I have a third generation iPod classic from 2005 (20GB). Nothing catastrophic has happened to it, but it has sat in a box in the basement for the past two years. When it went into the box, it worked, but now when I push the power button, nothing happens. When I plug it in to a charger (even when I leave it for an extended period of time), I don't see anything happening.

Is there either

  • anything useful I can do with this device or the parts it contains,

  • anyone else who could benefit from my donating it to them, or

  • a responsible way to dispose of it?

  • What happens if you connect it to your Mac?
    – Michiel
    Mar 16, 2012 at 13:42
  • 6
    Will it blend? Oh, I guess it will.
    – zzzzBov
    Mar 16, 2012 at 20:08
  • How long is "extended period of time" for recharging? Mar 19, 2012 at 16:24
  • @StevenFisher Overnight
    – Daniel
    Mar 19, 2012 at 16:24
  • 1
    The battery has surely failed if it was left in an uncharged state for years. Once the voltage drops too low in those lithium cells, they become permanently damaged and unable to re-charge again. Storing them fully charged is bad, but letting them fully discharge is far worse. You would need to keep topping it off every 3 to 6 months and figure out the self-discharge rate to keep it above 10%. Even if you cared for it as best you could, it also could just have worn out due to normal decay over time and heat.
    – bmike
    Mar 19, 2012 at 16:42

10 Answers 10


I would try to fix it, sell it, or recycle it. In that order.

Try looking into fixing the iPod if your up for the task, since like you said there should be nothing really wrong with it other than a super dead battery. Probably the only thing you would need to buy to fix it is a new battery and a few simple tools to aid in opening the case. I recommend looking at the Repair Manual for your iPod from iFixit. Once you fix it, you tremendously increase its value and make it a better candidate to sell to people who don't like fixing things themselves. A 20GB iPod still holds its own in 2012 for playing music, and there are a lot of people who would find this device useful, and hence the parts as well even if you don't fix it. Its worth much more than most small electronics things going to be recycled.

After fixing it or not you could try to sell it on eBay, a yard sale, flea-market, Craigslist, etc. Working today March 16, 2012 its worth about $50 USD and for parts about $10 according to recent eBay completed listing prices. And again if you don't fix it you can still try to sell it for parts.

However if you don't fix it that may not be a good idea if you have personal information still stored on the iPod, eg address book, photos, etc. Because you will not get a chance to erase it. But if your not worried about losing any personal information from the iPod then by all means you can just sell it as is without having to break it open.

And lastly if you just don't want to deal with it anymore than just getting rid of it. Check into your local responsible recycling options, you may be able to simply drop it off at a nearby retail store or community waste disposal location that accepts electronics waste. Contact the people who take away your trash and see what their options and recommendations are. If your in the USA you may find the following local recycling links from Gazelle.com useful.


Apple Recycling Program

You can recycle it and receive a 10% discount on a new iPod. This is not only profitable for you and apple, but also a responsible way of deposing it.

Apple often achieves a 90 percent recovery rate by weight of the original product.


If you're 100% convinced it's broken, you can try one of the 75 tutorials listed here.

Otherwise, there’s always the Apple Recycling program for iPods. It won't cost you any money and I'm sure Apple will find a way to reuse your iPod.


Well, personally, I would sell it. You can try the Apple Recycling Program since they usually give you SOME money back, 90% of the time they can figure out a way to reuse it, and they could even give you a discount towards your next iPod purchase.

If you live in the United States, you can also try using Gazelle. They buy old Apple products and send you cash, they even pay for the shipping.


I would be tempted to get the tools needed to open the case and play with it to learn how the hardware was designed and assembled.

You can always choose to recycle it and might instead decide that the iPod case will make a perfect housing for the many new computers that are being released like the Raspberry Pi or the Cstick cotton candy.

You will of course need to have some machining skills to adapt the case, but most cities have maker groups where you can get help in a machine shop and reusing a solid case is better than recycling in my mind. You can then recycle the innards as needed once you have your new project off the ground.

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  • And before you scrap things, you can probably disconnect the battery and see if the device will spin up again after reseating the hard drive cable to the logic board and the hard drive. The lithium battery has surely self discharged and gone into a low voltage state from which it cannot recover. If the HD works, you could get a new battery and keep using it, postponing the scrap, recycle question until the next component fails you.
    – bmike
    Mar 19, 2012 at 16:38

I have that exact same model in the same situation. I've found that the batteries in those old iPods tend to not last very long when kept in storage. If you want to make the iPod work again, you can get replacement batteries at a number of sites. You can also replace the hard drive with a Compact Flash card to turn it into a solid-state player (which will get even more battery life), or use the existing hard drive to add storage to some underpowered netbook or the like. Or, as others have mentioned, you can return it to Apple and get 10% off a new iPod.


You could use the internal hard drive and screen for many a hobbyist project, as long as they aren't what is preventing the iPod from working. IMO, the battery is probably dead as a result of how long it's been stored between charges.


It won't switch on or take a charge because the battery has degraded. This happens when:

1) You store a device with a dead battery (or battery below 50% charge), this applies to Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries! 2) You store a device with a battery in a cold environment (applies to all batteries)

If you can get your hands on a replacement battery, it'll likely work fine (so long as the old cell hasn't leaked and damaged the circuitry in any way).

If you don't want to bother replacing the battery yourself, I'd put it up on eBay for around £20 as "spares & repairs", making it clear that it's probably just in need of a replacement battery (some people will have a broken iPod with a perfectly functional battery, so between the two they can make one working unit).

Disassembly is simple enough, battery replacement is simple enough, reassembly can be slightly more tricky, but a little care and consideration will see it right!


If it's the same one I have (this one), you may be using the wrong power adapter.

Although the dock connector (the wide bit) is the same one Apple is using on nearly all of their products these days, that model of iPod will only charge with a Firewire cable, and most (all?) of the power adapters and cables Apple is making these days are USB.

Hopefully it will come to life when plugged into a Firewire port like mine did.

If so, you could keep using it; you may even be able to replace the hard drive with a more modern-sized one for less than the cost of a new iPod Classic.

Or, you could stick it back in the basement (which is what I did, probably going to hack it later), go with any of the others' options, or one I'd like to add: you might be able to just give it away to somebody. It might be hard to locate someone who wants it, but I'm sure such a person exists. You could try http://www.freecycle.org/ (never used it myself yet).


The same thing happen to my ipod bettery to but I did find a solution:

If your battery get dead for a long time and you need to make it work again all what you should do is opening the ipod and take the battery out. Take a charger "12v" then touch the teeth of the battery many times and put the battery again in the ipod. Put the iPod in the normal charger then wait for 4 hours and it will work

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