An iPod named Lazarus

October 28, 2007

iPod Dead as an iDodo as it might seem, your old defunct iPod may not have made its way irreversibly to iHeaven after all.

As mentioned in my post about audible.com, I wanted to revive my son’s long discarded, non-functioning 4G iPod so that my wife could listen to audiobooks in the car. We had never had the heart to throw the thing away and it was still kicking around the house, useless and inert, having given every indication that the hard disk had rotated its last.


I had it in the back of my mind that there was a way of salvaging iPods where the disk appeared to have failed. I was sure I’d seen something on the Internet. I found this set of instructions. I’m not sure if this is the exact same website I’d come across before but it covered the same ground.

The revelation is that the hard disks on older iPods sometimes stop working because the disk cases get misshapen over time, particularly with iPods that get heavy use, due to the temperatures generated. The curvature of the case stops the disks spinning, or something, even though they are otherwise sound. If you can get the back off the iPod and introduce a piece of card or similar to hold the disk casing flat then it can spin up again.

Well it had to be worth a try. The hardest bit by far was getting the silver back off the iPod. You can apparently get special plastic tools to help you, but as I was more concerned about getting the thing working than preserving its dated looks I used a kitchen knife (shame on me). It was still very hard to prise the back off but I managed it without, as it turned out, inflicting any visible damage. I used an old business card between the disk casing and the inside of the back of the iPod to achieve the required flattening effect.

With the iPod case back on and the device connected to my PC via the USB dock connector I was amazed to see the Apple sign appear and then a very long wait for the battery to charge up from flatter than a Des O’Connor joke. After all, the iPod had not been used in around two years, my son having switched to a Creative Zen Vision:M. In due course the iPod made a complete recovery and all the music was still there and playable.

I had thought my efforts had been a waste of time when my wife decided she wasn’t all that interested in listening to audiobooks, but my son was very glad to have his iPod back as he had lost the original source for a lot of the music on there and had thought it lost forever. So there was a happy ending after all. Aaaah!

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