refreshing a classic ipod

so – this happened today!  we put an expanded solid state drive (SSD) into a classic ipod and here is how we did it.

finished job

friend of mine wanted me to try to breathe some life into his 4th generation classic ipod.

the device seemed to be having trouble syncing to itunes.  he said that it would only stay connected for a small amount of time, then abruptly disconnect.  so after a brief examination and trying to recreate the problem he described, it appears that the original hard drive had began to fail.  not surprising as this model was from 2005!

so i went to research what our options were.  to get started, we needed the actual model number of the device.  funny thing was, the model number on the back of the ipod was a1059 which is listed as a 3rd generation ipod, but the model number in the about section of the IOS listed the model number as m9282ll which is the 4th generation ipod classic (clickwheel).  this device was sold from mid 2004 to mid 2005.

many would ask why put money into a drive that was now over a decade old.  and here is where some additional information begins to make sense of the project.  the owner was a musician and wanted something that was specifically purposed and dedicated for his music only and he really loved having his classic ipod (that he considers to be built like a tank) at his disposal for as long as possible.  keep in mind, this guy owns and plays some guitars that are older that he is and sometimes through amplifiers that are equally as old.  classic is coveted.  so here we go.


the original configuration was for a 20 or 40gb IDE hard drive 4200 RPM ATA-66 1.8 inch hard drive (spinning).  this device was actually using a 20gb toshiba model hdd1422.  i took a look at those, but my mind was already thinking ahead to what others have done to improve on the fix and that plan was to install a solid state drive in it’s place.

original hard drive

many posts that i read seemed a bit complicated and involved a couple of different adapters.  some had decided to reinstall the exact same drive, while others explored the different options available to convert to an SSD drive.  there are many configurations and some would require a bit of jerry rigging.

after reading about several builds, what snagged me was one particular SSD drive that offered exactly the same size and dimensions of the existing, original spinning drive.  no adapters, no special methods of securing a different size drive, just remove the existing drive and plug the new one in.  even the rubber molding that was used to pad the original drive fit the new SSD perfectly.

so we ordered the drive, along with a  new battery, and waited for it to arrive.

replacement battery

exactly what we ordered was a 1.8 inch IDE CF female 50 pin interface SSD 64gb.  the original drive was only 20gb, so this would triple it’s capacity.  this is from apple – 20gb capable of supporting “up to” 5,000 songs encoded in “128-Kbps AAC format.  so now we had room for a library of 15000 songs!

once the drive and battery arrived, we switched them over.  when i went to turn it on i saw this strange looking icon on the screen (i wasn’t using apple devices during that period, so the icon was unfamiliar to me).

ipod classic charging icon

turns out this was the indicator for charging the battery.  and the ipod would not be able to communicate with the computer until the battery was charged.  the battery needed quite some time for it to charge.  some even said 4-5 hours.

once i got i charged i ran into a glitch – itunes did not want to connect to the device.  i knew i needed to format the drive so a ran disk utility but the format process seemed to get interrupted.  so i took it to my PC and formatted the drive with fat32 and the PC itunes picked up the device and we were able to load the IOS onto the device!  yay!  but the device listed the format as windows, and i knew owner used a mac,  so i hooked it back to the mac to restore it for mac use and my itunes would still not recognize the device!!!  after some careful reading, i read that my version of OSX (yosemite) did not have support for classic ipods.  so i took it to one of my accounts and used their mac (different version of the IOS) and was able to restore the device without any problems.

so there you have it.  my journey into converting a decade old spinning hard drive classic ipod, into a lightning fast larger solid state drive classic ipod!