Convert your 4th Gen iPod to use Flash Memory

Picture of Convert your 4th Gen iPod to use Flash Memory
We all have or know of someone who has an iPod with a dead hard drive. Of course you can simply buy another drive but you're back to the same power-hungry, failure-prone, fragile rotating media. Instead, upgrade your iPod to use Flash Memory. Sure a hard drive can hold all 30,000 of your songs, but even a 4GB card can hold over 24 hours of music - I usually change out songs often enough that I don't need to carry 20+ Gig of songs at all times.

Before you comment, I know there are a few people out there who have already done the upgrade. I don't claim to be the first to do this but I am the first to write an instructable for it (I think).

You can also check out my new Bluetooth 5G iPod Video at

Let's get started!

NOTE: If you're looking for my instructable on how to add Internal Bluetooth capability to your iPod, click here
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Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

1) Unlike my other instructable where I showed How Do Upgrade Your iPod Mini With Flash Memory, you cannot simply replace the hard drive with a flash card. The 1.8" drive and CF interfaces are similar but you will need an adapter to bridge the interface from the card to the HD connector on the iPod.

I purchased the adapter for under $15 from an Asian vendor on eBay. It is not pretty but it works.

2) You will also need some cardboard and some hot melt glue or double sided foam tape.

3) iPod-Opening tools (non-marking plastic tools and/or flathead screwdriver.

5) Your iPod wall charger unit

5) Of course, you will need a fully ATA-Compliant Compact Flash card. Any size will work, but you can now get 8GB cards for under $70 as of this writing. I've had good luck with Transcend and Sandisk. Check the specs, not all cards will work.

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Petra0072 months ago

After I have read here. I decided to pimp my IPod 4th gen too. After some studies, I orderd a MXSSD1MNANO50-240G SSD. Now this SSD works since 1 month in my IPod. I formated the SSD with ITunes and used Winamp to store my mp3s back to the SSD. Now I have 147GB mp3 on it and 75GB free.

metrocon4 months ago

Thanks! I just put a 128GB compact flash card in my old 60GB iPod Photo. I had some small issues that were sorted out by putting it into disk mode before iTunes would see it, and I used the original firewire charger for the restore. Currently have synced over 80GB to it with no problems.

Hurley98 metrocon2 months ago

So you have the full use of the 128GB? I thought iPod 4th gens has a cut of point of 60GB?

brunoaco2 months ago

is it possible to use a cfast card?

chuchunw5 months ago

@ Cmontagu.

Actually it is not your cables. Well, sort of, but not the quality of the cable. The reason you had trouble with the USB cable is simply that, it's a USB, and not a Firewire cable, read on.

To restore the 4th Gen. iPod classic, you need the higher voltage of the Firewire charger. Firewire (IEEE 1394) specs says up to 30V and Apple's implementation uses 12V on their dock and Firewire wall charger. There is a separate pin on the 30-pin dock connector for this 12v voltage (different pin from the 5v on the USB) and that's what the 4th iPod needs to be charged from after replacing the hard disk (or compact flash card). The USB charging cables/chargers, whether it's the genuine Apple or aftermarket, provides only 5v per USB specs. While they work well for normal charging, do not work for restoring the iPod 4g after hard drive.

So to anyone who's thinking about replacing the hard drive in the 4th gen. iPod Classic, make sure you have access to a Firewire charger or the original dock.

pras10118 months ago


Can you tell us which CF convertor to a zif to CF adapter you used?

cmontagu9 months ago

I just realized that the last person to post a comment was 4 years ago. I just did this hack. Everything went fairly smoothly, although there are some caveats that will definitely help you get through this. I upgraded from a dying 20gb to a 64gb Sandisk mini SD through a CF convertor to a zif to CF adapter. The install went well. I plugged it in to the ipod, and itunes asked to restore the ipod. After it went through the install, the ipod got stuck with a "plug into an outlet" icon. It took a couple hours, of re-formatting, trying other sd cards, and forced rebootings for me to come across the answer. The only thing that worked was to find the original power adapter that came with the ipod. The cheap usb to 30pin cables I had been using were not cutting it, even when plugged into adapters with higher amp ratings than the original. For whatever reason, when I plugged it into my old dusty firewire to 30pin power adapter, the ipod booted right up into the gui. It appears that the ipod is VERY sensitive to the quality of cable that you use when first doing this hack, and when transferring the songs. I'm currently loading songs onto it to see how things go. So far so good. Thanks for the instructions!

Dapper D2 years ago
I have completed the conversion as instructed but have a problem. iPod is model A1059, board is 820-1723A and I've used a Transcend 32GB 133x CF. All went well and I was able to restore the iPod. After the initial restore it said to plug the iPod to the power source. I did that and the restore completed. But when I connect the iPod back to my Windows 7 laptop computer, iTunes does not recognize it. Windows sees it as iPod formatted as FAT32 but cannot access it. Under properties it is shown as disk completely full with no data. I haven't been able to get iTunes or Windows to read it. The iPod says that it is formatted for Windows and has 29.7 GB available. When I take the CF and use a card reader the CF is accessible in Windows and that there is 29.7GB available. I also cannot get the iPod into disk mode or diagnostic mode. It just restarts and goes to the main menu.
Is there a way to do a forced restore?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
@Dapper D:
I was having the same issues you are having. I have the same ipod model and I'm using the same CF card. I have found a work-around in order to load your music from itunes and keep it from freezing.
-You have to enable Disk Mode in order to load music without any issues
1. Before placing the iPod into Disk Mode, verify that it is charged.
2. Toggle the Hold switch on and off (set it to Hold, then turn it off again.)
3. Press and hold the Menu and Select buttons for at least six seconds, until the Apple logo appears.
4 .When the Apple logo appears, release the Menu and Select buttons and immediately press and hold the Select and the Play/Pause buttons until the Disk Mode screen appears.
5. Connect your ipod to your computer and it should be immediatly recognized.
6. Transfer your music
7. Once done, disconnect your ipod from your computer
8. Press and hold the Menu and Select buttons for at least six seconds, until the Apple logo appears, in order to reset the device and get out of disk mode.

That should be it.
mawx lococacho11 months ago

This worked for me too ! I plugged my brand new 32Gg CF Card from Transcend :) and the sync with iTunes works perfectly.

thank you btw for this instructables :)

This worked for me. Thanks much, I spent hours (and $$$) trying to figure this out.

What I messed up the first time round when I read your comment was step #4. For future readers, be sure to press BOTH the Select and the Play/Pause buttons.

I'm cookin' with 32GB of listening materials on a 4Gen IPOD.

Thank you so much, Lococacho! It worked!!

As I stated in my post I couldn't get the iPod into disk mode but because of your post I kept trying to get it into disk mode. I found that I must switch to the Select-Play/Pause combo immediately after the Apple logo appears, considerably less than the "at least six seconds" that Apple instructs. Maybe it's the difference between the CF and HDD.

Thanks again.
FunkyRelic2 years ago
Anybody tried using one of these KingSpec KSD-CF18.6-128MS 1.8" SSD drives in an iPod Photo 60GB? Seems like this would be ideal if it works.

Hi, I know it might be late, but I recently succeeded in this project as you mentioned. I use KingSpec CF interfaced SSD 32GB in a 4th gen none photo. Totally awesome. Make sure you use a CF interface one if you're using it on an older iPod like 4th gens.

ch34701 year ago
(removed by author or community request)

As a follow-up to my previous post, I am still enjoying great success with the two mods I made using the Transcend 64Gb cards (TS64GCF400). They are fast (400x) and are UDMA 6 compliant (default setting).

So, ymmv, but that is my experience.

(and, cheato...please don't reply with any more math equations. zero value add...I knew I wouldn't get more than 59.5Gb capacity)

Tommy Gunn1 year ago

Have appreciated this thread and thought I'd give back by letting people know I was able to successfully install a 64Gb Transcend card into a 4th gen photo using the exact method detailed here. Capacity is 59.5Gb. Will likely end up putting this into a 4th gen non-photo, as I prefer that screen. FYI, I also upgrade these with Rockbox firmware. Stoked on this hack...only wish is that the firmware would accept cards > 60Gb (which I highly doubt and it's too expensive to experiment).


billyjeans1 year ago
Same problem here: folder icon with exclamation
Successfully solved with this video instruction:

I have had this working before with 16GB and 32GB flash drives.

But since I ran out of space recently I upgraded to a 64GB flash drive.

Everything goes ok up to the point of restoring the iPod in iTunes. The PC locks up during the restore step.

I've tried two different iPods and two different flash to ide adapters without success.

Anybody get this to work with a 64GB flash? I'm wondering if there is some limitation of the 4th generation firmware that won't let it operate with a drive this big?

Honuhonu1 year ago
Hi everyone !
I was about to give up on this hack.
I have a 4G ipod and I bought a 32gb Kingston ultimate 266x CF card. I installed it using the cheap adapter that I bought from Deal Extrem.
When I plugged it in my computer the thing didn't stop looping (dead folder, apple logo).
I then tried to remove the ribbon cable then reattahed it. and voilà ! It works like a charm.
Try this if your card doesn't seem to work for you !
lokiju4 years ago
I realize that this is an old post but I just did this to my old and otherwise dead 4th gen HP branded 20GB iPod and brought new life back into it.

I bought the zif/1.8" to CF adapter from DealExtreme like most others here mentioned and bought a CF to MicroSD from Amazon for $17 shipped since I already had a few 8GB microSD cards sitting around not in use and CF is way to expensive for my taste. Since I already had the 8GB microSD card on hand, it only cost me $22 with shipping to get my old faithful up and running again!

I have an iPhone, Droid and 16GB 6th Gen iPod Nano but still can't help but try and breath life back into old gadgets that otherwise perform as desired.

I didn't see this site or post until after I had all the parts in hand and was trying to figure out if I should cut off the plastic piece on the iPod side of the cable or not but just wanted to share my experience with others in case it can be of any help.

Cool site btw.
pll02a lokiju4 years ago
I also have an iPod 4th gen revision 820-1723-A (2004).

I tried with the el-cheapo Deal Extreme 1.8 IDE to CF adapter, a 128 MB CF card that I had lying around, as well as with a CF-to-SD
adapter and an 8 GB SD card.

In both cases, iTunes tried but was unable to initialize the iPod, Disk Utility saw the iPod as an "Apple Computer" device but when I tried to initialize it I got an "out of memory" error (have seen similar errors when you use Disk Utility with an external drive whose I/O hardware is not supported). I tried partitioning the SD card via an SD reader and pre-installing the firmware from the iPod's original drive, but again, no luck.

I can always get the iPod into diagnostic and then disk mode, but otherwise the iPod always boots to a screen telling me to call Apple Support.

Any ideas what to try next? I am reluctant to invest in a 16 or 32 GB CF card if this isn't going to work.
lokiju pll02a4 years ago
From the research I did a lot of the reasons people couldn't get the "drive" to format was just random luck with the SD card.

Have you tried other brands?
pll02a lokiju2 years ago
Lokiju, you're 100% right - I tried a SansDisk 1GB CF card and then it all worked. Well, almost, the old Y cable that had both Firewire and USB for the iPod only let me use disk mode over Firewire - but a later USB-only cable worked for syncing with USB.
wastefish2 years ago
Thought I'd share that I did this with an Ipod Photo and it worked like a charm, restored on the first try without issues. Repacing the existing 30gb HDD, used the Transcend 32gb 133X flash card and the flash adapter frm Amazon that has the metal case that looks like a hard drive. Also installed new battery while it was open. The metal case adapter is a little more expensive, but no fiddling with cardboard needed, just reuse the blue bumpers from the hard drive and your good to go.
Embryoyo2 years ago
Hi there!
Very nice instructable you have here!

I tried this with my Ipod 4 gen 20GB yesterday. But I have a problem. I bought the Delock Converter and a Hama 16GB CF Card. Everything fitted fine. But my IPod only shows the Apple symbol. Nothing else happens. I can't do anything.
The IPod isn't displayed on my Mac Desktop or in iTunes. I also don't see it in the Disk Utility.

Can anyone help me please?
crypt243 years ago
after Doing this upgrade does everything work as it should and does it allow music downloaded or ripped from cd's to be added easier than withe the hard drive
c.zero3 years ago
Just follow this instruction to replace a Transcend 133X 32G CF card to my iPod 4Gen (820-1535-A)

Everything work fine, but there are two problems.

1. When i select a music to play, the first 1-3 seconds i can hear noise from my headphone.

2. After i plug my iPod into my Desktop, the battery level will become lower!!!!

Anyone have same situations ??????
catpoo c.zero3 years ago
- I see what you mean - if I put the volume to zero and select a new track I can hear a faint 'bzzt' noise for a second or two depending on how long the track is. Presumably this is an artifact of the song being loaded into the RAM from the card. I can't say if something similar happened with the HDD inside. I don't notice it if I have the track at normal volume.
- I haven't noticed any odd battery behaviour except it doesn't last long, however it's 8 years old and heavily used. I'm buying a new one.
catpoo3 years ago
I have the 820-1535-A revision of the iPod 4G Classic that is problematic for some people, however I just got 32GB CF memory working first time. I followed the instructions, bent the jumper, left 6 pin sockets from the left bare etc. I used the CF to IDE adapter found here:
And a Transcend 133x 32GB CF card bought here:
Thanks very much for the instructions and help, great stuff!
ozolins3 years ago
Does any one know if a 64GB CompactFlash card would or would not work in my 4g iPod (U2 edition)? I'm trying to revive this old iPod that meant a lot to my girlfriend and I thought I'd give it some legitimate potential and put in a 64GB card, using the CF to IDE adapter from StarTech that comes with a metal case so it looks just like the 1.8" HDD.

I just put it in and connected to the computer. Surprisingly iTunes was fine with it right of the bat so I tried putting a few songs on. It came formatted exFat which seemed to be working. Soon, though, it started acting flaky. Couldn't finish copying, then iTunes wanted to do it's initialization (I forget the exact word). Pretty soon, nothing, Won't even eject. Now I take it back out of the iPod and put it in my card reader, and OSX says it's a 35MB drive (not 64GB!) and I can't do anything to it. Try to format with Disk Utility and it starts off looking good, saying 1 minute. Then the progress bar goes half way and stops, and the time starts going up.

Ok, so I'm just wondering where my problem is. Is 64GB too big for this card? Do I have a bad ($120 from eBay) card, is it the adapter? Any advice appreciated, thanks.
bengriggs3 years ago
Not sure what I'm missing. 20GB 4th Gen HP iPod. I ordered the CF adapter - one that was listed on ebay as compatible with 4th gen. When I go to install it, it doesn't fit. The IDE cable has 42 pins, while the adapter has 50. I go back to ebay, and all of the adapters have 50 pins. When doing a Google search, I can't even find a 42 pin micro IDE cable. They're all 40,44 or 50. Anybody else run into this?

Just seen your post. Hope you have sorted your problem, but if not have a read of mine and hopefully all will be sorted. get back if not. Cheers!!
eltonbolt3 years ago
Just thought I would share my experience after following some of the advice on here. Firstly got a bargain for a 32Gb card from Amazon - Just over £30 'all-in' for a brand new, pretty respectable make and high read/write rate. Grab it while you can:

And got the converter from this seller:

The changeover is easy, but as I can see from bengriggs comments, there has been some confusion regarding the number of pins. My converter had 6 extra 'holes' but it was clearly labelled which one was Pin 1. See Voraz's photo and all will become clear.

There were some other issues with getting the iPod to recognise the new drive. Off my own back, I plugged in the iPod to the 'puter and waited for the 'Mass Storage Device' to become ready. Any time iTunes popped up, I ignored it and shut it down. From 'My Computer' I right-clicked the new drive, selected 'Format' and carried out a FULL format. I then disconneted the device from the computer via the USB icon in the bottom right corner.

I then opened iTunes, paused, then reconnected the iPod. iTunes then recognised it as an iPod but stated it needed a 'Restore'. Selected 'Restore' button, then when it told me, transferred to external power supply where the iPod carried on the restore. Next thin you know, the language selection came up and all was done! Happy days.

All I've got to do now is pad it out and secure it........think I might even treat myself to a1200mAH battery from eBay.......It'll last f***ing ages then!!! :D

All this for less than £45!! Gotta be worth it!!
Beduk3 years ago
Can i do this thing using my ipod touch?/
roland985 Beduk3 years ago
The touch already has flash memory far higher in capacity to that of a CF card...
I have a 820-1535-A Motherboard and am testing with an old 512mb flash card. My computer will not recognize the ipod and cycles between boot, disk mode, and corrupt file icon. Can anyone help?
ffsman3 years ago
I had the same problem as all the other people here with a not any more working 4 th Generation Clickwheel ipod and already bought an CF-adapter similar to the Delock one.
Since I was trying to get it to work all evening with a CN memory 4GB CF card I suddenly held the flat ribbon cable (the hard drive connector) in my hands. Testwise put the old - supposed to be dead - Toshiba harddrive - and it just works again!
So this might be worth a look. Obviously the ribbon cable can slide out of the mainboard connector without being noticed after disassembly. And it is not too easy to put back in. I taped it with a sticky carpet tape in order to prevent this. Good luck to all the dead electronics reanimators!
Burf4 years ago
I found this 'ible about a month ago while looking for a guide on how to open my iPod 4th Gen, 20Gb without destroying the case in the process.  My original intent was to replace the battery which held a usable charge for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. I decided that I really liked my nearly 7 year old iPod and a complete refurbish was a worthwhile project.
I went on-line and ordered a new battery, a 1 1/8" ZIFF to compact flash adapter and a CF card. I found a 32 Gb Transcend CF on sale for $34, an adapter for $6 and the battery for $9. Total: $49.
I eventually found a guide to open the case at  Opening the case without marring it turned out to be the most challenging part of the refurb. After four or five attempts, I got it opened.  I didn't like the cardboard spacer so I used a piece of an old mouse pad, which worked great.
The actual installation of the components took no more than 20-30 minutes and I now have a like new iPod 4Gen that has an additional 12 Gb of storage and has lasted nearly 20 hours on a single charge.
I plan on using this thing for another 7 years.

account3r24 years ago
what kind of mem does the ipod touch run on? flash or HDD
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