I've an iPod Classic 160 GB bought in 2007.

I've never had problems copying songs into it, through iTunes, but from the beginning I never had much success using it as a portable hard drive. Whenever I tried copying large files, or many files, into it, it would hang and reboot after a while.

The same happens when I tried copying videos into it, also through iTunes, to the extension that iTunes complains that it can't read or write to the iPod.

Usually, restoring the iPod returns it to the state that I can copy songs again, but when I increase the usage to videos or large files the trouble starts again.

I'm pretty convinced it has a bad hard drive, but it is not covered by warranty anymore. Fixing it at a local Apple representative would cost as much as buying a new one, and the ifixit howto is pretty much discouraging, besides stating that video iPod use special hard drives and they don't sell them anymore.

I was hoping that mounting the iPod in disk mode and running a check disk would mark the bad sectors and allow me use it as a <160GB iPod, but I can't find what tool would do that on the Mac.

What do you recommend? How should I proceed?

4 Answers 4


You can try to diagnose if the disk has a problem with the diagnostic mode.

To enter the diagnostic mode, press the following key for 5 seconds when the Apple logo appears after a reset :


In the diagnostic mode, you can navigate in the menus with the back/next keys and launch a bunch of tests, including hard drive tests.

If the tests show a disk problem, the solution is to change the disk. Buying a second-hand ipod disk from someone who broke his screen won't normally be very expensive.

  • Ive never tried this before, thanks for the tip. But on a Classic (120GB) I can't figure out how to run the actual hard drive test myself. Do you have a link for newer iPods?
    – jmlumpkin
    Jan 5, 2011 at 13:31
  • Sorry, ipod classic is the same as 4g and 5g. I have corrected the post. Jan 5, 2011 at 13:38
  • I can get into the tests, but I couldn't find one labeled just for hard drive tests. You can get SMART status and other stuff, but I couldn't find one to do a scan of the drive manually.
    – jmlumpkin
    Jan 5, 2011 at 13:50
  • In SMART DATA I get: Retracts=275; Reallocs=343; Pending Sectors=0; PowerOn Hours=515; Start/Stops=203; Temp=31C/19C/54C. I don't know what to make from that.
    – lpacheco
    Jan 5, 2011 at 23:55
  • I took the hard drive from a defective iPod Classic 80GB of a friend and installed in my iPod Classic 160GB. It is working pretty feel.
    – lpacheco
    Jul 24, 2011 at 23:43

It wasn't clear from your question—can you mount the iPod as a hard drive?

If you can, try running Disk Utility on it.

  • Yes, it mounts as a hard drive, and I have tried running Disk Utility on it, but everything I try fails. Is there a tool for scanning the disk for errors that will mark the bad blocks, so that I can use the rest of the disk?
    – lpacheco
    Jan 6, 2011 at 4:34
  • @lpacheco - Disk Utility is the tool that does that. Can you give more detail than "it fails"?
    – Dori
    Jan 6, 2011 at 5:08
  • The iPod is in disk mode. When I try partitioning it, I get the message: "Partition failed with error: POSIX reports: The operation couldn't be completed. Cannot allocate memory."
    – lpacheco
    Jan 26, 2011 at 10:51
  • @lpacheco - instead of trying to partition it, just run First Aid on it and see what's reported.
    – Dori
    Jan 26, 2011 at 18:29

Buy a new drive

When you are certain the drive is broken (and this does happen), you can buy a new drive (for example on ebay).

You can find another link to buy the drive, and an installation guide on how to install the drive on iFixit

I had similar issues and replaced the drive with succes. It is not so hard to do it yourself.

  • i used a SD card instead of a new spinning disk. here's the adaptor iflash.xyz
    – austin
    Mar 12, 2018 at 21:17
  • In the end, this is what I've done. I got the disk from an iPod with a broken panel.
    – lpacheco
    Mar 14, 2018 at 16:25
  • Nice you did it after >7 years! Mar 14, 2018 at 20:48

Most likely your iPod Classic hardisk has got stuck in retract, but if you are lucky, try the Hard Reset.

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