5 March 2007, 22:55 by mark hoekstra

flash based iPod mini update, now up to 8GB!

click to enlarge

this is an update to:
How to turn your iPod into a flash based iPod.

and there’s a follow-up:
the iPod mini remastered, now with 16GB!

and there’s an addendum:
battery life on the flash based iPod minis

...and don’t forget to visit my other project:
put flash memory into (almost) ANY iPod! ^_^

The project where I change the microdrive in an iPod mini into Compact Flash has gained such an enormous interest and even though I explained, that in theory and as far as I can see, the storage capacity of the iPod mini can be enlarged up to 137GB (which will probably result in a 128GB Compact Flash card once they know how to produce those) this way, some people remain skeptical, probably because in the proof-of-concept I used a 4GB-card. There’s nothing wrong with being skeptical of course and I’m more than happy to show it again, this time with a card that sports twice the capacity!

At this moment cards bigger than 8GB are beyond my reach and I guess you could say it would hardly make sense at todays prices. That’s the reason you don’t see me doing this with 16GB or 32GB right now. So let’s do the same trickery as last week, shall we? Only this time with twice the capacity as last week and twice the capacity this 1G mini was sold with in the first place! (doubling the capacity in one week, Moore would be jeaulous! ^_^).

Even though I would be more than happy to show the same mod next week with 16GB (and 32GB the week after that), with current prices and no use for more CF-cards at this time, chances are very little that that will happen, but who knows? (I’ve seen stranger things happen) ^_^

click to enlarge

I acquired a 8GB card made by the same manufacturer as last week and the steps in installing this are exactly the same as I explained in detail earlier on. Because I followed the steps again myself, I thought I make some pics that I somehow missed out on last week.

click to enlarge

After you install the card and turn on your iPod, this is the screen you get. You will find no answers at the displayed url though. You will be better off if you connect this iPod to a Mac/PC with iTunes and hit restore (as explained in the previous proof-of-concept)

click to enlarge

After you restored the iPod with its original firmware, the display will show you this image, suggesting you hook up the iPod to a power adapter.

click to enlarge

At one point in history(...), I was found without an original power adapter and started thinking why this would be necessary in the first place. Connecting the iPod up with USB to my computer didn’t work so I figured it had to do something with the higher voltage firewire gives (12V instead of USBs 5V) and the update process would need this somehow. Well, I guess I was wrong, to my surprise an after market USB-charger does the job too! (something I referred to in the previous article as well)

click to enlarge

click to enlarge
btw, this picture is the 1337th one I uploaded to this site… How about that? ^_^

And here you have it again! an Ipod mini (1G) with 8GB flash memory, twice the original 4GB and with no moving parts! And even though I still could be wrong, I still can’t think of a reason why this wouldn’t work up to 128GB Compact Flash cards (the biggest logical capacity which will fit inside the 137GB maximum the Compact Flash standard states)...

Well, I hope this answered some questions which popped up in the comment thread of the original article. Even though I wish I could, I simply don’t have the time to answer each and every one of the questions. I hope this helps.

Good luck on everybody who tries this!

previous on this site:
How to turn your iPod into a flash based iPod

next on this site:
the iPod mini remastered, now with 16GB!
battery life on the flash based iPod minis

...and don’t forget to visit my other project:
put flash memory into (almost) ANY iPod! ^_^

Terms and Conditions of Use
Even though I give away all this info for free, I would like to point out that everything on this website is licensed through a Creative Commons License. It’s free for any non-commercial use, so anybody trying this out for themselves is something I’d like to encourage. Still, if you/your business would like to offer this information/modification on a commercial base, I would appreciate if you’d contact me first and I’m sure we can work something out. Don’t be evil ^_^

DIY trackback


  1. Eric @ 6 March 2007, 06:19 :

    I’m currently upgrading my mini with a 16GB CF. I wanted to get a 32GB CF to do this with, but I can’t seem to find one. Anyone wanna help me find a 32GB CF to upgrade my mini with?

  2. dbr @ 6 March 2007, 15:50 :

    Hm, I assume such a modification wouldn’t work on a ~4th generation regular iPod? (Which uses a “1.8 inch hard drives, ATA, 4200 rpm with proprietary connectors”)

  3. fab @ 7 March 2007, 13:09 :

    and What about the 1G Ipod (please, don’t laugh !!) ?

  4. MacGilles @ 7 March 2007, 16:04 :

    It works only with iPod Mini because the IDE 1” drive connector is the same than the Compact Flash Card.
    But for 1“8 drive you can buy an other bigger 1“8 drive to replace yours

  5. Britt @ 8 March 2007, 02:39 :

    I am still using my 1G iPod. I was an early adopter, and I have been wanting to get a new one, but when the one I have still works its hard to justify the cost.

  6. Russell @ 8 March 2007, 16:27 :

    Could you use the IDE 1 hdd as a CFC?!?!

  7. Mike @ 8 March 2007, 22:29 :

    I put a 2GB CF into my mini and tried to use the ipod updater to put the software on it, but it told me to use itunes 7 to update/restore the ipod. How do I go about doing this if itunes doesn’t recognize my ipod?

  8. Calbo @ 9 March 2007, 13:25 :

    Does this hack apply to all generations of mini? Mine has clickwheel labels of the same color as the case.. I see yours has different color (grey).

  9. ken @ 9 March 2007, 23:19 :

    does anyone know if cf II, has the same connectors as the 1.8” ipod hard drive? this adaptor on ebay seems to suggest it does, http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/IDE-to-1-8-Hard-Drive-iPod-CF-II-Adaptor-Adapter...

  10. markie @ 9 March 2007, 23:44 :

    Well, it surprises me its advertized that way. I compared pin-outs and couldn’t find any reason to believe that would work. I did however purchase a 4G iPod with a defective harddrive to investigate this more. (it’s being sent to me). There should be a possible way to connect flashmemory/CF inside a 4G iPod, but not directly, at this time with my current info, I don’t believe that is the case. But I’m on it! ;-)

  11. Wilin @ 10 March 2007, 10:50 :

    Just so you know, not every CF card will work in an ipod mini.

    Only the cards that have full ata compatibility will work (like the cards above (obviously) or the Sadisk Ultra II cards ).

  12. Gwen @ 10 March 2007, 18:20 :

    Fixed a faulty ipod purchased from ebay which was found to have a dead harddrive,the Peak card at £26 for a 4gb was cheaper than a replacement harddrive and works really well.It is real easy to connect !

  13. KableTree @ 10 March 2007, 20:14 :

    I have a busted mini, which I’ve dissasembled a few times…the hard drive and display are still in tact…does anyone know where I could get another circuit board?


  14. alex @ 10 March 2007, 22:24 :

    I picked up a second ipod hd connector for my 4th gen and removed pins, but I have yet to try it with a cf card as the battery is toast, I intend to install a very large lipo instead of the stock battery in the space saved.
    www.ipodmods.com has some good stuff

  15. Rob Barrie @ 11 March 2007, 01:14 :

    You can get 64GB CF cards:
    I’d love to see one of them in a iPod mini

  16. fstedie @ 11 March 2007, 09:43 :

    I got this to work with a 4GB Sandisk card on ONE of two ipods. I also tried a Kingston card but did not work on either.

    By the way, Sandisk is coming out with a Flash-based 1.8” SSD that in time should be the best way to update a full-size ipod!

  17. fstedie @ 11 March 2007, 09:45 :

    here’s the link to the Sandisk SSD...


  18. ToneDeaf @ 11 March 2007, 16:36 :

    QUOTE: I have a busted mini, which I’ve dissasembled a few times…the hard drive and display are still in tact…does anyone know where I could get another circuit board?

    PDASmart.com. That is where I got my replacement battery and I noticed they have replacement parts for everything iPod. You can literally build your own iPod mini, as well as other models.

    And that was a free shameless plug from a satisfied customer of PDASmart.com [end commercial]

  19. Jerry @ 14 March 2007, 15:56 :

    7day shop now selling 4gb CF cards for £15.99 + P&P. Have ordered one, will post results. Does anyone know whether 1g/2g iPod mini microdrives are different? will be trying this CF mod on both.

  20. atlantic.mac @ 15 March 2007, 00:23 :

    I tried with 4Go Compact Flash ultra II sandisk and it works.

  21. ToneDeaf @ 15 March 2007, 20:15 :

    QUOTE: Does anyone know whether 1g/2g iPod mini microdrives are different? will be trying this CF mod on both.

    Microdrives are microdrives. They are a standard CF Type 2 technology that is compatible with CF 1, which is what the CF cards are. However, if the Mini was designed for CF1, than the microdrives would never work in the first place.

    In conclusion: If you have the right card, it will work for both generations of mini. I recommend Sandisk for americans or PEAK for europeans, which is the brand the author here used.

  22. Syd @ 16 March 2007, 01:26 :

    I just installed a 8gb Sandisk Ultra II into my 2gen mini. And it works flawlessly!
    Also gave it that delicious black look, so that I can be as cool as those Nano-people ;)

  23. Maxime Rousseau @ 18 March 2007, 19:29 :

    Here’s another thing to consider: Compact Flash is the same as IDE, which leaves space for some further expansion, like wiring an IDE drive to a Mini. This would of course consume more power, spawning the need for an external power supply (even if a 2.5 inch drive is used), but I know lots of people who would give up pocket size for 100 GB of music storage.

  24. sander van der heide @ 18 March 2007, 23:49 :

    Does it matter wat speed to use? I found a cheap 45x CF. Will a 120x have improvements on writing and reading from the card?

  25. Herve @ 20 March 2007, 10:03 :

    Mark, Gwen and Syd:
    Can you please report on battery life improvement, if any?

  26. bert @ 21 March 2007, 08:37 :

    TEKQ Ultra CompactFlash Card 80X – It says Built-in ATA interface for easy Plug and Play interoperability. Made in Taiwan. Any good? Will it work? Thanks!

  27. albert @ 22 March 2007, 11:22 :

    I tried with Kingston Elite Pro 8GB CF card (formatted to FAT32) and it didn’t work! Should I try FAT16 formatting instead?

  28. Gwen @ 22 March 2007, 18:05 :

    Battery life with 4GB was up to 50% better than previously experienced.Since used a 8GB card Datawrite at £32 worked but not first go((www.Svp.co.uk)

  29. Brian @ 9 April 2007, 16:50 :

    ifixit.com also has both first and second gen ipod mini logic boards for sale.

  30. Drew @ 19 April 2007, 18:34 :

    i got a compact flash card for my first gen ipod and the compact flash card has more connector holes then the hard drive pins. does any one know which pins go into which holes ? appreciate your help thanks

  31. drew @ 19 April 2007, 19:25 :

    my email doesnt work sorry

    the ipod is a 1st generation click wheel and the CF card is a 512 MB san disk when i plug it in it gets real hot just wondering if u had the layout of the pins or any advice that could help me out thx.

  32. markie @ 19 April 2007, 23:02 :


    Uhm, what you’re trying doesn’t work…

    You might want to check out my other project for that:

    put flash memory into (almost) ANY iPod

  33. lordifan @ 3 May 2007, 10:30 :

    Tried a sandisk Ultra 2 1gb…can restore in itunes but failed to boot when requested to plug into wall socket. But works fine when put back original microdrive. No idea why…just can’t get it to work. Should I unistall itunes and reinstall it again and then restore ipod with the CF card inside as if first time using ipod?

  34. tim @ 5 May 2007, 18:17 :

    anyone tried this with the sandisk extreme III or IV cards yet?

  35. PK Chan @ 20 May 2007, 04:18 :

    Thank you so much for your instructions here, I have just upgraded my IPod mini to 8Gb using the Sandisk Ultra2, in the US the Sandisk can be purchase at Costco.com for US$123. You are fantastic, thanks again. PK.

  36. Charlie @ 14 June 2007, 17:16 :

    Just upgraded my 1st gen mini with an 8 gb Seagate drive I got on ebay for $45. Works great – thanks.

  37. Summer @ 21 July 2007, 00:54 :

    Excellent tutorial! Thanks for posting!

    Is there any reason a cheaper card would not work?

    For instance: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3179939&CatId=2411

  38. todger48 @ 21 July 2007, 10:45 :

    I followed the excellent instructions to fit an 8 GB Peak CF to my 2nd Gen iPod Mini but couldn’t get it to work. When I connect to my computer USB iTunes won’t register it. Connecting to the mains charger makes no difference. Using the iPod Updater returns an error message saying ‘incorrect firmware version’. I’ve tried reversing the CF in case I put it in wrong with no success. Any suggestions – apart from throw it away in disgust?

  39. Dominic @ 1 August 2007, 07:18 :

    @todger48, maybe you downloaded the wrong update version.

    For me, iTunes downloaded the update for me. However, I had some trouble getting the computer to read the CF in the iPod.

  40. Joe R @ 22 August 2007, 16:54 :

    I have tried for several weeks and finally had success!

    Toshiba 1GB, CF-1GTR, P820857X01
    Simple Tech 1GB, STI-CF/1GB, Type I
    multiple CFs under 1GB
    Lexar 2GB, Platinum II 80X, CF2GB-80-664
    Sandisk Ultra II 1GB, SDCFH-1024-901
    Sandisk Extreme III 2GB, SDCFX3-2048-901

    I have 3 or 4 2nd generation broken ipod minis from ebay and had a long path finding the right combination of good drive cable, motherboard, synch cable, pc. I’m glad Best Buy, RadioShack and OfficeMax have good return policies!

    It seems that iTunes needs to be able to connect to apple.com in order to work as well. My work computer could not perform the update since apple.com is blocked. My 2 home XP pcs could do the update. “iPod Updater”, several versions, reported an ‘ipod service error” and could not update. I guess the message is keep trying. Thanks to all who have contributed!

  41. Jerry @ 16 September 2007, 21:39 :

    4GB integralmemory.com card didn’t work. Tried it in several iPod mini’s. iTunes went through restore process and instructed me to plug into mains repeatedly, only to go through same process again.

  42. Joe Q @ 30 September 2007, 00:19 :

    So Joe R. Are you saying you buy broken ipods from ebay and then buy new ipods from Best Buy as part donors? Then put the busted crap in to the new ipods and return for a refund? You could end up in jail for that. Don’t think those stores couldn’t catch on to you. Not worth it man.

  43. the_slag @ 29 October 2007, 16:11 :

    Wow..thats kind of shady. I would be pissed, if i spend 350 bucks for a IPOD and found out some one mined parts out of it.

  44. bob brinias @ 10 November 2007, 23:16 :

    Pls send info.

  45. David @ 14 November 2007, 15:48 :

    Just did this project about a month ago with a SanDisk 8GB and worked like a charm. My 14 year old daughter LOVED me for resurrecting her dead pink 6 gig iPod with over 7.5 gigs of space! Thanks for posting this.

  46. Lisha Kayrooz @ 22 November 2007, 16:14 :

    I’ve done exactly as you said using an “Adata” 8Gb CF but although I’ve confirmed the CF is alive and well (plugged into a CF reader), the iPod Mini will not cooperate with the CF installed… neither OSX nor WinXP nor iTunes on either system will recognise it. Is there something I’ve overlooked?

  47. Steve @ 5 December 2007, 09:33 :

    For those of you who have had problems like I did let me say what I used to get it working (I now have a 16 GB flash mini!)

    First I set in motion a restore from itunes on the original 4 GB drive (got a cheap 1st gen on ebay)

    Not sure if this is needed but it is what I did…

    after I got the icon to plug it into a wall socket, I removed the 4 gb drive and plugged in the 16 GB one then plugged it into the wall.

    It retored and I finally gotr the folder error and the url… progress

    I still could not get it to sync however as it would continue to go itno a boot cylcle.

    So, what I did was lookedo nthe apple forums and found this wonderful tool:


    With this, I was able to format and initialize my ipod and then do a restore in itunes.

    worked liek a champ.

    I suggest this as part of the process form teh get go for us windows users.

  48. adam w @ 5 December 2007, 21:19 :

    Does it have to be the peak CF extreme or would the normal one be okay?

  49. Steve @ 6 December 2007, 03:51 :

    I used an a-data 6 GB card. This card seems to drop in price weekly on new egg

    Just make sure to use

    to get it working

  50. John Valler @ 10 December 2007, 15:13 :

    Just to tell:
    At iPod mini 2nd gen.
    8GB Memory Corp pro 133x CF

    That’s all from Denmark

  51. Ben from GER @ 11 December 2007, 21:46 :

    If this works with a Transcend CompactFlash Card Ultra133 8GB into a iPod Mini (2G) ?
    They cheap at the moment !
    So can you say me something about it ?

  52. stevenj @ 18 December 2007, 11:29 :

    @ Joe Q
    i think what Joe R meant was that he bought some broken ipods and some memory cards and when the memory cards didnt work he returned them.
    nothing illegal there… just possibly annoying the csr’s at bestbuy who have to process all the returns… and trust me theres a lot of paperwork for a simple friggin return

  53. DT @ 19 December 2007, 03:13 :

    Success Story:

    I just installed a 8gb Adata 60x in my 1st gen mini and it fired right up as advertised above. Worked perfectly first time.

    I did a battery check today, still using my original 3+ year old battery, running on shuffle all day long and it just konked out after 7 hrs 20 mins.


  54. Ben @ 27 January 2008, 16:54 :

    Thank you very much for this guide, I purchased an PEAK 8gb xtreme 120x, which works fine.
    Word of warning! It didn’t work at first when trying to restore it, but i realised this was because I had some ipod updaters installed on my computer that itunes had downloaded for my Nano. Once i deinstalled these, the mini was restored fine.
    Thanks again
    p.s Beware of windows!

  55. bayo @ 14 February 2008, 11:31 :

    please i need help on where i can get an ipod firmware upgrade online

  56. Paul @ 2 March 2008, 00:24 :

    This is awesome. I just got an A-DATA 8GB card off eBay for $43 including shipping. —Put it in my dead 4GB gen 2 mini, and connected to my computer. iTunes started and recognized that the iPod was in “recovery mode” and said I needed to restore. (iTunes ver, which I think is the latest.) I clicked restore, it restored the iPod and proceeded to download my music. The only minor hiccup was that my playlists were somewhat hosed. —Not sure why, but it was easy enough to fix. I just deleted them and recreated them. For 43 bucks, I now have a working iPod with 2x the memory and no hard drive to crash. BTW, I did not reformat the CF card before putting it in the iPod. Actually, I had no way to. My reader was old (and wouldn’t recognize it). Ditto for an old digital camera I had. But it works, so it’s a moot point. My only other word of caution is to be very careful with the connectors. I suggest using something like the plastic part of a bic pen cap (maybe cut down a bit) to get under the connector. Pry one side up a little, then the other side. Work back and forth a couple of times to get it to pop out. This is true for both the wheel connector on the bottom, and the connector to the hard drive. These look pretty easy to mess up.

    Thanks for the hack Mark. I’m a very happy camper!

  57. george @ 28 April 2008, 21:41 :

    would this work on a 4gb ipod mini?
    i want to upgrade to 8gb?

  58. allls @ 16 May 2008, 22:00 :

    pqi 120× 8gb work good on mini 1st but as 4gb
    hdd manager see 8gb, maybe try manual format…

  59. SB @ 18 June 2008, 16:07 :

    I just did this last night, and it went flawlessly. I very carefully opened up my iPod mini, and put in an A-Data 8G flash card and a new battery (which was my other priority).

    I can’t remember if I saw this tip here or somewhere else, but I used a guitar pick to help loosen the top and bottom covers on the iPod, and that worked great and didn’t scratch anything.

    Opening up the iPod was definitely a bit scary, but I took my time, never forced anythign, and referred back to this and other tutorials several times throughout the project. And now I have a fresh battery, twice the capacity, fewer moving parts, and lower power consumption!

    Thanks for the great guidance.

  60. bikeradam @ 24 June 2008, 19:05 :

    I got a Lexar 8GB Premium II (the 80x) one to work..

    Tried it in a 1st Gen mini and had no luck. Tried a 2nd Gen and worked first time..

    Think the first gen one might need updating though; reported being at 1.2v or something?..

    The 2nd one reported at 1.4 so it might be that.

    Trouble is; i cant get Rockbox to fire; says there is no partition?



  61. bikeradam @ 25 June 2008, 09:41 :

    I finally got it to work, i checked out the rockbox’s forum and got this:

    there is a link to update the firmware; or bootloader.

    Rockbox works fine. It took me ages to get this to work and im happy now. :D


  62. Tom @ 31 July 2008, 01:20 :

    I tried to use CF card in mine mini, but it’s not doing anything different. I first got the message with the folder and exclamation point, so I ordered the CF card and followed the instructions to install, very good, simple to follow, I had already done the battery. Well I still get the folder and exclamation point. I hooked it up to Itunes on my PC and hit restore, it tells me to disconnect and hook up to external source, however, I never get the picture on the IPOD itself showing this step, I simply keep getting the APPLE, then the folder with exclamation even after I disconnect and connect to the external. So it seems like nothing has happened at all….I’ve tried going into disk mode too and no difference, I never get the screen shot showing me to plug into and external source. It does say it in the Itunes pop-up message. I don’t know what else to do… Thanks for any help you can provide.

  63. Tom @ 6 August 2008, 02:17 :

    I figured out what my issue was from my July 31 entry, I took out the CF card, plugged it into my Card Reader on my PC and had to Format it first. Once I completed the Format process BINGO! I put it in my Mini and now I have an 8 GB IPOD!! Thank You for the insight to do this, you should add in the step about FORMATTING the CF card first. Thanks AGAIN!!

  64. Edgardo @ 24 October 2008, 15:16 :

    It is working with a TS8GCF133 8GB trascend.
    I connected the memory with the wronge pinout the first time, and (as expected) it did not work. I reopen it, inverted the memory, and it worked right away.
    The first time i was not able to force disk mode since the memory was inverted. The second time (inverting the memory) worked like a charmed.

    Excuse my english, im spanish.
    I also replaced the battery with a higher capacity one.

  65. ivan rea @ 2 November 2008, 17:18 :

    hi i was wondering if a peak 32gb card would work?? it is not a peak extreme type card so im not too sure. it is 50- quid on ebay. not too bad for 32gb
    i have also sanded and polished my mini. looks well cool with a mirror finish

  66. R3X KWON DOUGH @ 3 December 2008, 02:53 :

    Hi all, well I am excited to install the compact flash card into my failed mini pod, I am wondering: I’ve looked online here and there for a dealer of this product within Canada and can’t seem to locate one.. anyone have any suggestions, I’d rather make a purchase from a licensed dealer than an ebay dealer. Or anyone know of a dealer willing to ship the card to Canada? seems as the the U.K has the market cornered on Compact Flash Cards. BTW, i have a couple of ram chips left over from my macbook – from when I upgraded to 4 gigs. Wondering if anyone knows of a use for them? perhaps I could integrate them into my ipod min … hmm??

  67. Ralf @ 19 December 2008, 11:05 :

    Hi all and special lots thanks for this great site.

    @ivan rea: yes 32gb works fine + Rockbox 3.0 on ipod mini 2G :) I use a Hama speed pro 200x CF-Card: Don’t change the “removeable media” bit, no fixed.

    best regards

  68. junf @ 6 February 2009, 20:43 :

    Well, runs OK. If you’re linux users, it’s better to do this command before itunes recovery: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sd bs=512 count=1024

    that will make itunes detect “corrupt” ipod, and restores it automatically.

    BTW, 16 GB CF card, 120x runs OK on Ipod mini 1G.

  69. lexi @ 13 April 2009, 10:55 :

    hi, i would also like to try this memory bard thing, but i just want to know: if i do change my apple cf to a non-apple cf, would i still be able to use the itunes or do i have to resort to this ilinux thing? please email soon….thanks….

  70. SB @ 12 May 2009, 16:01 :

    You can still use iTunes. Everything works exactly the same as before, you just just have more memory.

  71. Pi @ 12 September 2010, 12:01 :


    Why do not use SD card with SD->CF adaptator ? Proof that exists : http://www.pearl.fr/cartes-memoire/lecteurs-de-cartes/adaptateurs/adaptateur-compactflash-sd_TG1160.html In fact we can found more SD cards and a 32gb is not very expensive…. Bye

  72. ryan mitton @ 14 September 2010, 20:46 :

    Has anybody had success with a 64 gb card? Does anybody know where i can buy a 64gb card?

    Every site i’ve been too has them sold out.

  73. ryan mitton @ 14 September 2010, 20:52 :

    also: @ #71 ..regarding the SD card adapter, HAS ANYBODY TRIED THIS AND GOT IT WORKING SUCCESSFULLY???


    here is a 64 gb card i want to buy, any luck with similar brand working in the ipod mini?

As mentioned in the Message from Mark's family this site has been made static. This means that it will be no longer possible to comment on his ideas and projects, but that we all can continue to cherish his creativity.

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