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.

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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!

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221 Discussions

Rocky Squirrel

2 months ago on Step 6

On the geektechnique.org
site, the 4th comment states that this only works on an iPod Mini 2nd
generation. Whereas in the “Ideally, you will need the following items” section
of this site, it implies that a 2nd generation is needed. Which is


4 years ago

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.

1 reply

4 months ago

Just completed the mod. Restore is TOTALLY impossible with a computer running Windows 7. Dont throw away the ipod mini. After weeks of frustrating efforts, I tried with an old computer running XP and iTune and it worked flawlessly.

1 reply

Reply 4 months ago

not sure what the problem you encountered was (iTunes maybe?), but I did this same mod some years ago with 2 iPod minis (2nd gen), Win-7, with absolutely no problems. My big concern now (I just pulled them back out after a few years of sitting in a drawer) is the latest iTunes. I hear it may not play nice with older iPods. Fortunately, I think I should still have an older version socked away...


2 years ago

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!

1 reply

Reply 8 months ago

Hi Eilermoon
I'm thinking of doing the same as you, ipod mini, new battery micro sdxc 128GB using a Micro sdxc Adapter.
However, I've run in to itunes saying that there is no ipod there. So have you found a way around it and restored it?


7 years ago on Introduction

Does this work with the 128GB CF card ??

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

1 reply

Reply 9 months ago

Hello nfemail
Did you find out if this works with a 128GB Compact flash card?
If you did it work?


3 years ago

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.)


4 years ago on Step 5

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!


5 years ago on Introduction

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.


6 years ago on Introduction

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


Any help gladly appreciated

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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


6 years ago on Introduction

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.)


6 years ago on Step 3

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!


6 years ago on Step 3

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.

frackin b

6 years ago on Step 3

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. :(


6 years ago on Step 6

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.


6 years ago on Introduction

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