Sick iPod Well Again

A guy at work was having trouble with a 4G iPod that his son didn’t need anymore. He said he couldn’t sync it with his PC because it was formatted for his son’s Mac. I told him to bring it in and I would try to fix it. I didn’t have a problem syncing it (it was already formatted for Windows). I had an old program that was an iPod Updater that I tried to use to restore the iPod (wipe it out and completely reformat it, using the latest iPod software for that model), but that capability has now been built into iTunes. But iTunes wouldn’t download the update for the restore even after I uninstalled the obsolete Updater. I gave him his iPod back and said it should work fine even though I hadn’t restored it.

A few days later I was trying to make my first iTunes purchase since November and they wouldn’t download either. I played around with my firewall settings in McAfee (even turning it off completely), but decided the problem must be with iTunes timing out before a dial-up connection could bring a song over (about 10 minutes for a song). It didn’t help that iTunes was now trying to download three songs at a time instead of one like it used it to do. I tried some different settings in iTunes, but couldn’t fix the problem.


I wound up uninstalling iTunes, reinstalling an older version, and so on. It took hours. Then I would try downloading songs and it wouldn’t work, but after the error message the modem would stay active for a few minutes indicating it was still talking to iTunes. I was downloading several megabytes of data and not getting any songs. That seemed odd. Eventually I decided to uninstall McAfee Total Protection which I had installed in early December. After that the songs downloaded without a problem. So, like Mom, I have had to uninstall McAfee in order for my computer to work properly.

Meanwhile my iPod started to lock up and I wound up disconnecting even though the iPod said “Do not disconnect.” It may have been filled up trying to sync Steve Jobs’ 1.2 GB Macworld address and John Hodgman’s free audio book, which there wasn’t room for. Things went from bad to worse. The iPod was very sluggish whenever it was connected to the computer. In the end I would connect the iPod and the computer would crash with a “blue screen of death”. The PC’s blue screen had a curious warning: driver_corrupted_mmpool. That sent me trying to download new drivers for the iPod, but the drivers seemed to be up to date. I did a system restore back to December 2. Still I would get the blue screen and have to restart my computer (the system restore has never helped me out).

I went into diagnostics mode on the iPod (which was working fine as long as I didn’t try to connect it to a computer) and ran the hard drive scan. I got the result “HDD FAILED” which usually means it is time for a new iPod. But I knew that couldn’t be the whole story since the iPod worked, meaning the hard drive was still working too.

I found some posts on the internet that said you could find someone with a similar model iPod, open both of them, transfer your hard drive into their iPod and do an update. Well, I don’t know anyone else with a 3G, except Martti in Estonia. Plus who would let you do a brain transplant on their iPod? Another post said you could connect it to a Mac and the Mac would recognize a damaged hard drive and attempt to fix it (which I thought would make a great PC and Mac commercial: PC turns blue and dies when it touches something and Mac just fixes it).

So Susan and I visited the Wizard of Snellville last night. After a few false starts (it wasn’t quite as simple as I had been led to believe) Jeb was able to restore the iPod and get it working with a Mac. Jeb said it was very happy working with the Macs at his house and it wanted to stay there. But I took it home anyway. After listening to some songs Jeb had put on there as a test, I connected it to my computer today. The PC didn’t crash!

Because Jeb had made it a Mac iPod (intentionally), I had to reformat it again and do a restore to put it in Windows format (as a Mac iPod the computer recognized it, but couldn’t read it). Once again for some reason iTunes was unable to download the restoring software. It said I wasn’t connected to the internet, even though I was and could connect to the iTunes store and download songs. At this point I was using an older version of iTunes, so I installed the latest version. I think the problem was I had uninstalled the Apple Software Update. Anyway, with the latest version of iTunes installed with Apple Software Update, iTunes now acknowledged my internet connection, and I soon had it reformatted and loading up with songs. By the time I finished writing this post my iPod was good as new again!

Thanks, Jeb!

2 thoughts on “Sick iPod Well Again

  1. So do you think that the issue all along was related to outdated iTunes software… perhaps dating back to your Windows rebuild?

    Per your advice, I’m avoiding 24 Hours and now downloading season 1 of Lost. $34. Includes first two pilot episodes.

  2. When all of this started I had the latest version of iTunes, so I suspect the original problem with the downloading was McAfee was getting in the way. Trying to load too much stuff onto the iPod may have been a problem too.

    You could have just bought one episode of Lost, you know. I was originally turned off by the shaky cam of Lost, but they seem to grow out of that eventually.

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