What once was broken has now been remade…

January 3, 2010 7:34pm
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The sad iPod face has finally been vanquished!

And I’d like to say that if I had known it would be this easy, I’d have done it a year ago, but ultimately I’m not sure if these guys were even around when the problem first presented itself.

Flashback: About a year and a half ago, the iPod that I had gotten for my birthday (circa 2007) stopped working … conveniently just outside of the 1-year warranty. The result was the dreaded Sad iPod Icon with a reassuring clicking sound to back it up. After some researching online, it sounded like it was a problem with the hard drive … I even tried some of the unconventional suggestions (i.e. slamming it into the table in a caveman-like effort to “reseat any loose cables”), but nothing seemed to work. Eventually we even took it into an Apple Store, curious of what their diagnosis might be, but they took one “look” at it and made it clear that they’d much rather sell me a new one, or at least a refurbished model of the one that I had, as opposed to actually fixing my iPod. But that’s a rant for another day…

So jump back to present day and said iPod had pretty much just been sitting on a shelf for over a year. Every now and then I’d try to turn it on just to see if it would magically fix itself, but to no avail … until one Saturday afternoon I was watching Tekzilla and they made mention of a new website called iFixit. They showed off a variety of online repair manuals for tearing apart all sorts of Apple products which looked pretty interesting, so I bookmarked the site and then promptly forgot about it!

A couple of months later, I found myself with a little extra cash from Christmas and decided that in addition to buying a new iPod Touch for the wife, I wanted to try and get my old iPod back up and running while I continued to wait out the iPhone coming to Verizon (2010?! Maybe?!?!?!). After reviewing the guides for my device, it seemed easy enough so I went ahead and ordered the parts – a small toolkit from iFixit to actually tear the thing apart without breaking it, along with a smaller 30GB hard drive from eBay (for about $35). I could’ve gotten a full 80 GB like what it originally had, but realistically I probably only had 15 GB on that thing at its peak anyways, including a couple of movies, and besides the smaller drive saved me about fifty bucks … just in case it didn’t work.

Anyways, the last of the parts showed up yesterday and I decided that it was time. And frankly, surprisingly it wasn’t really all that bad – the guide walked me through getting everything apart without breaking it just like a champ, and the replacement itself was pretty much just following the same steps in reverse. The only two “trouble areas” were getting the battery cable reseated and fitting everything back in the case (the drive was the same size, but the rubber bumpers didn’t want to conform to it quite like the original), but ultimately turning it back on gave me the best thing it had shown me in a while – no longer a sad face, but now a message saying to plug it into a computer to be repaired!

Which was kinda humorous in and of itself simply because I didn’t even have iTunes on this PC – that’s how long the thing has been out of commission, but as soon as everything got installed and launched, iTunes detected the troubled device, confirmed that I wanted it restored, and that was that!

From this…

To this…

Now all I have to do is figure out what music I want back on it and I can finally return the other MP3 player that I’ve been borrowing all of this time! Ultimately I’m pretty happy with the results – I hated the idea of just scraping the thing altogether, or even “recycling” it with Apple for a mere 10% off a newer model when it wasn’t really that old to begin with. I don’t expect things to last forever, especially electronics, but to die literally just outside of the first year seemed a little cheap to me. Thankfully, for less than $50 it’s up and running again, and if it lasts me another year until I get a chance at an iPhone, that’s good enough for me!

As far as ease of repair was concerned, I certainly wouldn’t recommend tearing apart your iPod for everybody, however if you’re the kind of geek who’s seen the inside of a computer and doesn’t get nervous around really tiny parts and really fragile, really tiny parts, then from my perspective you really don’t have anything to lose if it’s already broken anyways!

Thanks again, iFixit!!!

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