What to do with my out-of-warranty iPod with a HD failure.
December 10, 2004 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Looks like my out-of-warranty iPod had an HD failure. Any ideas what I can do with it? [details]

Other than turn it into a paperweight or a novelty item, that is. It freezes while playing certain songs or while transferring to/from via iTunes. I tried running scandisk on it, but it simply freezes at one point. I'm pretty sure it's a HD crash because I can hear the motor spinning as it desperately tries to read ahead and the unit heats up. I formatted it, reset it, updated the iPod software, etc. I finally managed to upload some 10 or 15 albums onto it, but only about 50-60% of them work now (it's a 20gig).

I ran scandisk once and it simply halfway. Is there a scandisk-type utility that'll mark the bad parts of the disk and let me use the rest? Is it cheaper to buy a new one than send it to Apple for out-of-warranty service? Are there any third-party companies that do iPod repairs that you know of? Am I totally SOL?
posted by ori to Technology (15 answers total)
Do you have a PC at home? Have any problems with the idea of opening the ipod up? Do you use an apple or a PC to copy the music to the player?

The reason I ask is because if you use a PC, then the Ipods hard disk is FAT32. FAT32 is compatible with Apple as well, but stick with me here:

Ever installed a hard drive before? Open your Ipod up, remove the disk, install it as a "slave" drive in your PC and use windows scandisk (or linux but thats not my forte'). Windows scandisk will mark the bad sectors. If all else fails, figure out how thick the drive is and buy a new one, and port the disk information to the new drive. Basically if you are good enough with a computer and comfortable opening things up it won't be very difficult. By the way, you need an adapter to plug a Laptop sized drive into a conventional IDE cable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipod will give you an idea of what the inside looks like and how to open it. Trust me, it's not hard to do. Once you get the drive out of the ipod and its sitting on your lap, plug the adapter into it and plug it into the cable running to your CD-ROM drive. Set it down gingerly in the case, and turn the computer on. Do not plug any other devices onto the same cable. (IDE supports two devices per cable. ipod drive needs to be plugged into the end of the cable.)

The computer will boot up. When windows loads, it will recognize the hard disk. If windows won't let you see it until you format it, your drive is not FAT32. Don't attempt to format the drive, the ipod won't work. If it recognizes the drive, perform a scandisk. Don't mess around with the structure of the data though. Leave it alone, use Itunes or what have you to remove albums or other data.

After all this, the computer will have probably recognized bad sectors. Take the disk out, move it to the ipod, play around.
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:34 PM on December 10, 2004

Before you try what Keyser suggested (which rocks cuz it's so hard core!) you ought to try going through the iPod's diagnostics mode and see if it can shake something loose.
posted by glyphlet at 7:44 PM on December 10, 2004

I'm just helping out glyphlet, not trying to make a statement.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:00 PM on December 10, 2004

I'm not disagreeing with you Keyser. In fact, I think what you suggested is completely freakin' awesome! Too many people are afraid to get inside their machines and mess around.

I prefer to try the easy options first. The diagnostic mode in the iPod has a scandisk option, but I don't know how good it is. It certainly can't hurt to see how this one does before popping the case open and installing the hard drive in the PC. That's all I'm sayin...
posted by glyphlet at 8:48 PM on December 10, 2004

The hard drives are not properly protected by the iPod;s casing, so you're probably right, and it's probably not repairable (two of mine have gone this way). Probably your best bet is to look for a replacement - there are plenty on ebay.
posted by cillit bang at 8:54 PM on December 10, 2004

  • Ever installed a hard drive before? Open your Ipod up, remove the disk, install it as a "slave" drive in your PC
  • IDE supports two devices per cable. ipod drive needs to be plugged into the end of the cable.

  • I could easily be mistaken, but don't these two statements conflict with each other? I thought the slave drive always had to be plugged into the middle plug on the IDE cable.
    posted by hootch at 10:08 PM on December 10, 2004

    hootch: You are correct, I noticed my mistake about 10 minutes after posting and kept my mouth shut. :)
    posted by Keyser Soze at 11:01 PM on December 10, 2004

    Wow! The diagnostic mode is fantastic. I'm running the HDD Test now, which will undoubtedly confirm what I already suspected about my iPod, which is that it's HD is hosed. I suspect this because it will not even boot into "disk mode" as described elsewhere, and will only display the "exclamation point" folder icon when booting normally. I am pretty disappointed about this, since I recently replaced the battery, and things were working great after that!

    However, I read (somewhere) recently, that replacing the battery often screws up the HD cable and that this part may need to be replaced as well. I guess a $15 cable is better than a $??? drive, or sending it to apple for the $99 (?) service, but it's still a pain in the ass. Also, from what I've seen, it's pretty easy to get 2 or 3G HD cables, but the 1G ones are relatively rare. Suggestions anyone?
    posted by idontlikewords at 12:06 AM on December 11, 2004

    port the disk information to the new drive

    how do you do that?
    posted by andrew cooke at 3:25 AM on December 11, 2004

    If you were in Europe, you could hassle Apple until they gave you a new one. Not sure what consumer law is like in Canada.
    posted by ascullion at 8:38 AM on December 11, 2004

    Off the top of my head, you could give Norton Ghost a shot. Connect both new drive and fucked drive (after a thorough scandisk) in the same computer system and have Norton Ghost copy the data contents of the bad drive onto the good drive. Any corrupted data would be transferred, but at least the good drive will work and not freeze up.

    You can make a laptop drive a slave too, which you may need to do for this trick.

    1. 2 (two) laptop drive adapters
    2. 1 (one) ATA-100 IDE cable
    3. the bad drive
    4. a new drive (it can be larger, look for the same spindle speed but its not critical, just slightly cheaper.)


    ________ I_________I

    0 is the good drive, 1 is the bad drive. Read the label on the good drive and it will tell you how to properly make it a slave. No, that does not mean paddles and leather, its actually a pin that connects two pieces of metal together that tells it to be one. And a naughty one at that. Anyways, back to what I was saying:

    This process is simple, relatively speaking. All you are asking the computer and software to do is copy everything from the ipod drive to a new disk, which does not matter to the computer if it is larger or smaller. In theory, you could install a 100gb drive to your ipod.

    Steal Norton ghost here and install it, copy everything, plug it in, presto.
    posted by Keyser Soze at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2004

    Oops forgot: run scandisk on the new drive after everything is done. You can copy the bad drives contents to a "middle man" hard drive if you only want to buy one adapter, same steps except you have a third hard drive hold the data, change out the bad drive for the new drive, and copy from the middle drive to the new drive. Refer to your warezed copy of ghost for details.
    posted by Keyser Soze at 1:42 PM on December 11, 2004

    And guess what? If I did the same work for a client I would have made $125.
    posted by Keyser Soze at 2:43 PM on December 11, 2004

    If you were in Europe, you could hassle Apple until they gave you a new one. Not sure what consumer law is like in Canada.

    Ascullion, can you explain this statement? I'm in Spain and I've been toying with the idea of buying an iPod or an iRiver. The iPod is appealing for its design but I've heard too many stories about dying batteries, freezes, etc. For the price, the iRiver seems like a safer bet.

    Unless of course the EU has a law allows customers to badger Macintosh until it replaces faulty iPods....?
    posted by sic at 4:00 PM on December 11, 2004

    European consumer law states that goods must be functional throughout their expected lifetime. If something happens to the goods, the retailer is liable. Far too few people realise this. So, effectively 'guarantees' are irrelevant in the EU - in that they limit the retailers liability, rather than extend it.

    For example, if you buy a washing machine, you'd expect it to have a lifespan of about 7 years at least. If, after five years, the seal on the door goes, you can go back to the original retailer and demand they repair it.

    I can't be bothered to search for the relevant legislation, but it's out there if you want to. I've had an iPod for two years now, and the headphones have broken twice - once in the guarantee period, and once out of it. I've gotten two free replacement pairs just by calling apple (I bought the iPod direct from them) and pointing out their liabilty.

    The problem with this it, what do you do if a retailer refuses? You can report them to Trading Standards, and eventually take them to the small claims court. Nothing's ever easy, obviously.

    For this reason, I would never buy expensive consumer goods in the USA, even though it's ridiculously cheap for us EUeans. You just don't get the same protection, so it's not worth it.
    posted by ascullion at 8:00 AM on December 12, 2004

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