Posted by: Jack | April 8, 2007

iPod: If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

On the other hand, if it is broken go right ahead and fix it yourself. Most iPods come with the standard one year warranty. If yours malfunctions during that one year, obviously let Apple take care of it for you. But if you’ve long since surpassed the warranty, don’t be worried. Years ago when everyone’s iPod batteries were dying people got all upset after finding out they could not replace them on their own. All of those people were just unnecessarily wary about trying to open their iPod.

When I connected my iPod to my computer today, it was recognized as being connected but the hard drive seemed to be unable to read. I heard irregular clicking each time the disc tried to read and iTunes never recognized the connection. After trying some hardware troubleshooting techniques (banging iPod against desk) which produced no results, I decided that it was about time I cracked open the case.

I first looked online to see what others had found to be the cause of, and solution to this problem. Turns out that many people just had a loose hard drive cable. While searching I also found that every site listed the set of specialized tools needed to open the case and remove/replace certain components. I had no intention of ordering/waiting for/paying for a piece of plastic just so I could fix my iPod. Below are my instructions on how to disassemble 4th generation iPod without special tools.

  1. Toggle the lock switch to the lock position.
  2. Get a can-opener from your kitchen…seriously. Flip it upside down and wedge the sharp wheel into the seem on a long side of your iPod.
  3. Roll the can-opener back and forth numerous times.
  4. When step 2 doesn’t accomplish anything, press way harder and continue rolling back and forth until the case opens on that side. Repeat on bottom and then on top if necessary.
  5. Pull iPod front and back directly apart just far enough to see which side is still connected by a cable. Now open the iPod in an unfolding motion and lay it flat.
  6. Using your fingernails or needle-nose pliers if available, pull the previously mentioned cable off of the front portion of the iPod.

Thats basically it. At this point you can easily swap out the hard drive, hard drive cable and battery with no tools and no further instruction. It’s quite intuitive. If you needed to swap out the logic board or display screen, you would need one small special screwdriver. It’s the kind with a 5-pointed star shape; the name escapes me at the moment. But with that appropriate tool, either could be replaced with ease.

Any of this can be done in five minutes or less. In the event that someone might doubt me, I have recorded myself performing the above steps. I didn’t go as far as taking the battery out because I didn’t feel like trying to get the connecting cables crammed back into the corner.

While playing around with the innards, I totally forgot why I had opened it in the first place. I only remembered again just as I was snapping the case shut after reassembly. Similarly, while writing this post I almost forgot to mention that pulling everything apart and putting it back together solved my hard drive reading problems. I guess I still can’t justify upgrading to a Nano.

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