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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Revitalizing an old iPod with OWC’s iFlash adapter

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.


Our family minivan came with a USB connector in the glove compartment, and so for years I’ve kept a 60GB fifth-generation iPod Classic1 in there, loaded up with as much music as I could fit. But lately it’s been showing signs of age that made me fear for the life of its internal spinning hard drive, and I haven’t been able to load our entire music library onto it for years.

But recently I got a chance to try out Other World Computing’s $49 iFlash, an upgrade that replaces the iPod’s hard drive (5th and 6th generation models only) with an SD card reader (with inserted SD card—I used a 128GB SDXC card that cost about $70). Now my old iPod has doubled in capacity, enough to fit every song I own. It’s also no longer relying on a spinning platter as a storage mechanism, which should extend its life dramatically.

Cracking open an iPod and replacing its hard drive isn’t for the timid. If you’re not comfortable poking around in the guts of electronics, you might want to find a friend to perform the installation for you. I’ve never cracked open an iPod before, and I managed to do it just fine, though the install process was a little harrowing at a few points. (It would’ve been much easier had I watched OWC’s how-to installation video, which hadn’t yet been posted when I installed the product in my iPod. I did use iFixit’s guide, which was helpful… up to the point when I needed to install the iFlash.)

I don’t carry this particular iPod around anymore—like I said, it lives in the glove box—but every time I pick it up I’m also struck by how much lighter it is. It feels more like a movie prop than a real device, because that metal drive has been replaced by a very light card reader.

In any event, even with my troubles (I installed the product upside-down and so I had to disassemble and reassemble it), it took me less than a half hour from start to finish. It helped that I had some spudgers, but otherwise the installation didn’t require any tools that I didn’t have at hand.

Look, the iPod isn’t a cool product anymore. But if you’ve got an iPod Classic around—in your pocket or car or kid’s room—and want to keep it running (or return it to relevance), this is a relatively low cost way to do the job. Not everyone needs (or wants to pay for) streaming music—and now I’ve got 14,000 songs at my fingertips whenever I’m driving.

  1. In the interests of clarity, I consider all “classic iPods” to be iPod Classics. For more information, visit the Wikipedia page tellingly named iPod Classic

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