Is one below freezing night enough to kill an iPod? How to bring it back?
December 11, 2005 4:50 PM   Subscribe

I think I froze my iPod to death. Is there anything I can do to revive it?

I've been leaving my iPod in my car (hooked to a charger adapter) every night for months now, but in the past week, the nights have gone just below freezing. Friday night was especially cold, perhaps 25 degrees F.

When I got in my car on Saturday morning there was still ice all over my car and the iPod was dead, as if the battery was zilch. I put it near a heater vent to warm up while I drove, and still nothing when hooked up to the charger adapter.

I've had it indoors now at ~70 degrees F for over 24 hours, and it's still dead, nothing on the screen. I hooked it up to my mac and it didn't revive itself either.

Before I head to an Apple store's genius bar, I'm wondering, is it toast? If so, does that seem normal? What do people in real winter areas do with their iPods at night?
posted by mathowie to Technology (11 answers total)
Best answer: For the video iPod, Apple specifies non-operating temperature as -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C), and I'm sure the other hard drive based iPods are similar.

Have you tried the reset procedure?
posted by trevyn at 4:55 PM on December 11, 2005

hopefully you didn't get any condensate into it. when I bring things like camera lenses in from the cold, I keep them in a Ziploc™ bag to warm slowly without the chance of the local atmosphere changing enough to get big drops of condensation forming.

try resetting it, google for instructions. if not, I hope there's a Genius (HA) Bar close since you may not be able to do much without diagnostics if a reset doesn't work. hope your Applecare is paid up!

when I was a cold climate person, I wouldn't leave hard drives in the cold overnight. that's pretty much it.
posted by kcm at 4:56 PM on December 11, 2005

Same thing happened to me all last winter as well as the other day. I let it sit and charge for a while in a nice warm place, and it was happy. Try rebooting it too.
posted by zerokey at 4:57 PM on December 11, 2005

I've had my iPod in a similar situation, though perhaps not as cold. I left it in my car overnight and had to wait a good two or three hours in my climate-controlled office for it to blink back to life.

Think back to those warnings you used to see on the back of 5.25" floppy disks. "If it's comfortable enough for you, then it's good enough for your disk," or something like that. Your iPod just needs to warm up, most likely. If it has been just sitting at room temperature, try swaddling the thing in a flannel shirt or something.

(Of course, if it is no better tomorrow morning ... go see the Geniusfolken.)
posted by grabbingsand at 4:58 PM on December 11, 2005

Stupid question: have you restarted it? Please don't be offended, but you didn't specifically mention trying to restart it.

Something similar happened to my third-gen 20-gig baby. It wouldn't turn on if I hit normal buttons, and didn't care if I plugged it into its cradle or charger.

Then I took my head out of my ass, and restarted it by holding down the << and >> at the same time for awhile, and we returned to living together happily ever after.

I live in a cold climate, and the iPod comes in every night, baby. It sleeps where I do.
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:03 PM on December 11, 2005

I froze my ipod when it was in my front pocket of my motorcycle jacket riding in sub-freezing temperatures. Leave it on a charger for several hours (possibly as much as 24 hours if the battery's completely drained), and do the reset.
posted by cactus at 5:30 PM on December 11, 2005

If it has been just sitting at room temperature, try swaddling the thing in a flannel shirt or something.

Nitpick: this wouldn't work to increase the temperature of the iPod, since it's not generating heat.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:43 PM on December 11, 2005

Cold temperature is hard on batteries. If your battery was borderline, leaving it out overnight might have sent the battery into a very deep discharge.

Have you tried letting it charge inside overnight?
posted by teece at 6:49 PM on December 11, 2005

Response by poster: I tried restarting it this morning, but trying again just now brought it back to life. So it appeared to need a bit more than 24 hours to warm up.
posted by mathowie at 7:21 PM on December 11, 2005

While you've already marked a best answer, I feel it's important to add something:

The iPod and any other electronic device can likely survive ridiculously low temperatures. However, there's something REALLY important to remember here:

Because it has moving parts (hard drive), you do not want to attempt to operate it while it's still in the process of warming up. If you're operating the moving parts at the low end of its operating temperature or below - that's bad for the hardware and could kill it.

So next time Poddy goes into a deep freeze - I would recommend not trying to start it at all until you're really, really sure it's warmed up and avoid the possibility of getting those parts moving when they really shouldn't be.
posted by twiggy at 9:30 PM on December 11, 2005

Response by poster: I've heard that maybe at low temps the battery is the real weak point, and even a fully charged battery can read as dead when the temps get low enough, which is why iPods might go into a dead-like mode where they act like there's no power at all.
posted by mathowie at 9:33 PM on December 11, 2005

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