Creative Zen Vision W Teardown

John P.

Zen W Ready for DisassemblyAfter my previous review of the Zen Vision W I had a reader Ask the Man the following question:


I just got myself a Zen W last X-mas. I think it’s fantastic as well. I bought the 30gb instead of the 60gb thinking I could probably upgrade the hard drive to a higher capacity eventually.

Do you think it’s possible or know what kind of hard disk format they have in those machines?

Thanks One Man!

No, thank YOU for the question! As far as the answer is concerned, there’s only one way to find out… crack that puppy open!


What you will need to open the device:

  • A Jeweler’s Phillips head screwdriver (you know… the really tiny ones).
  • The smallest tweezers you can find (the screws are really small)
  • Nerves of steel and hands like a surgeon (OK, maybe not those two)

What I discovered:

Travelstar C4K60The Creative Zen W utilizes a 1.8″ hard drive with the following specs:

  • The drive, made by Hitachi, is a 3.3 v, 1.8″ Travelstar C4K60 Slim.
  • The 30 GB drive is 5mm thick, the 60 GB drive is 8mm thick.
  • These drives use the ATA-7 interface and a Zero Insertion Force socket. ZIF is a rare interface used only on devices like this, so it’s difficult to work with.
  • The data buffer is 2MB, it spins at 4200 RPM and has average latency of 7.1 ms.
  • If you need a replacement or an upgrade you can search Froogle.
  • If you’ve got a 30 GB model you might consider upgrading to the 60GB Hitachi, or you might wait as this 100GB Toshiba should start production in Jan 2007.
  • If you’ve got the 60 GB version, there is no good upgrade path yet.

How to get at the Hard Drive

Step 1) Remove the battery.

Deep ScrewsStep 2) There are 6 screws that need to be removed underneath the battery. One is behind a tamper-resistant sticker which, if removed will void your warranty.

Removing LabelIn order not to void my own warranty for the purposes of this exploratory surgery I simply used a very sharp pocket knife to gently pry up the sticker so it would be replaceable.

CF SlotStep 3) Remove the Compact Flash slot screws.

Step 4) Gently pry the back cover off the device. This is the tricky part since you don’t want to break anything. Take your time!

ClipI discovered that the best way seems to be to start on the end with the compact flash slot and begin by squeezing the top of the device together a little to try to release the little plastic hook on the inside. Hopefully the image will make clear what you are trying to get at.

Prying OpenAfter releasing that hook there will be enough room to use a pocket knife or some other thin flat piece of metal to slip between the cracks and gently leverage the rest of the device apart.

HD Cover OffStep 5) Loosen (or remove) the four screws holding the hard drive cover on, then remove the cover.

HDStep 6) In order to remove the hard drive, peel back the tape covering the ZIF socket and gently unplug it.

Step 7) Take a beer break and admire what you’ve already accomplished!


Now that you’ve got it disassembled you can learn How to Upgrade to a Larger Drive.


  1. scroungebob says

    have upgraded to a 60gb har drive but it is 3mm to big and i can not get it to close properly?????
    did you have the same problem when you did this to youe zen??
    look forward to your reply
    many thanks

  2. Leo MurraY says

    HEY yo like a few comments here, I dropped my zen vision w, and it goes to recovery mode, however i am travelling at the moment and cant format and lose the music i have received while in south america. can anyone suggest a way to get the data off the hard drive so i can reformat and download new firmware?


    Leo Murray

  3. Katrina Teodosio says

    This happened to me too last night! I don’t know what to do. Now I downloaded the firmware and hopefully it will work. I have a 60GB memory and it’s almost FULL. I can’t risk losing all my movies and music cause I don’t have any back ups! Please help…

  4. T.C. says


    I’m running into problem disassembling my Zen W 30G. Two of the little screws seem to be stuck. I don’t want to keep trying to aviod stripping the screwhead any further than it has.

    Any suggestions?


  5. amby says

    i have a creatiive zen vision m it got tottaly out of charge when i was usin it now wen i plug it into tje laptop only the blue light flashes and nothing happens PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!!!!!!!!!!! AS FAST AS POSSIBLE

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