Now that he has an 80 GB iPod, Jeb returned the Archos after three years of borrowing it. Also it didn’t work anymore. Well, kind of. If I hooked it up to my computer (had to install the drivers since my current computer had never seen the Archos before) it would act as an external hard drive, but by itself it wouldn’t spin up its hard drive and seemed to freeze while trying to boot up. I could turn it off and it would flash HD FAIL before turning off. So it was useless as a music player.
I looked on the Yahoo group (still around, but not so active) and found some different theories on the problem. Some said reformatting the hard drive on Windows 98 would help, others said something had to be resoldered inside. I tried the formatting via my old computer and got nowhere. Still, since it worked as a hard drive, I figured I would take it to work and use it to back up my e-mail archive which is now about 2 gigabytes and therefore too big for a CD, flash drive, or even one of my big SD cards. Unfortunately, for some reason when I connected the Archos at work it would crash my computer. Yikes.
Still, I couldn’t just give up completely. So today I connected it to my home computer. It was working fine as a hard drive and I thought maybe if I deactivated it on the PC and then turned it on real quickly the hard drive would spin up. For whatever reason, the Archos came back to life! I loaded it up with about 15 GB of music (at old USB speeds this took about 4 hours).
Now I’ve got it playing on battery power through my computer speakers and it sounds as good as ever. It’s even got the latest Rockbox software installed. They are up to v2.5 now. The people at Rockbox (a group of independent developers who offer a free alternative operating system to the original Archos system) also have written a new version of firmware, the basic operating system that is hard wired into memory. I thought that might help the booting problem (or the cause of it), but it doesn’t look like my model allows the flash ROM to be updated.