting you can boot back to Rockbox.

  72. 72 On January 31st, 2015, Tarkan said:

    @Kyran – very sorry you are right the list on the article is not in sync with the recommendation on the instruction sheet supplied – The Kingston was a very good card to start out with, but not sure if the internals have been changed or there are faulty or fake in the seller channels, but they are causing all sorts of random issues.

    I personally own one and it works great, where as others have faced various random problems which are cured by replacing the card with another brand!!

  73. 73 On January 31st, 2015, Jim said:

    @Tarkan – disk mode did the trick. Thanks very much!

  74. 74 On April 11th, 2015, Miroslav said:

    Hi Tarkan / Guys,

    I have an iPod classic 6.5G with 160 GB HDD originally

    I have bought recently from you iFlash-SATA (mSata) Adapter. I am using it with Crucial mSATA Model M4-CT256M4SSD3. When formatted under iTunes –

    all goes fine and the drive is recognized as 128 GB.

    Problems come when I try to install EmCore r859. All works fine till I get to the “Formatting…” screen – it just takes forever. After I forcefully

    stop the formatting (waiting 8 hours for it) the iTunes restore procedure fails. Only wiping the whole mSATA in my laptop make the iTunes restore

    work fine. When executing the EmCore initial boot procedure – right after the “Disconnect from the PC …” step I am getting the following error on

    my screen : ATA: Error 80000000 while reading BBT (sector0, count 1).

    Any idea how to fix this?

    I have tried the Partition Recovery procedure on your site, but to no avail. After recovering I can restore back to iTunes, but when I try the

    EmCore boot loader – I am stuck on “formatting…” and the story repeats itself.

    The mSATA drive is for sure in perfect working order. I took it out from my PC after being used for 2.5 years and even did a long format (drive

    wipe) in AOMEI.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Kind Regards

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