David Artiss

Ford Sync USB devices


For those with recent models of Ford cars you may have the SYNC in-car system. This includes a USB port for playing music stored on a compatible device.

However, there have been a lot of queries about the maximum capacity of the USB devices that you can attach. Many believe it is 32GB but this is based on the fact that SYNC only works with FAT32 devices and Windows won’t format in FAT when greater than 32GB.

The simple solution is to use software, such as FAT 32 Formatter , which will format a drive to FAT32, whatever its size.

I’ve read of people using 320GB hard drives. However, these are slow to index. I’m using a 64GB memory stick and, although quick, there are too many tracks for the voice recognition to work with it (something Samantha 1 reminds me of everytime I start the car up. Sometimes twice). Also, many hard drives will require more power than a single USB connection can provide. So, it’s possible, but just be aware of the limitation of using such high storage capacities.

I’m also using a USB 3 memory stick – although SYNC is only compatible with USB 2, USB 3 is backwards compatible and does work fine.

  1. that’s the name of the female voice that SYNC uses, if you didn’t know[]

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17 Comments

  1. Hi David, I’m not sure if you’ll be able to answer my question but I have a 2011 Focus Titanium with the USB port in the glove box (dash looks identical to the picture in this article). I experimented yesterday and left my phone plugged in and it carried on charging even with all the electrics switched off – is there a way if stopping this? (in my old Peugeot, you could move a fuse one slot to the, say, left which meant the 12V socket only powered hen the car elecs were on rather than being powered all the time). My worry is that if I leave an old iPod plugged in permanently it will gradually drain the battery? Perhaps using a USB stick would be better … unless it overheats from constantly being supplied with power?

  2. David Artiss

    3rd August 2014 — 3:47 pm

    I’m not aware to stop it but I don’t think the amount of power it would be supplying would be enough to drain your battery – after all, once it’s full it’s going to only trickle-charge to keep it topped up. But, if you’re worried I’d recommend the USB option.

  3. I believe it only continues to charge through the USB for a few minutes after locking the car so shouldn’t drain your battery.

  4. So, I just purchased a 2011 Fusion Hybrid with SYNC (very low miles, like new – I got lucky!). I am considering purchasing the NEW SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 in a 128 GB capacity. So, I’d like to know – 1. Will USB 3.0 work in the SYNC USB port? 2. If yes, supposedly, this 3.0 is REALLY fast. At 128 GB, might it (or will it) work smoothly – meaning, voice recognition, indexing, etc. Ideally, I’d love to put ALL my music on ONE USB. This seems like a good option, but at nearly $80 for that size, I want a pretty good idea that it’s going to work. I don’t plan on doing any folder setup or playlists, etc. I’m planning to play one artist at a time or choose one track at a time – or play all random. I’m new to all of this. Although I’m somewhat technically more savvy than the random person, the USB car-compatible audio technology is all new to me. Suggestions? Advice? Thanks in advance!!

    • David Artiss

      25th July 2015 — 12:24 am

      USB 3 is backwards compatible but the connection in the car is not USB 3 so you won’t benefit from the speed. I use USB 3, though, simply because the connection to your PC (assuming it’s USB 3) to update it will be faster. Whether it will work or not is a different question – I’ve only tried up to 32GB, so I can’t guarantee it. The other issue is that SYNC has a maximum number of tracks it will index for voice purposes – you can access everything via your menu but voice sadly won’t work. I don’t know what the limit is but my 32GB is enough to break it. Annoyingly still EVERYTIME I set off in the car, SYNC warns me vocally that they’re not available for voice command. Every. Single. Time.

      • Thank you for this response. I may just choose to accept my music will have to be put on multiple, smaller drives – especially if I want the voice recognition to work. This many weeks since my post, I’m still going through the grueling process of ripping my CDs, as I never had a need to before.

  5. Hi I have got a Ford Focus Zetec 55 plate and can’t find a usb connection but on the right of the steering wheel in the little shelflike compartment there is a connection but it looks a it like a scartleed please let me no what this is ASAP if you no thanks?

  6. Dario, that is a OBD port for car ecu diagnostic equipment interface.

  7. Hi, not sure if this is related, but I have several albums on my memory stick, I have put them in folders, named the folders and numbered them I’ve also numbered the tracks inside the folders, but, there’s always a but, whenever I want to play them they come up in alphabetical order. Can I change this, I would like them to play in the correct order

  8. My USB port on my focus 2013 has stop playing music from my iPod just come up indexing music but will play throw Bluetooth

  9. I been having the issue with no matter what I plug into the usb it will initializing then say not compatible device and not work. I even went and bought a new ipod and it still won’t work. Anyone run into this problem and have a fix for this?

    • I’ve been experiencing the same issue. I’ve tried several different USB thumb drives and the system will index the drives and will play a couple of songs but then gives error message that media is not compatible.

    • Chad: I had a similar problem and it turned out that SYNC only recognises certain file types. If you have anything else on the usb stick then SYNC throws a wobbly and claims the whole thing is incompatible. MP3 is safe: I don’t know what else is. But if you just use MP3 files (ie no folders, no non-MP3 files) then you ought to be okay.

      • I can confirm that file type .m4a also works. That’s all I have on my 128gb Kingston thunb drive. Also, it’s true that Sync will recognize music if it is in only one folder, but this only works if you don’t have a lot of music on your device. If you have a lot of music, then you will need to put it in folders, for example, by Artist’s name, otherwise when you plug in the USB drive, it will take forever to index the music. If it doesn’t finish indexing the music before the car shuts off, it will the start re-indexing all over again the next time you start your car. For example, my thumb drive has about 21,300 m4a songs on it. On my way back from Florida to Canada, I drove for a solid 12 hours, never shutting the car off, even when stopping for gas or food, and yet Sync never finished fully indexing the thumb drive. It only got about 16,800 songs indexed before I had to call it a day. The next day when I hit the road again, you guessed it, it started indexing all over, starting at song 1. So the way to get around that is to put your music in separate folders. Then it will successfully index your thumb drive in at worst 10 to 15 minutes.

  10. I have been using a 128gb Kingston thumb drive in my 2013 Lincoln for over a year. It had about 100gb of music on it (about 25,000 songs), but SYNC would only recognize about 22,000 songs. I was OK with that. Then I recently reformatted the thumb drive and reloaded my entire itunes library again because I had added new songs and deleted some crappy songs. I still have about 25,000 songs on the thumb drive, but now SYNC only recognizes 14,000 songs. The thumb drive is and was always formatted exFAT. So why is SYNC now only recognizing only 14,000 songs instead of 22,000 like it used to. Also, what’s really weird is that I browsed through the SYNC menu to view the folders on my thumb drive, and it matched what was actually on the thumb drive until it got midway through the “B”s (my music folders are in alphabetical order). Then it skipped right past the “C”s and “D”s, and picked up again midway through the “E”s (at Elton John, in fact). In short, it skipped by about 97 folders. Any ideas out there?

  11. hi, i have a 14 plate Kuga, and is now saying USB not connected, it was working fine went in for service and now doesnt. any ideas, its so frustrating. many thanks

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