Hello... hello... hello... is there anybody IN there? (iPod)
August 31, 2008 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have experience with major iPod repairs? (Probably a busted disk)

My iPod crapped out last week in an unusual way. I already have a number of online places that say they will do repairs, so I'm not looking for advice on that score. I'm wondering if others have seen a case like mine and if my diagnosis sounds plausible to others.

The iPod is about four years old, one of the pre-video 40GB units. (That alone makes me pessimistic for reapirs.) It has no issues related to power at this point. I had left it on pause for some time before switching it back to play and running through a whole album. When it finished the album, I switched it back to shuffle and it began running through the entire directory, showing each song title in succession, but not playing any of them. Imagine seeing each title for about a half-second but never actually playing anything. After restart, the Apple logo appears, but startup never proceeds.

My read on this is that it seems like a failure to read its disk. It had the software (and perhaps the directory?) buffered when the drive failed, couldn't access the actual data, then when it was restarted it couldn't even access its own software. That's a non-engineer's guess, though. Has anyone seen similar things, and if so was it worth the repairs or would it be better to simply buy a new one? As I said, I'm not optimistic.
posted by el_lupino to Technology (9 answers total)
I had no problem getting mine replaced. But of course the warranty had not expired.
posted by Baud at 10:25 AM on August 31, 2008

Generally it's cheaper to just replace it. But some things you can try first:

* Get your iPod to run a disk scan and repair.

* Connect your iPod to your Mac and run Disk Utility. Use to disk utility to check for repair errors.

* Re-initialise the software on your iPod.

At 4 years, it wouldn't be extraordinary if the disk had just failed. But these things are quick, simple and worth a try.
posted by outlier at 10:57 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also had this same issue with a 40gb 4th Gen iPod, and amazingly, I found a fix that has kept it working for almost 18 months afterwards.

Business Card Fix

I was VERY sceptical when I read this, and didn't think it had a chance of working, but I tried it as I had nothing to lose (I already had another iPod anyway).

Amazingly, it worked. It's because the case becomes slightly bent due to the heat of the hard drive and inner-workings of the iPod, and as such, the disk can move around. Inserting the business card seems to stop this from happening.

Give it a go!
posted by mdavis1982 at 11:41 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it is a hard drive problem... well the hard drives are still made, so parts won't be a problem. With one that old however there is a good chance of getting something refurbished. If it's just a hard drive failure you could do it yourself.

I don't know the innards of the iPod well enough to help with your diagnosis. But if it's not reading the hard drive it could be the hard drive, the controller, the cabling or connections between them, or the OS forgot how to talk to the hard drive. What happens when you dock it? Does it show up as a hard drive? Did you try a hard reset? A factory reset?

If you take your old and busted iPod to an Apple store they'll give you 10% off the price of a new one.
posted by Ookseer at 1:01 PM on August 31, 2008

I kept a pre video generation ipod with the same symptoms as yours going for another year and a half after first getting the problem by doing the following;

1st try plugging your ipod into it's power supply (not the USB power from your computer but the wall supply), then do a hard restart (togglke the lock on and off then hold down menu and the centre button until the ipod resets. Either it'll come back good to go or give you a sad ipod icon on the screen or the disk failure icon.

If it's not good to go, bang each of its 4 corners against your desk or other immovable object and retry the first step. (I'm not kidding, this often works to reseat stuff)

If it's still not good to go, then pop it open using the instructions here. Once it's open then make sure all of the ribbon connectors are firmly seated where they should be and close it up carefully and go back to step one.

My ipod is now retired to being a portable hard drive media holder for a Phillips Divx player as the internal connections are now too fragile for general knockabout Ipod pocket life but it's still being useful.
posted by merocet at 1:01 PM on August 31, 2008

Response by poster: Business Card Fix

While I managed to implement the fix, it doesn't seem to be having any positive effect. outlier's suggestions were all sound, too, but it's still not even at a point where the disk can be accessed, either from my desktop or from the iPod itself. Thanks for the suggestions, though.
posted by el_lupino at 1:12 PM on August 31, 2008

it's still not even at a point where the disk can be accessed, either from my desktop or from the iPod itself.

The fact that it won't even do the self-scan indicates some serious problems. Even if you resurrect it, it will probably be on its last legs. Hard drives wear out, it's just a fact of life. Looks like it might be time for a new iPod.
posted by outlier at 2:55 PM on August 31, 2008

Honestly get in there and reseat the cables. It's a known issue with this generation of ipods that the cable connectors are flakey. I'd say it was wayy too early to be considering spending money on a new one.
posted by merocet at 4:26 PM on August 31, 2008

My wife replaced the LCD in her video ipod a few months ago, which involved dismantling all the thing's guts and then putting it all back together. That kit was only like $20. I don't know if you can buy a replacement hard drive but I definitely know you can disassemble your ipod quite easily without destroying it.
posted by billtron at 9:30 PM on August 31, 2008

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