The reset and the restore, they do nothing.
March 8, 2011 5:02 AM   Subscribe

Is there an archive of old firmware for iPods? I have a 30GB 5th gen iPod - songs often skip, the device freezes, and audible excessive spinning is causing major battery drain. Reset and restore are useless, and I am thinking it is maybe a quirk of the latest firmware.

I have formatted, reset, restored, and checked for updates over and over again but nothing I do seems to be able to return my 5th generation iPod back to normal working order.

I am pretty sure that there are a lot of bad sectors on the drive, and that this is the cause of the excessive spinning and song skipping --- but shouldn't good firmware be able to handle this situation properly? Some online research suggests to me that reverting from firmware 1.3 back to 1.2.x might be able to help, but I have been unable to locate an online archive of older firmware.

So, askme, I am asking either for a link to some old firmware, or any kind of other helpful advice or suggestions on how to get more life out of my iPod. Thanks!
posted by molecicco to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
 
Yeah, your hard drive is going. Mobile device + moving hard drive platter = inevitable death. If you're not up for replacing it entirely, you can get a new 30 gig drive for $75 and
replace it yourself easily enough.
posted by Oktober at 5:06 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


that's a great link, thanks Oktober
posted by molecicco at 5:19 AM on March 8, 2011


There's always Rockbox. Might be worth a try?
posted by Fezzer at 5:21 AM on March 8, 2011


iFixit.com has a good guide for hard drive replacement. I have no affiliation with their site, but it looks like they sell a replacement hard drive for a little less.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:27 AM on March 8, 2011


cool, i will try rockbox. even if the harddrive is dying, i would think that good firmware should just recognize and avoid the bad sectors, even reducing the total available memory to ensure decent playback. hopefully rockbox can do that! unless i am mistaken and firmware has nothing to do with it?
posted by molecicco at 5:43 AM on March 8, 2011


ATA drives like this one have integrated controllers that handle retrying failed reads and then silently remapping bad sectors to those in a hidden reserved section of the disk, such that software never sees an error code unless it's an unrecoverable read/write error. So yes, it's certainly possible that when the software (or firmware in this case) tries to read from a damaged sector, the result is the drive churning away for a good while but eventually returning a successful read status, which would mean that the software has no control over the behavior (other than perhaps the ability to recognize that a read command is taking forever.)
posted by Rhomboid at 5:55 AM on March 8, 2011


very interesting -- and is there any chance to access/update or change that controller? or is it time to make a replacement then?
posted by molecicco at 6:09 AM on March 8, 2011


You could pull out the hard drive, and if the hard drive manufacturer has a firmware updater, plug it into a PC and run the updater. An updated HD firmware might have better remapping routines, but you might run the risk of the updated drive no longer working with the iPod firmware.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:23 AM on March 8, 2011


I'm a relentless advocate of upgrading that model of iPod with a new hard drive (and other spare parts from the millions of discarded gen 5 iPods) and of using Rockbox. It's great to be able to manage your iPod by drag and drop instead of through iTunes. It may boggle your mind at first if you are used to the Apple Way, but you will be rewarded by the power of Rockbox to make your device work the way YOU want it to.
posted by quarterframer at 6:34 AM on March 8, 2011


very interesting -- and is there any chance to access/update or change that controller? or is it time to make a replacement then?

No. The controller is almost certainly fine, although your drive is indeed failing. The controller is simply telling the iPod "Hold On! Hold On! Everything is okay! Just give me a minute here!" while it thrashes away at the failing drive, until the failing drive finally manages to read from a bad sector.

Because bad sectors are generally a fact of life with hard drives, a modern controller will mark that sector as 'bad' and move the data to a new place, without the iPod/computer ever knowing about it. Unfortunately, if you've got a disk problem that's creating thousands of bad sectors, this remapping process (at best) just buys you a bit of extra time (and false security) before the drive fails completely.

Modern controllers in PCs keep count of how many bad sectors that they've remapped, and can send a message to the PC saying "Hold on. Something is very wrong here. You need to replace that drive before you lose all of your data," although the one in the iPod isn't quite so advanced.

Did I mention that it's fairly easy and cheap to replace an iPod hard drive?
posted by schmod at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2011


This appears to be a collection of firmware for all iOS devices.
posted by chazlarson at 9:00 AM on March 8, 2011


ok schmod, you have won me over to the replacement hard drive route. now the question is whether i can find one in berlin, or will have to pay 1/3 the price for shipping from the US.
posted by molecicco at 12:18 PM on March 8, 2011


ok schmod, you have won me over to the replacement hard drive route. now the question is whether i can find one in berlin, or will have to pay 1/3 the price for shipping from the US.

!

Mmm. Fesplatte.
posted by schmod at 1:37 PM on March 14, 2011


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