replacing the hardrive of an ipod

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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 didnt have the reciept for it, so he couldnt take it back unter warrenty 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Since it was already broken, why not take it apart and try to make it work. There was no clear way to ebter the ipod, so I decided to pry off the metal back using the thinnest screw driver I could find.
    It wasnt 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.

  3. 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.
  4. The ipod uses an ide harddrive, the connector pulled directly off without any problems. I now hard the bad harddrive free,
  5. The drive had blue rubber bumpers wrapped around it, and on the back, there was a foam mat that was glued to the drive.
  6. Removing the bumpers was no problem, they pulled directly off with out any fight.
  7. I tried to pull the foam off the drive by pulling on it, but that wasnt working, so I desided to get a razor blade scraper and screape it off. It worked well.

  8. Once I had the foam off, I could see that it was a toshiba drive. Model MK2004GAL. I looke dofr replacements online, but was only able to find the model MK2006GAL. I compared the MK2004GAL and the MK2006GAL, and didnt see any big differences, so I ordered one. 3 days letter I had my new drive. It didnt have the apple logo on it, but who cares, it was only $100!
  9. The blue bumpers went on with out a problem, and fit like a glove.
  10. 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 goet the job done.
  11. 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.
  12. I put the back on, and pressed down on it evenly. The back snapped without any problems.
  13. Next, I downloaded the ipod updater (11-17-2005) from, and installed it. I hooked up my newly rebuilt ipod, and did a restore. It went really fast.

  14. After the restore, I had to hook up my ipod to the wall charger. I didnt 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.
  15. 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 supprised at how easy it was to replace the hard drive in a 4th gen ipod. Im sure that someone is going to call me an idiot for opening the case that way. I dont 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 munites 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 ipods.

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  1. Ho Folks, I have an Ipod issue in that I have loaded albums on and cant see them. When I plug it into my latop a LENOVO i can see ot as a removable disk, find the songs and play them through the lpatop. But unplug it and they disappear, not in Coverflow, Albums or Artists. I took it to the store and they said it will fail cost to replae £98 or £190 for a new one.
    Any ideas

  2. Thanks – was going to buy a new ipod but had old 4th generation classic that stopped working years ago – opened up the casing and the hard disk started whirring again – I have bought a back up hard dick for circa 40 USD as a back up – for when this disk dies – doesn’t look so cool as it did when I first bought it but who cares – pity I cannot find my old 5th generation ipod.

  3. This was a great help BUT-that connection you said to be careful of? some how I managed to disconnect it. Not the easy, clip on front part, but the back. I can’t for the life of me see how to connect it. Even if I could get it to stick, I don’t see how the the connectors would work.

    Anyone have suggestions? I replaced my broken 60G with an 80G, tested it out by syncing some music, playing a little through my computer but as I was putting it all back together that back connection “fell” apart. I can’t find any missing parts laying around but I guess there could be something I’m missing that holds it in? I’m afraid to try to solder because I can’t see how it was originally connected.

  4. OK-I’m smarter than I thought I was. 😉

    I found this picture:

    that gave me a little clearer look at that connection. I did have to unscrew and remove the headphone/hold switch assembly which takes a wee bitty phillips head (yay for my husband’s tool collection) and after I lifted it out I could see there was a connection to slide that cable into that is underneath the circuit board. I suppose it would be possible to do it without removing the assembly, but I would be afraid I would damage the cable or the connector if I couldn’t see what I was doing.

    So now my old 60G photo has an 80G hard drive in it. Can’t wait to load it up. Too bad I left that thing sitting around for years when I could have been using it.


  5. well, I just tried Itunes and Ipod updater, and both showed me the same thing, the computer screen says ” Wait until the restore process be complete” and the Ipod screen says ” OK to disconnect.” and then the computer Ipod updater software says ” you can’t close this software until the restore process be complete”.

    Just to let you guys know….it never gets complete!!!

    I just bought from ebay a new Hard Drive and battery, I just opened and install cause this amazing demonstration encouraged me, and now I`m not too happy about it anymore.

    But thank you anyway!!! an if you know a solution for my problem, let me know please.

  6. Hey Josh,
    thx for your tutorial. But I´ve still a problem jet, maybe somebody can help me. I´m a owner of Ipod 3rd generation 40GB and changed the hard drive, it worked very well so far. But since i connect the ipod to my computer it shows me on the display ” Disk Mode. Do not disconnect”. I read that i´ve to reinstall a new software version, but i don´t know how. I downloaded an old version of itunes (7.0) and it shows me the ipod but i can´t update it, because of no connection to the apple server.Doesn´t it exists any more (to old?)?
    Maybe somebody can help me with my problem.
    Best regards.
    (PS: Please excuse my bad english knowledge, i´m from germany :-))

  7. Does anyone know if this method will work for iPod Classic 120 (6th gen), and if getting a hard drive with a different capacity would work?

  8. Before anyone spends money on a new hard drive (for the older generation iPods)– I have a story to offer.

    The same thing happened to me with 2 of the same iPods (4th gen classic). At first, it was merely a software problem (folder icon) and then both iPods displayed a sad face on boot-up (hardware problem). I took them both to the Apple store; they told me they could fix one for around $200, but “I might as well just buy another iPod.”

    Basically, they both sat in my desk until I had a dream one night– I dreamed I opened one up. There were 4 prongs and a wire that was supposed to wrap around the prongs to make a Z. Well, the iPod in my dream was broken because the wire wasn’t wrapped around one prong. So I wrapped it back around and turned it on and it worked (in the dream)!

    I woke up and thought “If only it was that easy.” I decided to crack it open; I unplugged the hard drive and plugged it back in, turned it on and it worked! Did that same thing for the other iPod and it also worked. Later on, my friend gave me her 5th generation iPod classic to fix because hers was doing the same thing– and my “technique” worked on hers too.

    I’m convinced Apple makes shoddy products they know will stop working, so that when a person takes it in to the Apple store, a “Genius” will tell them to buy a new iPod or pay an equal amount of money.

    I’ve fixed a good amount of classic iPods using this technique. So before you spend $100 on a new hard drive, try taking out the existing one, let it rest for a bit and put it back in. It has worked for me every time and that’s why I’m so convinced Apple isn’t an honest manufacturer or repairer.

  9. We have 100pcs 240GB hard drives in stock,the brand name is TOSHIBA and the model number is MK2431GAH,it can be used in ipod video and macbook air,the condition is brand new and the price is USD110/pc,please contact me if you are interested in,thanks.

  10. Dear i need help

    i have a 40 gb i pod classic, i did update it using iTune then afte updating it is not going to switch on completely first apple logo then connect to the external power supply icon on the screen i did connect may ipod with chager for more than 30 minutes, it is still in the same condition, please help we my ipod was very good and working before updating but now its never goes on . please anyone help me my e-mail address is [email protected]


  11. After dropping my old 20GB iPod Classic 4 gen yesterday, it began making clicking noises and showing the sad face/folder. After reading many of these comments, I did exactly what others here said they did: opened it up, disconnected the hard drive, reconnected the hard drive, and put the iPod back together. I plugged it into a wall outlet, then connected it to my mac, then had to reset it and load all my music back. Works like a damn dream! I have a newer iPod Touch but still use ol’ Bessie (Classic) because she’s simple and sturdy. These are great instructions!

  12. the only thing is you cant do all of that with a ipod touch 4g becuase you cant take the back off and if something like that happens to my ipod i cant do anything about myself for free! Cross your fingers nothing happens!!

  13. Just a heads up.. after reading this and having a $20 iPod that was broken (showing alternately the bad folder sign and the unhappy iPod sign, I tried wacking it once on the lower right edge on the palm of my hand.

    It immediately came to life. Zowie!

    I then wiped it and started loading on my music to it.. and it started hanging up again. So.. I figured nothing to lose, I opened it, and reseated the connector for the hard drive.

    It came back to life again, and allowed me to load 4,000 tracks on it (my entire CD collection) and has been working perfectly since then.

    I’m guessing that a lot of drives were replaced unnecessarily – that the act of replacing them achieved the same reseating of the hard-drive connector that I did.

    Worth giving it a shot, if your iPod is spinning up and then starts clicking and spins back down, and the unhappy iPod symbol shows up, you have nothing to lose by trying to reseat the connector. It comes apart easily enough, and the connector can only go back on one way (it has a plastic locating pin and corresponding hole at one end of the connector and socket.)

    If it still doesn’t work (I tested it without snapping the halves closed) – then put a rubber band around it and order up a replacement drive. You haven’t even wasted any effort since you’d have to open it anyway to put in a new drive.

    Now I’ll keep a eye out for a really cheap 60GB drive for mine and expand the capacity when I find a bargain. 🙂

    Very cool page – too bad the photos are gone, but disassembly pictorials can be found all over the web. The info on the drive connector can’t.. which is what made this page very valuable.

  14. It keeps going and going. Internal drive will spin up click and then go down repeatedly. Sounds like a stuck head on the drive. Apparently not. Drive is fine. IDE connectors must become bad (open) from running on battery over time.

    Opened up IPOD 4th Generation with my fingernails and knife, unplugged and plug hard drive back in, closed it up, reset IPOD with hold on/off, Menu and Select buttons, then request for wall charger, plug into MacBook, and restored via ITunes and sync music. I am back in business in less than 20 minutes. Thank you very much.


  15. I replaced the screen on my Ipod Video and I broke the clip that connects the hard drive to the board. Any ideas to get a secure connection or replacement clip without replacing the whole board.

  16. Josh,
    Great write-up. Got my old ipod 20G working like a charm again, by following your instructions to the T.


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