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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive iPod
I had bad blocks on my iPod classic 120gb. I was told to trash it and by a certified technician but I wouldn't give up. I tried reformating at least 50 times. My iPod would restore and show up in iTunes no problem but I couldn't copy more than 2gb of data before iTunes would hang.

I also tried reformating the iPod with Disk Utility. I was able to format but not with 'zero out data' selected (recommended for fixing bad blocks). I even tried changing the partition map through terminal but was unsuccessful.

You can try the following procedure which worked for me.

Caution: This will erase all data on your iPod.
  • Using iTunes restore iPod. Uncheck both the 'Sync Music Automatically' check box and the 'open iTunes when this iPod is connected' checkbox.
  • Eject the iPod and close iTunes.
  • Restart the iPod in disk mode (Menu+Select then Menu+Play/Pause).
  • Open Disk Utility, and in the sidebar select 'Apple iPod Media.' Go to File » New » Disk Image from 'disk1' (or whatever name appears last on this menu).
  • Save the disk image on your HD. You will later use it to restore one of the partitions.
  • Now, again select 'Apple iPod Media' in the Disk Utility sidebar, and then the 'Partition' tab.
  • Under the 'Volume Schemes' pulldown menu select '2 partitions.'
  • Select the first partition and assign it a size of 4gb or 6gb (I think this was large enough to 'skip' the bad sector). Under the format pulldown menu select 'Free Space.'
  • Select the second partition and under the format pulldown menu select 'Mac OS Extended (journaled)' and name the partition (you can later change the name).
  • Now click 'Apply' in the bottom right corner
  • In the Disk Utility sidebar you should now see the disk 'Apple iPod Media', as seen before, and beneath it should be the partition you named earlier.
  • Click on the icon of the new named partition in the sidebar and it's capacity should be the full capacity of the disk minus the amount allocated to the partition 'Free Space' (e.g. my iPod Classic is 120gb and I allocated 6gb to the 'Free Space' partition so the size of my second partition is about 114gb).
  • Now quit Disk Utility and restart the iPod in disk mode as before.
  • Open Disk Utility and go to Images » Scan Image for Restore and select the disk image you saved earlier.
  • From Disk Utility select the 'Restore' tab.
  • Under source select 'image' and navigate to where you saved the disk image.
  • Under destination drag and drop, from the Disk Utility sidebar, the icon of the new named partition on the iPod.
  • Click Restore.
  • Eject the iPod and restart it.
  • Open iTunes and you should now see the iPod icon
That's it. You should now be able to copy/sync freely without iTunes hanging. I'm assuming the 'Free Space' partition skipped the bad sectors of the disk. For whatever reason this worked and even though my 120gb iPod is now only a 114gb iPod it works fine and will last me, hopefully, a couple more years.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. I suspect the author just got lucky that this worked when deleting the partition with the bad blocks. They could be anywhere on the drive, and the drive may continue to deteriorate. Having said that, as a last-ditch effort to resuscitate a dying iPod I suppose this is worth trying. As with any other storage device you care about, keep those backups up-to-date.]
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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive | 13 comments | Create New Account
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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: barryjaylevine on Jan 24, '11 08:04:04AM

I agree with crarko. If the blocks are going bad, it's a waste of time dealing with that HD. Replace it.

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Two things in this world aren't overrated: MacOSX and Lemon Meringue Pie.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: tempel on Jan 24, '11 08:17:13AM

Not every bad block means that the entire disk will deteriorate soon.

I've had fixed installed disks where bad blocks were limited to a small area, and I kept using those disks (one for years) by simply allocating the bad blocks with a file, and making sure I never delete that file.

In other cases, especially if a drop of the disk led to the damage (which is especially likely with an iPod, though), the head might have gotten damaged, a moving part come loose or bent, and that's more likely to lead to more errors soon.

In any case - what this hint does is to try to repartition the disk, creating a unused space around the bad area. The description looks a little clueless, as it doesn't even take into account that the bad area could be anywhere.

However, if you have a little bit of a clue about how a hard disk is layed out, you can use my "iBored" to scan the entire disk for bad blocks. Then you can use those bad block numbers to decide how to partition your disk to avoid the bad areas. Or, even mark the area as bad, especially if you use the FAT format instead of HFS (in FAT, it's much easier to mark blocks as bad).

I could even add such an option to iBored, if someone would promise all my dreams would come true in return (or, pay me for it) :)

Edited on Jan 24, '11 08:18:41AM by tempel



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: BMarsh on Jan 24, '11 11:52:49AM

true, while not all indications of bad blocks will mean it will get worse, it does fairly often. And how much do you trust a drive that has already shown signs of a problem?

I guess with an iPod it isn't as much of an issue, since the computer is the backup for the iPod.

With a computer, I replace the drive every time, if they want to use the (possibly) failing drive as a backup or something like that, but not as a primary storage device.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: tempel on Jan 24, '11 12:12:10PM

Yeah, but what's your point? The article was specifically about making the best out of a bad situation - and for that's it valid, especially because an iPod usually only hold a backup of your iTunes lib, not original data - so if that iPod should die eventually, nothing is lost.
No one suggests doing that with your main hard drive, neither me nor the one who posted the article.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: mr_kitty on Jan 24, '11 08:52:23AM

I would think it'd be much more productive to send it off to iresq.com for a new / upgraded drive.

While *some* drives may not continue to deteriorate once bad blocks start, most do. Certainly you can't trust a drive that has already demonstrated hardware wear.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: Typhoon14 on Jan 24, '11 09:26:06AM

I don't know about the iPod, but most modern hard drives have extra blocks that are not enabled but can be transparently swapped in if a bad block is detected (you can see this in SMART diagnostics under "reallocated sector count). On such drives, you will not see any bad blocks in software (or any associated disk errors) unless the disk has already exhausted ALL of its "spare" sectors. In other words, while having a small number of blocks fail as a disk ages does not necessarily indicate a need for replacement, having such failures actually affect functionality usually indicated that the disk is already pretty far gone.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: gmachen on Jan 24, '11 11:11:47AM

My understanding is that the ability to do a true low-level format fell by the wayside along with SCSI, but I have been led to believe that Disk Utility at least will "spare out" bad sectors when using the "zero out data" option, no? I realize the author said he tried the latter and it failed, so what does that mean? it ran out of spare sectors? or maybe Disk Utility isn't particularly powerful in that respect?



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: wilton on Jan 24, '11 12:03:40PM

The best solution is take take the drive out, and connect it to a PC. Then use Spinrite (http://grc.com) on the drive.

That will test every sector very thoroughly, and mark dead or repair as necessary. Works on all types of drive, mac/pc/linux etc.

Will



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: mvgfr on Jan 25, '11 10:14:42AM

FWIW, it may be more than luck:

Writes that fail, result in the target block being spared out and another block being used in its place.

Reads don't do this - you may very well want to try *really* hard to get the data.

Repartitioning and restoring (both) results in writing to (and thus confirming the usability - for the moment) of *every* block used by the partitions and the data written back to them.

This applies to most actual spinning-disk drives and it may also apply to the flash storage on an iPod.

Of course the warning to back up early and often still applies - a device with bad blocks may continue to degrade.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: cocoabean on Jan 25, '11 11:20:21AM

I'm sorry but this is another poor hint. If the drive has bad sectors get rid of it. If you don't care about your data it's a good hint.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: kramanat on Feb 26, '11 07:18:47AM

I had a 160 GB Ipod Classic that would not load any more than 150-200 songs. After restoring and trying to run many disk scans, I realized it had a serious issue with bad sectors.

This was one of the more important articles that helped get my Ipod back to working shape:

- I ran HDD Regenerate in small patches to understand the start and end zones of the bad sectors. For me, it was roughly a 1-1.5 GB of the disk after the first 5 GB.
- I tried to regenerate but it was just too time consuming - plus I wasnt sure if it was a permanent solution.
- Saw this article and decided to try it out. I tried for nearly 2 hours to save the dmg of the firmware - process kept hanging.
- Finally, decided to partition as suggested without having the firmware.
- It was right call, the firmware restore is not required at all
- Itunes read it and now, the space left is 148 Gb but works flawlessly.

Couple of small points:
- I use macs and pcs. So, would have ideally wanted the ipod to be windows formatted. But when I restored in my pc, it removed the partition. As such, this will be mac formatted ipod which I cannot change.



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: tguk on Aug 18, '12 08:09:27AM

I had been mucking around trying to get my classic 160Gb to work - it would load about 3Gb of stuff and then fall over. I'd tried multiple restores and everything people had suggested and nothing worked. I could'nt get a low level format to work as it fell over when it got to the bad sectors rather than marking them bad (I think it is something to do with the SMART firmware).
Anyway I restored the IPOD on an XP machine, put it in disk mode and then attached it to my Mac and ran disk utility. I couldn't back the image up as it fell over so I just repartioned the disk with the firs 10Gb at free space. I formated the remaining space as exFat and bootable which worked.
I then plugged it back into my windows machine which told me it wasn't formated ... I then formatted it with a command line utility I had found somewhere on the net called fat32format. Now windows showed it as a 137Gb disk. itunes said the ipod needed restoring. I ignored this closed itunes and ejected the ipod. When I plugged it back it it showed up under itunes as a new ipod with only 137Gb of space!
It now works perfectly with the exception that I've lost a little bit of space which doesn't worry me as I only use about 30Gb.
So thanks this post pointed me in the right direction.
The only issue I can see i if I have to restore in the future I suspect the iTunes restore will take it back to a 160GB disk and I'll have the same bad sector problem....



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Don't trash an iPod with bad blocks on the drive
Authored by: Kostecki on Apr 22, '13 11:31:04AM

I'm writing here as a last try, and i hope that someone can, at least, answer my question.

I have an iPod Classic 80gb with the exact same problem - part of the drive is.. no good, and i've run some tests that showed me errors at around the 17gb mart +/- a few gb.

So.. Is it possible to JUST leave, say 5gb of free space at the 15-20GB mark instead of 0-20GB, or do i not understand how harddrives work?



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