Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Fixing a broken iPod

I was going to make one of two posts today:

  1. How I fixed my broken iPod
  2. What iPod to buy in place of my broken iPod

Thankfully, this post is the first one.

I have an iPod Mini, bought in August 2004, which has hit a spot of bother. Well, okay, I dropped it, and afterwards it kept crashing or giving me the dreaded ‘unhappy iPod’ screen (which is like the Blue Screen of Death for iPods) when playing music, especially when skipping tracks. So here’s how I fixed it:

  1. Because my iPod was formatted in Windows (a concious choice, see rant below), I plugged it into Hari’s computer and ran ScanDisk, and opted to do a full surface scan to fix any bad sectors.
  2. Next, I opened iTunes on the Windows PC and did a restore on the iPod, wiping the existing firmware and files and replacing it with the most recent firmware.
  3. Then, I reloaded my music.

And now it works fine. Quite what went wrong originally, I am unsure, however by running ScanDisk I could have it mark any damaged parts of the disk as bad. If I had more money I would have bought a copy of SpinRite which is apparently very good at getting hard disks back into working order (or at least letting you know that your disk is fubar‘d).

I may still consider buying a new iPod eventually but I’m torn between which model to buy, so that blog post may still come. At least now it’s not so much of a priority as my current iPod now seems to work fine.

And now for my rant about iPod formatting. If you format your iPod on Windows, it will be formatted with the FAT32 file system, readable by Windows and OS X (and pretty much every other modern operating system). Format it on OS X, however, and it’ll be formatted with the HFS+ file system which only OS X can read. Since Apple now ships Boot Camp with Macs and has been promoting the ability to run Windows if needed, why not let Mac users change the file system used when formatting? If needed it can be some option hidden away in an obscure corner of iTunes where your average Joe User who has no idea what FAT32 or HFS+ are can safely ignore it. But it would be nice to have the option, rather than having to use a Windows computer.


  1. Wow.. i can see how this would work.. pretty clever!!
    Now, i had a similar problem with my ipod too, however, back in those OLD days (hahah) I wasnt a capable electronics chap, so I think I looked up a firm on google I think they were called, if i remember correctly they were pretty good.
    Anyways!! Im up for any challenge now so keep the great posts comin!!

  2. The guy who commented on that post owns ipodsfixed4 u by the way. They have ripped me off in the past!

  3. HELP! my ipod has died on me, i dont know what the hell is wrong with it… it says its plying a song and the clicker works and timer and all but nothing comes out the earphones… iv brought new headphones but nothing, and iv tried putting it on a dock, but also nothing. i have also tried resetting it… so any tips??? id rather pay whatever to get it fixed and keep my songs rather than buy a new one and loose all my music!