replacing the hardrive of an ipod

by Josh Highland on December 24, 2005

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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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipodgrey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  4. The ipod uses an ide harddrive, the connector pulled directly off without any problems. I now hard the bad harddrive free,grey replacing the hardrive of an ipodgrey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  6. Removing the bumpers was no problem, they pulled directly off with out any fight.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipodgrey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

  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!
    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  9. The blue bumpers went on with out a problem, and fit like a glove.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipodgrey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  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.
    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  12. I put the back on, and pressed down on it evenly. The back snapped without any problems.
    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipodgrey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

    grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod

  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an ipod
  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.grey replacing the hardrive of an 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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{ 1147 comments… read them below or add one }

1101 sloppyjoe December 20, 2009 at 4:43 am

I know the post is old but I wanted to comment and say thanks this helped me out alot in fixing my iPod

1102 Leslie December 22, 2009 at 4:21 am

Dude, very helpful instructions. However, I was not able to use the iPod updater like you have. The error message was that it’s no longer supported and suggested that I use iTunes instead but how do I go about reloading the software from iTunes? I can’t see any updating option.

1103 Ian December 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I have just had to use iTunes for this purpose and you will need to click the restore button. It will then copy essential files and reboot, at least thats what happened when I followed instructions for this. The process is well documented on the Apple website.

1104 Michael Miller December 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Fixed my 40gb iPod. it was a loose cable that connected to the hold button circuit board, and a loose screw on the hard drive it self. Thanks for the your web page.

1105 james January 23, 2010 at 1:37 pm

hi josh,

Thanks for the notes. You were right, once i got the sucker opened it was smooth sailing from there. I bought a similar harddrive for just $20, I’m wondering though if there was some sort of base utility software that was installed on the hard drives themselves. I plugged mine in, and it’s not being recognized by itunes (which is the way that apple does the updater now.

Do you have any suggestions for that?


1106 Shardul February 11, 2010 at 10:21 am

Hi Josh, Thank you for the excellent tutorial. I ordered hard drive from ebay and tried to replace as you show here. After replacing the hard drive it still shows me a sad icon. I can switch my ipod to disk mode but just for few seconds and than again it restarted and again the sad icon. Can you help me how to put Ipod updater software on the new hard drive?? or what should I do now?? Thanks for excellent repair instructions..


1107 YemNorth February 13, 2010 at 3:14 pm


your post was by far the most simple and helpful of all the posts I’ve read on fixing an old ipod. I’m glad I stumbled upon this page or else I would’ve gone to get my iPod serviced for $340 (NZ)

nice work.

1108 raj February 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm

You need to start the unit in disk mode while it is connected to a PC with Itunes running.

1109 ame February 27, 2010 at 5:49 am

Thank you every so much. Bought a disk for $24 and the replacement worked like a charm on my 4th generation iPod.

1110 gizmo_ray March 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I want to change the 80GB HDD of my iPod video to say 160GB or 240GB. Is it achievable with the same proceedure? I’d like to know.

1111 Ciaran April 19, 2010 at 6:43 am

Thanks for that, man. Very helpful indeed.

1112 Antique bed April 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I also do have problems on my i pod. The same problem you do have. The experience you’ve shared really helped me a lot in repairing my i pod. Thanks a lot.

1113 Casey April 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I just read the post and a bunch of others and they all said that it was my harddrive. My brother dropped his IPOD and it gave the support website and the harddrive was ticking. Not going to suggest it but I repetedly restarted it while it was plugged into the computer while beating it off my desk slightly and at different angles. It is restoring now rofl…

1114 Casey April 24, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Hard drive still sounds like it has gravel in it though. What specs did you look at to decide which hard drive to buy? What would make it non compatible?

1115 Bespren April 26, 2010 at 8:33 am

I just got a sad ipod just now and came across with
this blog. I dont have a pad but a had a rubber silicon
like waffer on my desk. After resting and charging
w no avail i gve it a shot. Hold my ipod photo charger face down
gave it two crunchy slam. Guess what it became ALIVE it,
turn on and it was charging. I hope many more ppl will
come acrois this blog. Sad ipod means loose connection
i have this ipid for 5 years now. And i want to squeeze every bit
of value to it!!!

1116 Jerry April 29, 2010 at 9:35 am

This step-by-step guide was wonderful, thank you! This whole process took me about 15 minutes and my iPod is back up and currently syncing my library with iTunes!!

I have a 5th Gen iPod video so sverything in this guide was spot on except connecting the Ribbon IDE connector. That part caused me a little grief since those pieces are so small. It was tricky disconnecting the ribbon and then it took me about 5 minutes to delicately push it back into the new drive and reconnect to the motherboard.

1117 AGM_UK May 2, 2010 at 10:56 am

Just wanted to say thanks for this page Josh.

My 6th Generation Ipod (120gb) had a H/disk failure. In the UK it is £120 ($180) for an Apple Dealer to replace a dead disk, while a new IPOD is £170 ($260).

After reading through what you did, I thought I’d give it a go myself.

6th Generation IPods are almost exactly the same inside as the one you worked on. I opened it up removed the H/Disk (Toshiba MK1231 GAL), ordered a new one from Hong Kong on Ebay and replaced it, pretty much following your instructions.

Very straight forward, but wouldnt have attempted it if I hadn’t read your page.

Good Work and Thanks again!

1118 Michael May 6, 2010 at 6:36 am

Thanks so much, I have over the last couple years, had to do the slap thing- it finally didn’t work. I’ve always contemplated opening the back, but was sure I would mar it all up. It worked great. I unplugged the battery and the HDD and put it all back together and now it is working. Let’s see for how long.

1119 Michael May 6, 2010 at 6:40 am

Thanks so much. I have had to do the “slap” thing for a couple years now (maybe three different times). But this weekend on a 12 hour road trip- it finally “died”. I have hesitated in the past, opening the back. I was afraid that I would cosmetically screw it up. I followed your instructions and unplugged and then replugged the battery and HDD and everything seems fine. I am going to try and find a replacement (and bigger) HDD. Thanks again.

1120 Chuck May 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Just followed your steps in replacing the hard drive of a 30 GB iPod photo from 2005. Worked like a charm. I’m so glad I could keep my old iPod without buying the newer touch models they sell these days.

1121 sexitoni June 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Just want to add my thanks. I have just rescued my old 4G iPod because of you!


1122 Engelbert September 7, 2010 at 11:38 am


I replaced the harddrive in a 40g ipod classic and everything went as shown above on the pictures, but when I connected the wallpowersupply I don’t get the reset, I still have on the display the demand for the wallpowersupply. What can I do to make it work?


1123 Agus Badri November 2, 2010 at 2:06 am

I am very grateful for the tip replacing the hardrive of an ipod

1124 ahtmly2k November 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm

hey i got a similar problem on a mini 1st gen.. do u have some pictured tutorials on how to pry it open?
that’ll be helpful thanks..

1125 Karl December 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm

My 4th gen iPod was making the same clicking noises so I took the hdd out. One year later I found a similar HDD online and didn’t know weather to order it or not. This was very helpful. Thank you so much. Cheers!

1126 Pam January 5, 2011 at 8:08 pm

OK, while reading this I just tapped our dropped ipod on the side of our fireplace. HOT DOG!!!!! It’s working just fine.
Thanks so much, what an easy fix! We thought it was a gone er.

1127 Anja January 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Thanks for the great step-by-step. All I did was un-plug and re-plug the hard-drive and voila, two resurrected IPODS that were given up for dead before. Thanks again!

1128 HEYIFIXEDMYIPOD February 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Anyone can do this. You just have to know how to open the dam thing up first. The rest is easy. Just open the pod and remove the hard drive cable from the drive and board and then re-insert just like Anja said above. I have fixed many IPODs this way. The hard drive just has a bad connection or something. Thanks for the info.

1129 Dougie February 22, 2011 at 5:20 am

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

1130 stephen February 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

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.

1131 dober March 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm

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.

1132 dober March 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

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.


1133 Viadinho March 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm

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.

1134 spomd May 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm

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 :-))

1135 Bernardo June 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm

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?

1136 Max August 5, 2011 at 3:02 am

Nicely done. although.. the ipod wasn’t really broken. AS LONG AS YOU CAN FORCE THE DEVICE INTO DISK MODE, then the ipod is fine. it’s only when the sad face comes up that you have a problem.

and, you, on top of me
you’re going to have to open your ipod to check.

1137 Psychonaut August 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

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.

1138 david August 20, 2011 at 3:48 am

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.

1139 kashif October 19, 2011 at 6:01 am

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


1140 nanner November 29, 2011 at 7:16 am

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!

1141 Chardonnay December 29, 2011 at 9:16 am

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!!

1142 Don E February 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

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.

1143 Margareta Vanhoy March 30, 2012 at 1:45 am

Thanks Man, you are great. I was searching for this from last week.

1144 Paul April 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm

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.


1145 Eddie June 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

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.

1146 Don February 5, 2013 at 3:20 am

Hi fantastic done my old ipod 20gb worked a treat just needed to download a updater from apples web page, :-)

1147 teethgrinder February 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

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


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