06 Apr

reusing an old ipod hard drive

so what happens when your ipod dies? what if you get a new one and simply have no use for your old one? if you don’t have a use for your ipod or it is broken and you have determined that it’s a model with a hard drive and it is still in working condition, you can simply turn it into an external hard drive. i had a 5th gen video ipod that had a circuit board go bad and it already had a battery that wouldn’t hold a charge. instead of buying parts to repair it, it just went ahead and bought a new one.

that left my old one for parts and pretty much the only thing of any value to me was the hard drive. mine has a zif/lif connector which i hadn’t ran into before but after doing a little looking around, i found that you could find fairly inexpensive enclosures on ebay (search for ‘1.8 ZIF LIF external usb’). from what i understand, some ipod hard drives are zif and others are ide. just make sure you know which one you own before ordering. the person i bought mine from on ebay had both types available.

1.8″ ide drive 1.8″ zif drive

the case that i bought is a hitachi mobile disk case. there really isn’t anything special about it as it is simply a plastic case with a circuit board which converts the connector to mini usb. i purchased it solely based on the plain look and small size. it is only about the size of a credit card (just slightly bigger) which is about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of a standard 2.5″ laptop hard drive in an external enclosure.

the plastic seems to be much more sturdy than that of my 2.5″ laptop enclosure which needs replacing badly. that is how the whole idea of looking for an 1.8″ enclosure came to mind. if you can help it, i would try to keep the screwing and unscrew of the case to a minimum to prevent stripping out the plastic threads in the hole as they tend to easily break on enclosures. also do not over tighten them as that will definitely cause damage to the holes.

the case doesn’t come with instructions but installation was a easy and took about 2 minutes. if you have the ability to disassemble an ipod, you will easily be able to figure out how a zif connector works. if you don’t know how to disassemble your dead ipod, just do a quick google search and you’ll find plenty of assistance. the only reason the installation took 2 minutes was because the screws were so small, they were difficult to handle. once it was all buttoned up, i just plugged it in, reformatted the drive and it worked like a charm.

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5 thoughts on “reusing an old ipod hard drive

  1. How did you format this drive after you installed it in the external enclosure? I’ve tried every type of format and I can’t get any OS to recognize this drive. Toshiba/Apple have a DCO/HPA protection written directly on the drive that prevents you from using it in anything other than an IPOD. Do a web search and you’ll find some lengthy forum threads about this. If you know the answer please let me know and post the details.


  2. hello, i really liked what you said about saving our ipod, my grandson gave me one of those sometime ago but it stopped working, i tried to fix it and open it up and i tore things up inside, but that hard drive on the first picture was intact, i never laid hand on it, but kept it because it was a gift from my beloved grandson. I was wondering if you could put more pictures and explain more of how to reuse the hard drive, please, at my age technology isn’t our good friend anymore and i need all the help i can get to understand how that works.
    Thank you so much in advance

  3. First, verify the type of connector the hard drive has. This is the only major difference between the two types of enclosures for the 1.8″ iPod hard drives. It is hard to see from the first picture of the IDE connector but you can easily tell if it is like the 2nd picture (which is the ZIF connector). Once you know whether it is an IDE or ZIF type connector, you can find an enclosure on eBay. For example, here is an IDE enclosure and here is a ZIF enclosure. You can then install the drive into the enclosure and then when you plug it into your computer, you will most likely be asked for format the disk and then you can use it as an external USB drive to store data on. Of course that is assuming that the drive itself is not faulty.

    The IDE connector is a 50 pin connector while the ZIF connector is a ribbon based type connector.

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