Convert Your 5th Gen IPod Video to Use Flash Memory!




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...

You may have seen my other Instructables on how to convert your iPod Mini and 4G iPods to use CF and wondered if you could do the same with the iPod Video. Well you can!

Note: Some of the instructions are very similar (if not the same) as the other iPods so don't be surprised if I repeat myself...

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.

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

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Step 1: 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. Finding the adapter has been the most difficult part of this procedure.

Although you can get adapters for the 4G iPod cheap on eBay, Tarkan Akdam is in my opinion the only person in the world selling a reliable adapter for the 5th Gen iPod Video. Get yours HERE. Don't come crying to me if you use some cheap Taiwanese adapter and burn up your iPod!

2) iPod-Opening tools (non-marking plastic tools and/or flathead screwdriver). Tarkan will ship you a set of these with your purchase.

3) You will also need some hot melt glue or double sided foam tape.

4) 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 $60 as of this writing. I've had good luck with Transcend and Sandisk. Check the specs, not all cards will work.

5) Oh yeah, make sure you start off with a fully functioning iPod! Don't assume that the broken unit you bought from eBay simply has a bad drive.

Step 2: Open Your IPod

There are literally thousands of DIY guides and tutorials on how to properly open up your iPod, so I won't go into it here. I will assume that if you're actually willing to do this hack to your iPod you already know or can easily figure out how to open it up. Needless to say, the iPod video is a little harder to open than the 4G imo. So, flip the switch to hold, take your time and don't break it!

I do have to warn you that if you have not opened a 5G unit before, don't just pull it apart after you crack the case open. The battery is connected via a ribbon cable on the lower right corner (ipod face down). Use a small screwdriver or some other tool to pull up on the connector to free up the cable. I made my own tool to do this as I feel it places less stress on the connector.

Step 3: Prep the Flash Card and Adapter

Lay your adapter flat on the table and plug in your CF card. Make sure it is seated fully and no pins are bent.

The adapter is designed to fit perfectly into the iPod's frame so there is no need for any additional glue or tape to hold it in place but it is up to you.

Step 4: Remove Hard Drive & Install CF Card

Be careful here, don't just yank out the old hard drive!

Remove the two rubber bumpers, toss them.

Carefully fold back the drive as shown. Next, remove the drive by flipping up the locking tab on the drive's ZIF connector and separating the drive from the cable.

Drop in the adapter/card assembly into the iPod and insert the ribbon cable into the adapter's ZIF connector. Once the ribbon cable is fully seated, use even force across the whole locking bar to snap it into place. Don't just push on the middle or you might break it!

Step 5: Test the IPod's Functionality and Restore

Reconnect the battery and carefully put the iPod pieces back together but don't snap closed just yet.

Plug your iPod into the PC using the dock connector. If iTunes does not automatically open up, do so now.

At this time, iTunes should recognize your iPod and will give you the option to restore the iPod to its original settings. The sequence of events will be roughly as shown in the pics.

Once the restore process is complete, your iPod will display a message telling you that the unit has been restored and should appear on your iTunes device list.

Load a couple of songs and test it.

If all is OK, snap the iPod closed and enjoy!

Step 6: Before and After

Some of the differences between the old HD unit and my new flash version:

iPod now weighs approx 20% less!

iPod is now much more rugged and will no longer suffer from shock-induced hard drive failure.

Now go and make yourself a Custom iPod Boombox and visit!

Thanks to Tarkan Akdamfor his support and advice in the making of this Instructable.

Check out my other instructables for more iPod hacks.

1 Person Made This Project!


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71 Discussions


Question 1 year ago

I willing to pay for some to swap out the drive for me - is there company or person who does the swap?


2 years ago

This is a great instructable, but I would prefer to use an SSD due to the 3-6Gb/s ... seems more legit to me. I think they make an SATA to ZIF connector too... going to go that route ; but thanks for all the information


Reply 2 years ago

Memory based stuff IS better than a HDD. Too many moving parts, more energy consumption / less battery time and read/write rates aren't that great.


Reply 2 years ago

Void your warranty on a device which only comes with a 1 year limited warranty? I know this post is old, but your comment was invalid then as it is today.


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

if you still own one of those it probably doesnt have a warranty. and plus its made by apple so the only way it will break is if you physicaly damage it


3 years ago

4th gen ipod photo, 60gb HD. I got the CF adaptor, the whole process was a roaring success, CF comes up as drive on disk utilities, re-formatted it as Mac OS journaled, iTunes recognised it, acknowledged the 4gb card, I put music on it, disconnected as normal.

The ipod now doesn't boot up - there's the apple logo for about two seconds and it goes straight to the error screen with the apple support url. So it's now a very good storage device but won't play anything.

I reset by disconnecting and re-connecting the battery then doing the whole menu+select routine, then did a restore from within iTunes, all successful as far as iTunes reckons, the thing still loads up with music... but once disconnected the unit still won't boot up. Still works perfectly with the original HD, so at least so far I haven't wrecked it!

Any ideas as to how I might get it to boot up with the CF card installed? Don't wanna buy a 128gb card till I reckon it's likely to work. I realise this thread is getting on a bit so I may be typing into the void...


5 years ago

took a while for iTunes to find it, after that brief panic it was all simple. great instructable

3 replies

Reply 4 years ago

Today I found my iPod (5th gen video) stopped working, the "I'm broken, go to the apple website" message. Opening it up I found my cf card had come loose. Strange given how stiff that connector is, but I guess my general goings on over six months and the approximate 7mm gap between the cf card and the battery, previously filled by the hdd, caused this. I want to fill this space, has anyone come up with a neat trick? All that springs to my mind is shoving a bit of cardboard in there


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I had the same problem - solved it with a bit of gaffer tape (less sticky than duct tape, so can remove it later) to hold the CF card to the adapter and a some gaffer tape folder up underneath to pad it.


5 years ago on Introduction

One of the biggest complaints about the iPhone and iPod touch since their inception has been their inability to play Flash videos.but now every one can watch vedio on iPhone, iPad & iPodTouch .

Apple doesn’t and probably won’t even support Adobe’s Flash plugin
because Apple charges that Flash uses up computing and battery resources
too quickly and that it’s unstable, which leads it to cause computer
crashes which Apple doesn’t want as a part of the iPhone experience.


5 years ago on Introduction

Has anyone came across an issue where songs on the ipod skip as if they arent there when this mod is done? I have tried 2 different memory cards and find that when listening to music, after a song finishes there will be silence and when I check the ipod, it still says it is playing but skips over songs as if it has no data for it before finding one and playing.

I've tried restoring a few times to no avail. Any ideas?


6 years ago on Step 5

Hi, I did this modification on my iPod Video a year ago. But every time I turn it on I get the "Connect to your computer. Use iTunes to restore" screen. After few seconds I can turn it on again and the iPod works great all day. On next day, I have to do all the process again. It resets all music that played before.
Is that a way to create a backup system to maintein the flash card aways on?

Well I tried the kingspec 128gb KSD-ZF18.6-XXXMS or KSD-ZF18.6-128MS that I got on Ebay for $133 in a 60gb 5th gen not 5.5 and it did not work. I could get it to restore and show 117gb in iTunes but when I tried to copy music to the IPod I was getting could not read or write errors so I purchased a 120gb 6th gen IPod from eBay with a bad hard drive and I worked perfectly. Know I ordered a CF to Zif adapter, going to try that on the 5th gen to see if that will work. I have been trying a Transcend CF 64gb and 32gb on a 4gb 2nd gen IPod mini and that is not working so I ordered a 1st gen mini and waiting for that. I have read that the Dolgix 64gb Compact Flash is working with the IPod™s and it is $59 at Amazon. So if I can get either IPod to work with a cf I will be returning the Transcend because they are twice the price of Dolgix 64gb cf. I will post any updates when I receive the shipments. Thanks for the great info.


7 years ago on Introduction

I completed this mod, everything looked great. all back together, plugs it in flips it back on windows sees it and formats the drive, itunes comes up and wants to restore I restore it goes the cycle and returns to 'requires restore' windows sees 32G but itunes and the ipod utility do not recognize the drive. I can store to it from windows. miffed and confused.....any help?


7 years ago on Introduction

I've done this mod before, both on a iPod Mini and on a classic iPod (20GB) and now I'm trying to do so on my iPod Video (5th gen). After switching out the HDD with an adapter and a CF card, the ipod still wouldn't work. After reseting it close to 15 times, I got the iPod to work (with the new CF card). I restored it, itunes was easily finding the iPod when connected, and I was able to transfer and play songs just fine, but the second I closed the case back up the the iPod froze and needed to be restored again. I got it working another three times and again, everytime I closed the iPod it would break again. I've messed with the cables, done diagnostics, and pretty much everything I can think of. Any ideas on why this mod wouldn't be working?