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Simple Fix To iPod Madness? 120

doce writes "After chunking my seemingly dead iPod off my balcony while reviewing a rubberized case, the darned thing started working again, though not quite perfectly. After taking it apart, I managed to fix it properly just by reseating the hard drive cable. Could this be the cause of all the click-of-death "sad iPod" failures users are seeing?"
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Simple Fix To iPod Madness?

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  • Maybe (Score:5, Funny)

    by wan-fu ( 746576 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:43PM (#15440372)
  • Ummmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Solra Bizna ( 716281 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:44PM (#15440385) Homepage Journal

    Hey, you've got something here! Maybe ALL broken Macintoshes can be fixed this way too!!


    • oh... reminds me of hte good 'ol days when fixing the tv was more an art than science.... he who could slap the side of the tv best was god
      • Re:Ummmm... (Score:4, Informative)

        by thc69 ( 98798 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:04PM (#15440528) Homepage Journal
        I've always been good at slapping CRT computer monitors back into functionality, but not TVs. Besides requiring the right amount of inertia in your swing, you must hit it in the center of the forward portion, the most flexible plastic near the glass; sometimes on the side, sometimes on the top. Importantly, your hand must be relaxed, and your palm should land a picosecond before your fingers...
        • That's exactly how I kept my old Amiga's 1084s monitor, complete with its whiny flyback, going for years and years - right down to the relaxed palm and loose fingers that whack it slightly after.
          • Why does that work? Why does slapping a TV or CRT work?
            • Actually it didn't work, nine times out of ten. It usually knocked the whine into a less annoying octave, though. Occasionally it brought the picture clarity back - stopped a bunch of horizontal pincushioning and all, other times it didn't. Chaos theory, man. You never know exactly what to expect.
            • Usually by jolting a loose connection back into place. I was recently staying at a (very) cheap hotel and the crappy 14 inch TV in my room would lose its picture after about 20 minutes. Clouting it two or three times would usually fix it. I assume that, as it heated up, one of the boards inside was becoming slightly unseated in its socket, and jolting it was enough to shake it into a position where it made proper contact again.

      • Or on the zx spectrums , you needed to have CPR training to get Games to run on occasion. I have no idea how many times I have had to pound down on the tape deck over the years.
        I actually considered buying a defibrillator
  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:46PM (#15440399)
    Well, good to see that he tried throwing it off a balcony before he tried taking it apart to see what the problem was...
  • +1, Funny (Score:3, Funny)

    by dhasenan ( 758719 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:47PM (#15440405)
    And that's the maximum this story deserves.
  • If all that happened was a disconnected hard drive cable, you were lucky, or the rubberized case worked very, very well.

    The click of death probably comes from a moving part, and in full-size and mini-iPods (non-nano or shuffle), the only moving part is the hard drive.

    Imagine what would have happened if the hard drive of your iPod was actually spinning at a couple thousand RPM when you chucked it off the balcony.

    I have to think that bad drives, cracked screens or bad batteries are the biggest hardw
  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:48PM (#15440408) Homepage
    Is it plugged in?????
  • Creative Players (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deliveranc3 ( 629997 ) <deliverance AT level4 DOT org> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:59PM (#15440490) Journal
    Creative HD based players all have a problem where they move the headphone connector off the motherboard.

    After 6 months the headphones start stuttering and slowly fail. This is due to this problem and can be solved by soldering the wires.

    It happened to at least 7 players that I know of and it's a huge problem.

    Ipod problems seem worse, but not much worse.

    Isn't planned obsolesence fun!
    • I was very scared that my Zen Xtra would suffer this fate.

      Alas, 2+ years and not a hitch... speaking of which, why do I always read about the crappy side of products after I've clicked the "purchase the pretty gadget now" button?
    • It happened to at least 7 players that I know of and it's a huge problem.
      Ipod problems seem worse, but not much worse.

      I sense a problem with the combination of these two sentences. Most of my friends have iPods (one of them has a non-Apple mp3 player, but I can't remember what kind it is). Nobody ever had a problem with any of them, apart from my brother, who broke the screen of his third-gen iPod when he had a bike accident. Which, by the way, Apple actually replaced free of charge.

      Even my second-gen

    • Just a side note "soldering the wires" is not exactly what needs to be done.
      I had this problem with mine and fixed it two days ago. There's actually a fairly good site 9&id=1331 [] that gives a good tutorial on getting it apart.
      There's also pictures of what you need to solder in the forum related to the article. All I needed to do was heat the existing solder for a second, plus put in a little additional re-enforcement of the jack itself.
      In the end it c
  • the Universal solution to many problems

    Proper Application of Force (ie when in doubt use a hammer)
  • by tobias.sargeant ( 741709 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:05PM (#15440537)
    I've had my (4th gen) iPod reach click-of-death stage twice, and both times I've been able to resurrect it by opening the case, and reseating the drive cable. The second time, it seemed to me that the problem was actually the zif socket at the drive end of the cable, which was displaced on one side by about .5mm. I think the key to knowing whether this is the problem is to put your iPod into test mode, and look at the smart data. If you see lots of retracts, but no reallocs, then (my hypothesis is that) the hard drive isn't dying, it's just being reset a lot (which involves retracting the heads, and hence the audible click), due to transfer errors as a result of the flaky cable connection.
    • Actually, I had the same challenge with mine. However, I took the crude approach: bang it down very hard on the dashboard, as per instructions I found in the Apple iPod discussion forums (!). It worked, and the poor 'pod has done lots of playing since! Call it the poor man's fix to the clicking of the iPod.
    • Hot Glue (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Add a small dab of hot glue to the connector next time to keep it from popping open. It won't (shouldn't) damage the plastic, and if you ever have a need to open the connector, the glue can be peeled off with a small amount of force. I used to repair point of sale debit machines, which are constantly being dropped, thrown, punched, etc. Often it's a case of cables popping out or battery leads snapping from an acute case of inertia.

    • I object to the practice of referring to iPod misbehavior due to a bad physical drive connection as "click of death".

      Those of us who had to deal with Iomega Zip drives know the real meaning of "click of death". It involves drive heads snapping off their arms and the severed stump tearing a horrible gash through the media surface.

      You iPod nancies have it easy by comparison.
  • by Mistshadow2k4 ( 748958 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:14PM (#15440601) Journal
    I don't have an iPod (just don't really need an mp3 player) but I have an external hard drive that seemed to die on me after my cat knocked it off my desk. It turned out that the cable in the enclosure had simply come unplugged. I now tell folks when they say a drive died to check the cables. So far, that's been the problem 1 out of 4 times with my customers.
  • by SinGunner ( 911891 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:15PM (#15440615)
    My iBook was dying last year (it was only 14 months old), but I hit it once (out of frustration, I'm weak) and the damn thing started working great. About a month later, the same thing started happening, so this time I decided to take it apart to figure out what was wrong (never try this. it's easier to open the damn box from Hellraiser). I found that all the connectors in the entire iBook are inserted parallel to their respective cards/boards. I thought this was genius, as it would keep cords from wiggling loose from picking it up and putting it down as is the constant state of a laptop. I then got to the only cable in the whole damn thing that is placed perpendicular to the motherboard: the hard drive cable. It's basically designed to come out. The cable comes up from underneath and connects to the motherboard. Obviously the engineers saw the intelligence in connecting all the other cables the way they were, so why not this one? Hell, the hard drive cable is secured with plain ol' tape. That's how bad it is. I really couldn't believe it. I figured out the reason for this design flaw when I took it to the Mac store. I explained exactly what was wrong and that I simply wanted them to take the time to take it apart and resecure the cable this time (because I just don't have the time or patience to do it again) and they quoted me 450 dollars to fix it. I tried to explain that nothing was wrong with the damn thing, but their amazing technical genius (they didn't even look at the damn thing other than to plug in a USB cord and say it seemed like they could see the drive, which is plausible) quoted their base price to fix a "broken" iBook.

    Suffice to say, I'm planning on building a Linux box for my next computer. I guess it was a lesson learned. Mr. Jobs had me at "hello", but he lost me at "450 [goddamn] dollars".

    • I explained exactly what was wrong and that I simply wanted them to take the time to take it apart and resecure the cable this time (because I just don't have the time or patience to do it again) and they quoted me 450 dollars to fix it.

      Um, you didn't have the time or patience to do it, why would the tech have the time or patience for anything less that $450?

      And if you weren't happy with that price, why didn't you take it to another computer shop since you knew what was wrong and what to do?

      If you don't hav
      • "If you don't have the time or patience to do something, you should expect to pay someone to do it for you."

        Because it was shittily assembled in the first place? Did you read his entire post?
        • No it was assembled the same way every other one is assembled, and of all the problems the iBooks had, HDDs were not a big one. In fact, if he did indeed fix it the first time that he opened it, the fact that it failed again would then be his own fault for not properly securing the cable. The fact that the apple store tech was willing to even work on his computer after he revealed that he had already disassebled his computer is in and of itself suprising. The fact that the tech wanted to charge him for this
          • "No it was assembled the same way every other one is assembled, and of all the problems the iBooks had, HDDs were not a big one."

            Doesn't matter if the problem was a big one or not. He was having the problem. They should have fixed it.
            • They were more than willing to fix it. For $450. The computer was outside of waranty (assuming he didn't buy the extended one) and even if it was in waranty, he instantly voided it by opening it to perform his own repair work.
              • It was originally assembled badly. The fix was not going to require $450 of work.
                • Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

                  Thanks for standing up for me, but there's really no reason to get into a battle with people who don't see your side of the story. He wants to stand up for Apple just for the sake of doing it. He's not affiliated with them or me. He's chosen sides for no reason, and thus no reason will sway him.

                  For the record, it is a design flaw in the system. I thought I pointed that out pretty well. My time is worth more than what it would

                  • Look at it from a logical point of view.

                    Your computer was warantied for what? 1 year from the date of purchase? It fufilled that requirement.

                    You believed the design was defective and flawed, so what were you hoping to have done when you took it to the store?

                    If you wanted them to do the same thing you did you weren't going to get much out of it right? Your belief is that it was inevitable that it would happen again. So why did you take it to Apple specificaly, especialy for an out of waranty repair? It's fai
    • Perhaps your machine had trouble with the hard drive cable but its hardly a common problem with ibooks. After all, you had this machine well over 15 months without this problem becoming known in the mac community. Further, both the drive and the motherboard are mounted directly against the frame. Where is there room for movement? i'm not saying that you didn't have it, but its not common.

      You can't blame the tech for not simply accepting your diagnosis. Also, you can't blame him that he's quoting the highest
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Van Halen ( 31671 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:37PM (#15440736) Homepage Journal
    I've been through two different 3rd generation iPods with dying/dead hard drives. The second, a 40 GB, was acquired, used, to replace the drive in the first (a 30 GB). That means I popped them both opened and did a drive swap, being extra careful to make sure all connections were properly seated.

    The first drive was still dead in its "new" enclosure. The second drive still worked -- but only for a few weeks. After that, it exhibited the same symptoms of clicking and slowly dying over time. No amount of reseating helped.

    The hypothesis given in the article may very well apply in many cases, but it is not the cause of all the click-of-death "sad iPod" failures users are seeing.
  • I have been through 4 ipods in the last week, and the 5th is on the way. iPod #1 I had a 4th generation iPod for about 9 months when I started getting errors saying "unable to read/write to iPod" and after I did a soft reset it wouldn't go beyond the Apple symbol. So I brought it to the Apple store, it was under it's 1 year warranty, but after the 6 month mark, so for $30 shipping and handling, I got a new iPod. iPod #2 In 3 days, I picked up the iPod from the Apple store, brought it home and the SAME @#$
  • You computer scientists and your crazy loose-cable theories. I just like to believe that the Fonz works in mysterious ways.
  • Mine's been dead for 6 months, pried it open (was scared to up until this point, decided 'screw it, why not', and its working like a charm now.
  • by Howard Beale ( 92386 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @09:56PM (#15441135)
    and drop it.

    Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were talking about an Apple III....

    • That isn't the only odd overly physical remedy recommended by Apple. I had a "Applevision" 17" display ($1049 in 1995!) which would sometimes begin to whine. Apparently this was caused by a poor connection between the CRT Yoke and the cable connecting it to the circuit boards. The remedy recommended by Apple was to firmly smack the monitor with the heel of your hand in the middle of the plastic besel at the top of the monitor. The force of this was apparently supposed to jolt the connector enough to improve
  • Common Fix (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PAPPP ( 546666 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @10:20PM (#15441268) Homepage
    The "Throwing it off the balcony" part is just an extreme version of a common fix for stuck harddrives. Giving a dead drive, especially one that is "ticking", a good firm smack will often get it working again. Works best on small (2.5" or smaller) drives. I've resurrected quite a few drives with the same trick, including the one in my Rio Karma, as someone suggests here at riovolution []. The way it works is sometimes the heads and/or platters will get stuck, possibly due to suction between the two, and the smack frees them. It often causes minor physical damage (a couple bad blocks), and a drive resurrected this way's days are probably numbered, but its great for fixing drives long enough to get the data off, or in the case of devices with nothing overwhelmingly important on them (like mp3 players) simply getting a few more weeks/months/years of use out of them.
    • no, it won't fix anything but your feelings.

      click ..... the dAMN THING BROKE AGAIN! ARRRRG!

      slap -=SMACK=- tinkle

      ahhh, that feels better.

    • A friend of mine's IPod died after it fell out of his cart into a rain filled gutter. He let his one-year-old daughter play with it. She would shake it around and drop it on the carpet repeatedly. After she was done playing with it, he picked it up and hit the play button. It worked!

      My guess is that his daughter managed to shake it just enough to fix whatever was loose without knocking something else out of place. Of course, he doesn't let her play with the iPod anymore.
  • I've never had any actual problems with my old G2 10G iPod except for the expected and understandable issue of battery wear. But a couple weeks ago, I dropped $7.50 for an 1800mAh replacement for the built-in 800mAh battery, and haven't had a problem since. I like having second generation gear when I can get it, because the bugs have been worked out of the first generation toys and the big enhancements are usually kept for the third generation of a consumer electronic device. New iPods seem too small to m
  • in general, the vast majority of sad iPods are caused by falls damaging the spinning disk. I used to deal with dead iPods daily, and I saw this kind of thing all the time. It actually is quite difficult to kill an iPod, as it requires a confluence of circumstances, including it being on, having the disk spinning, and then dropping it at just the right angle. Obviously, as the force of impact increases (be it from a fall, etc...), the number of requirements to render it dead, goes down . But, in general, t
  • Stiction (Score:3, Informative)

    by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @05:57AM (#15443120)
    My old Zen Xtra once died due to 'stiction'. This is when the read head gets too close to the platter and sticks to it preventing the HDD from working. The eventual solution was to give it a good hearty whack as it was attempting to spin up, freeing the head and bringing the player back to life.
  • "After chunking my seemingly dead iPod off my balcony while reviewing a rubberized case, the darned thing started working again, though not quite perfectly."

    Once again the proud tradition of percussive maintenance fixes another "broken" electronic device!
  • My computer died so I threw it out, but then I found out that power was lost to my neighbourhood.

    Look, Apple has a warranty plan, and an extended Apple care plan. Call up Apple, tell them about your iPod problems, and they will fix it. Apple's service is top notch, and I know of a few people that returned an iPod and received an upgraded refurbished model. This is true if you have an older generation model that Apple doesn't sell or have refurb stock.

    I know that people love to go after the top guy and st
    • wife purchased an iPod last year, just before the year warranty was up it gave up the ghost, they replaced it with a refurbed model which then failed after four months - 1 month out of the warranty extension. I should also add she spent a fair wodge of cash on an iBook as well, so Apple has done fairly well out of her.

      Apple have simply said the same thing over and over - it's not their problem since it's out of warranty - even when confronted with the fact that they are essentially saying it is norm

  • It's good to see that Henry Winkler aka Tha Fonz from Happy Days, has left a legacy grander than a thumbs up "ayhhhhh!" and "Jumping the Shark".

    For those too young to remember Happy Days, The Fonz was the only one who could get the Juke Box (a music player) to work at the local hangout... and he did so by hitting it.... all sorts of ways, though I don't recall if he ever threw it off a balcony ;-p

  • How about chucking (with a c) rather than dividing the iPod into chunks?
  • Actually, hitting your ipod on the upper right hand corner has been lauded as a fix for dying ipods for the last couple o' months on the apple knowledgebase. It is amazing that this actually works.
  • A friend of mine had hers in her purse with a bottle of tea. The lid came loose, drenched the iPod. He dad bought her a new one, then opened the old one, which she only received this past Christmas, and closed it again. It worked somehow. It seems that when these things are abused, they work again. And about Apple's warranty? An ex of mine kind of battered his Shuffle, and the guy at the store had no problem exchanging it out for a new one. This has got to be my lamest post ever.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.