My Experience: Replacing My iPod’s Hard Drive

Like many people, I own an iPod. A few weeks ago, my two-year-old iPod broke down, and this is an article about my attempts to fix my iPod. It was fairly clear from the beginning that the problem was hard drive related, but I tried some “alternative therapy” before replacing the hard drive myself. Read on to see if I successfully fixed my iPod or have I failed miserably in the attempt.

I bought my iPod in the summer before I entered university. It is a 20GB colour screen model that can view photos but not videos. I have used it for two years without any problems, but a few months ago it finally succumbed to my abuse and gave me the sad iPod face screen. Resetting my iPod didn’t help and the computer couldn’t access the hard drive, so I was pretty sure that the problem has something to do with the hard disk. iPods, especially the hard drive ones, aren’t exactly known for there longevity, so the problem wasn’t too surprising. Now I just have to find a way to fix the problem.

At that time, my iPod’s warranty was long gone and there was also no point bringing it to a store for repair, since it would cost around the same to get a new iPod. The only option is to look online and see if I can fix it myself. It didn’t take long before I found this excellent blog post that contains a step by step of how to replace a hard drive. The procedure isn’t very difficult, but it does involve some prying with screwdrivers thanks to Apple’s philosophy of making products that are hard for users to open up. Initially I was hoping that I wouldn’t need to perform the operation and purchase a new hard drive, so I kept on reading the posts and the accompanying comments. Before long though, I found an interesting comment that said that sometimes the sad iPod screen can be fixed by giving the iPod a hard smack. I was skeptical at first but then I thought that it wouldn’t really hurt to try since my iPod is broken anyways. I gave my iPod a couple of hard smacks and lo and behold, my iPod actually booted up into the menu screen. Thus the article ends with me fixing my iPod via the amazing smack method… just kidding. The smack, as expected, turned out to be only a temporary solution and after two weeks, no amount of smacking can get my iPod out of its “sad face” state.

Finally I reached the point where I had to try and replace the hard drive. I already found a nice set of instructions from the blog post, and I had the tools required, so the only thing left to do was ordering the hard drive. My particular iPod model used a Toshiba MK2006GAL 20GB 1.8 inch hard disk. I tried finding this model at my local computer shops but they either don’t carry it or the price was way too high. I ended up ordering the hard disk from some online store in California. It cost around $60 including shipping. Not exactly cheap but it was still a lot cheaper than the local stores or the cost of a new iPod. The drive arrived in two weeks and I was ready to begin my attempt at replacing the hard drive.

The first and also hardest step of the replacement process was to open the iPod in order to get to contents inside. Apple has designed the iPod to be hard for users to open themselves, but it can still be done with a small flat-blade screw driver, some elbow grease, and a bit of patience. Another thing of note is that unless you have very steady hands (I don’t), prying open the iPod with a screw driver is going to leave some scratches. I don’t really care about scratching my iPod since it’s already scratched and I always put it in a cover, so nobody can see the scratches. It took me about 15 minutes and the usages of three separate screw drivers in order to pry open the device. The first time seems to be the hardest by far, since my iPod was a lot easier to open after that (takes only one screw driver and around a minute to open it again).

The rest of the steps in comparison were a lot easier. Unplugging the old hard drive and removing the rubber bumpers were pretty easy. Removing the foam padding on the back of the hard drive was a little harder, since I needed to be careful not to rip the padding when cutting it. Using a sharp art knife, I manage to cut away the foam without causing too much damage.

Once everything has been dissembled, it was time to put the new hard drive in. Since the new hard drive is the same model as the old one, it fitted into the rubber bumpers snugly. The foam padding was attached using the trusty old glue stick I had lying around. After plugging the IDE cable and closing the iPod, I was ready to test whether or not the problem was solved. To my disappointment, I got the sad iPod face on my first attempt at turning on my iPod. I thought I might be a connection problem, so I opened up my iPod again, made sure the IDE cable was firmly plugged in, and tried again. Success! My Ipod finally booted up again. Of course, since the hard disk was blank, I had to restore Apple’s software onto the device before I can use it again. The restore was a painless and straight forward process as everything was integrated into Apple’s iTunes software version 7. After several weeks of non-operation, I can finally listen to my iPod again.

Overall, replacing an iPod’s hard drive was a pretty easy process, especially if one is good with tools and has steady hands. I’m neither but I managed to fix my iPod without too much trouble. My newly fixed iPod works most of the time, but sometimes I still get the sad face iPod, which is probably due to the IDE cable being loose after the iPod has been tossed around in my bag. This might have been a side effect of my smacking before replacing the hard drive. Opening up the device and re-plugging the cable always seem to solve the problem though.

Thanks for reading this article.

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