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Replacing the Hard Drive of an iPod
Josh Highlands Blog
December 24th, 2005
My brother Justin loved his 20 gig 4th generation iPod until he dropped it at the gym one day. It stopped working all together and would make clicking noises when he would try to start it.
He had gotten it as a gift and didn't have the receipt for it, so he couldn't take it back under warranty I guess. Apple said that it would cost $250 to fix. Instead of fixing it, he spend the money on a 30 gig 5th generation. I asked him for the broken iPod so I could tinker with it. After I got it from him, I decided that it would be cool to own an iPod, and that if i could fix it for less then the retail price, I would be a head of the game. I documented my adventure of trying to fix my iPod, check it out.
When I would start the iPod, I would get an icon of a folder and a warning sign. The iPod would then make a bunch of clicking noises. That make me think that the hard drive was crapped out.
Since it was already broken, why not take it apart and try to make it work. There was no clear way to enter the iPod, so I decided to pry off the metal back using the thinnest screw driver I could find.
It wasn't that hard to work the screw drive between the metal and the plastic. I worked the screw driver down the side of the case, until it popped off.
I flipped the iPod over, and opened it up slowly, I noticed that there was a ribbon cable connecting the guts if the iPod to the jacks mounted to the metal back. I was careful not to mess this connection up.
The iPod uses an hide hard drive, the connector pulled directly off without any problems. I now hard the bad hard drive free,
The drive had blue rubber bumpers wrapped around it, and on the back, there was a foam mat that was glued to the drive.
Removing the bumpers was no problem, they pulled directly off with out any fight.
I tried to pull the foam off the drive by pulling on it, but that wasn't working, so I decided to get a razor blade scraper and scrape it off. It worked well.
Once I had the foam off, I could see that it was a toshiba drive. Model MK2004GAL. I looked for replacements online, but was only able to find the model MK2006GAL. I compared the MK2004GAL and the MK2006GAL, and didn't see any big differences, so I ordered one. 3 days letter I had my new drive. It didn't have the apple logo on it, but who cares, it was only $100!
The blue bumpers went on with out a problem, and fit like a glove.
To get the foam to stick to the new drive, I went super ghetto and reached in my desk, and came up with a glue stick! Hey, it got the job done.
The new drive went in, just like the old one came out. I connected the IDE connection, and I was ready to close it up.
I put the back on, and pressed down on it evenly. The back snapped without any problems.
Next, I downloaded the iPod up dater (11-17-2005) from apple.com, and installed it. I hooked up my newly rebuilt iPod, and did a restore. It went really fast.
After the restore, I had to hook up my iPod to the wall charger. I didn't have one on hand so i tried all kinds of methods of going around it. In the middle of me trying to hack around it, My buddy chris called, I told him to bring over his wall charger.
5 minutes later Chris showed up with a charger. I plugged in the iPod, it reset itself, and then I was up and running with my newly rebuilt iPod.
I was really surprised at how easy it was to replace the hard drive in a 4th gen iPod. I'm sure that someone is going to call me an idiot for opening the case that way. I don't care though. I got this thing working and that all that matters, and I did it for under $100. Screw apple for wanting to charge $250 for 20 unites worth of work and $100 worth of parts.
I hope that through my experience, someone else can bring back to life one of their dead iPod's.
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