Getting the pesky red CF-SD adapters working on older iPods. (For Windows)

This is one of those cases where I had two pieces of info that should theoretically work but it was missing a critical step, and googling for this brought up…not much. So while this advice has been repeated before, this is my attempt to at least make it more searchable. 

This is for those of us who decided to go cheap and buy the red CF-SD adapters rather than the green Digigear or the iFlash ones. If you’ve got the money, I still highly recommend those. But if you’re going it the cheap way, read on.

This is the adapter. If you have the dual-slot ones, those won’t work.

Usually what’ll happen with these adapters is you boot the iPod, it’ll throw the folder icon (good), go into disk mode (good), and want to be restored. However, when you restore…it’ll reboot right back to the folder icon (bad) instead of the power brick icon and want to be restored again. 

What this will do is hopefully break that cycle, so to speak. Now, I don’t know the technical info behind this so I can’t tell you why this happens, but I can tell you what you need to do.

Step 0: Getting to Grips with Victoria

Victoria is a hex editor that allows us to edit partition info and such on a given drive. It’s portable, so it doesn’t install. Just extract it and its files to a folder somewhere memorable and start it up with your looping iPod connected. We’re going to do a dry run just to get you familiar.

Under Drive Info, there should be a list on the right side. At the very end of it should be your iPod (for me it’s under Removable Apple iPod). Click on it to select it, then click Disk Editor at the top. You should now be here:


If you click the Open button along the right side, everything will populate. You’re going to want to pay close attention to this particular part in the very upper left hand corner:

Now, on my iPod, this looks normal.  However on an iPod stuck in a loop, the number in blue (or the lower 00 here) will usually read either 5A or EB. If that’s the case, we want this to be 00, as it is in the screenshots. You can go ahead and do that now (just to get yourself familiar with the flow) by clicking on the 5A/EB/whatever it is for you and typing 00. If you click save on the right, it’ll commit those changes to the iPod. However, this will change nothing at current, your iPod will still be stuck in a loop. Why?

Because we need to do this process–and quickly!–during a very crucial step in the restore process. We did all this so you know the motions of modifying the byte you need to modify and saving it because you’re going to have to do all this within the span of a few seconds in a bit.

Once you’re familiar enough with this (feel free to repeat it as many times as you need to, you won’t hurt the iPod), proceed.

Actually Performing the Restore

Once you’re acquainted with Victoria, go over to iTunes. It should still be complaining that something’s not quite right with the iPod, and begging you to restore. Before starting the restore process, make sure you have the iPod selected in Victoria, and make sure you’re on the Disk Editor tab. 

If you’re good, go ahead and start the restore process. iTunes may ask you to check for firmware updates, allow it. Once iTunes gets to the progress bar that says “Restoring iPod…”, go back to Victoria and begin mashing the Open button. This is where you need to be quick. At first Victoria won’t see much of anything because the iPod is currently being formatted, but eventually everything will populate, and you should see right there in that first row and column the problematic byte: 5A, EB, or whatever it may be when it needs to be 00.

What you need to do now is change that to 00 and save it to the iPod before the restore completes and the iPod reboots. If the iPod reboots before you’ve done this, you’ll need to try again. If you were successful, the iPod should hit the Apple logo for a few seconds before finally throwing up the prompt to plug it into a power brick to complete the restore. If you see that, you’re home free. Plug it in, it should finish, and you’ll be at the language select. Not today, red adapter!

But…it still doesn’t work!

Try checking the connections of everything and reseating it all. Unfortunately these red adapters aren’t exactly manufactured to the best standards so sometimes you can try your best and it’ll STILL fail. That’s why generally if you value your time and sanity I suggest buying something more consistent and known to work (like the Digigear/iFlash adapters).

I also recommend using some foam or tape to keep everything bound together because these adapters have no retention and if the SD card decides to back out on you (if the iPod is dropped, for example) it’ll act like a dead iPod.