Upgrade Your IPod Mini With Flash Memory - No More Hard Drive!





Introduction: Upgrade Your IPod Mini With Flash Memory - No More Hard Drive!

About: Hello, my name is Eddie. I'm one of those people that can't leave well enough alone so I'll inevitably take things apart and modify them to suit my needs. As evidenced from my Instructables, I've been int...

Instead of a hard drive, your new upgraded iPod will use flash memory with no moving parts for faster boot up & access times and lower power consumption.

(I ran my iPod continuously for over 20 hours on one charge!).

You will also get enhanced shock-resistance! Thousands of iPods have died an early death because they were dropped and their hard drives were damaged as a result.

So, if you have an iPod Mini with a bad hard drive or just want to hotrod your existing unit this Instructable is for you.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Ideally, you will need the following items:

Small Phillips Driver
Small Flat Screw Driver
Plastic iPod Opener Tool (optional)
Popsicle stick or other flat wooden stick
Hot Glue Gun
Xacto Knife or Razor Blade
Fully ATA compatible Compact Flash Card (2Gb min)
2nd Generation iPod Mini. If you use an iPod with a bad drive, just make sure that the unit is otherwise fully functional.

Step 2: Opening Your Ipod Mini

Unlike the standard iPods which have two halves, the shell of the Mini is a single piece of aluminum with covers on the top and bottom.

Although you could use the "brute force" method of prying open your iPod with a screw driver, there is a little-known but very elegant way to open your iPod that will leave virtually no signs that it was ever opened!

First, put your iPod on "hold" by sliding the switch. Heat up the glue gun and place a small amount of glue on the top cover and glue the stick to the cover.

Don't worry, the hot glue, when dry will come right off without leaving a mark!

Step 3: Disassembly

Once the top and bottom covers are removed, taking the iPod apart is easy.

Carefully slide the complete assembly out of the case by pushing from the bottom with your finger.

Step 4: Replacing the Hard Drive

Using your iPod tool or other flat instrument, disconnect the hard drive connector from the motherboard by pulling the connector up from the back of the ribbon cable as shown. If you pull from the side, you risk tearing the connector from the ribbon cable!

Take your Xacto knife or razor blade and remove the tape and plastic bumpers from the hard drive. Be careful not to damage the ribbon cable in any way. Now remove the connector from the hard drive pulling slightly from one side and then the other until the pins come out completely.

Now take your ATA compatible CF card and plug into the HD connector "face up" just like the hard drive.

You don't need the rubber bumpers or tape but you will need a small piece of double sided foam tape to attach the card to the motherboard and keep it from rattling around inside your Mini.

Step 5: Restoring the IPod's Firmware

Place the "naked" unit face up on a non-metallic surface and plug into your computer. Either a USB or Firewire connection will work.

Once iTunes is up, allow the program a couple of minutes to recognize the iPod. After recognition, iTunes will ask you if you want to restore the "defective" iPod. Click yes and iTunes will restore the iPod.

Once restored, the iPod will restart and iTunes should recognize the new iPod! Download a couple of songs into the unit and eject the iPod. We're almost done!

Step 6: Finishing Up

Disconnect the iPod from your computer and re assemble the unit by reversing the steps outlined earlier. Be patient, don't force the unit back in its case. Button everything up and test using your headphones.


Plug back into your computer to recharge and enjoy your better-than-new iPod Mini!

3 People Made This Project!


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215 Discussions

Hey guys, I have an old Mini 2nd gen. lying around. I replace the battery and HDD with a micro SDXC 128GB using a Micro SDXC Adapter. All looked great until I went to restore the ipod and it fails. Itunes will go through the process of restoring but it just won't work after it's done. No error message or anything. Here's the adapter I'm using: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01F6VW9MO/ref=o...

Is this incompatible? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated, thanks!

I'm prepping to do the mod myself.. I am using a Linux machine to do the copying, and I'm finding a odd anomaly.. There appears to be a2 partitions, 1, claiming to be blank, by Fdisk, 41mb in length, followed by the 2nd partition, which holds the data files..

Disk /dev/sdx: 3.8 GiB, 4095737344 bytes, 7999487 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x20202020

Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type
/dev/sdx1 63 80324 80262 39.2M 0 Empty
/dev/sdx2 80325 7999486 7919162 3.8G b W95 FAT32
Disk /dev/sdi: 3.8 GiB, 4095737344 bytes, 7999487 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x20202020

Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type
/dev/sdi1 63 80324 80262 39.2M 0 Empty <------<<
/dev/sdi2 80325 7999486 7919162 3.8G b W95 FAT32

Though, i is NOT 100% Empty.. It has some data, a lot of &h00's, and some binary data.. When I do the mod, I plan on cloning the exact content of the partition to the SD card (Yes, you can partition flash RAMs, just like a hard drive.) and doing a complete copy (hidden files as well) from the old drive, to he new SD card. (Yes, I'm going the SDHC to CF adaptor card route.)

I did this - awesome! Thank you. I don't know why my previous comment disappeared, but I'll try again. Instead of glue gun (mislaid) i used packing tape - worked fine, and you can use the rubbery thingy from around the old micro drive to hold the new memory card.

Good tutorial, thanks!

I'm confused, would this work on a second gen Mini? Some of the comments below seem to indicate that 2nd gen Minis are incompatible with CFs.

Great tutorial. I couldn't get mine recognized in iTunes or in disk mode until I realized that the CF card fits "backwards". After opening up the mini again and flipping the CF card, it worked like a charm. I used Transcend TS8GCF133 8 gig and when inserted correctly, the orange Transcend label faces out from the board.

Hi, will this memory card work with a 2nd gen?


Any help gladly appreciated

1 reply

Yes, but id suggest this because of price. http://www.banggood.com/Wholesale-1GB-2GB-4GB-8GB-16GB-32GB-Compact-Flash-CF-Card-Digital-Camera-Memory-Card-p-62876.html

Anyone have an issue with waking their iPod mini back up after it falls into a deep hibernation after performing this mod? I can't wake the iPod up unless I plug it into a dock connector for a brief moment. I should also state that the iPod also won't wake up from or complete a manual reboot (menu + center button hold.)

Great work, I was able to follow along and had great success. I bought a 4g Ipod mini with a weak battery for a few bucks. A new battery, a generic 16gb card, and your Instructable brought it back to life. Thanks!

I had mine 'professionally' serviced once before. Looks like the jerk glued the ends on mine back on. No amount of pulling on the stick would dislodge the top.

I advise that you don't try removing the top cover (step 3). Just slide the innards out with it on once you've removed the screws and the bottom cover. I say this because on the iPod I was working with the output jack was screwed in from the inside. Now I have a suped up mini that can't be listened to. :(

Excellent tutorial. My battery is down to holding just 15 mins of charge. So new battery on order from Amazon. I have several CF cards from my photography kit so I'll give that a go too.

Good instructable! I've done it a few times and the only thing I would add is that covering (e.g battery) cables with a piece of cellotape makes them slide in/out easier.

I just put a 64GB Dolgix CF card and a new battery in the old FireWire iPod mini (1:st gen, I think). Works perfectly, takes about 1-2min/GB to fill it with songs.

Bought the card here: http://www.amazon.com/Dolgix-64gb-Compact-Flash-Card/dp/B006OIH07I/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1356811012&sr=1-1

Hello I got this to work on a 2nd gen 4gb Ipod mini with a 64gb Transcend 400x CF. I had several issues to get this to work. What helped is using Transcend Autoformat program. Then I restored the ipod and after reboot it froze up so I disconnected the cable and rebooted the ipod and put it into disk mode and reconnected cable and Itunes started to sync the music. And it is working great know. Now I ordered a Dolgix 64gb Compact Flash from Amazon for $64.95 shipped.

I actually have upgraded a pink 2nd gen iPod with dead drive to a 32 Gig using a transcend 32gig CF card.

I actually found the iPod in the ditch while working in the field one day. it appeared someone tossed it out their window after it no longer functioned, due the the dead drive. After borrowing a power cord and a quick search of the error that was popping up. I figured out that the hard drive was bad. I found a site that similar to this one that explained how to replace the micro drive with a CF card. I happened to have a 1 gig laying around and tried it. The iPod worked great so a quick order on Newegg of a 32 gig CF card for $60 and a $12 power cord from radio shack and I was in business with a 30 gig iPod for only $72. Way cheaper than any 30 gig MP3 player on the market and it had no moving parts. Definitely couldn't complain.

3 replies

I just installed a 32GB card (transcend) - before putting it into the Mini, I confirmed it was a 32GB card in my computer - but now it only shows up as a 4GB card after I restored the device.

Can anyone offer any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!


you may have a generation 2 Ipod witch from what i have found out has issues with CF cards. mine was a gen 1.


Initially it only recognized 4GB of storage (and the rest was sitting in Unallocated). I resized the primary partition using Partition Wizard, restored the device a 2nd time through iTunes and it works!


I got everything working but the center button. I test it outside of the case and it works but when its inside it doesn't seem to properly make a connection to the main board. I'm just going to keep playing round with it if one knows how i should approach this problem.

Does this work with the 128GB CF card ??

I hear the adapter makes a difference .. what adapter would you recommend ??