Repair Stories

A Tale of Two iPod Repairs

Yea, that’s what I said: iPod. And not just any iPod—an old 30-GB 5th Generation iPod. Remember those? My husband and I have a set of two, and those trusty iPods have come along on grueling runs, incredible hikes, and long road trips for almost six years. But when both headphone jacks broke, the soundtrack to my life suddenly went mute.

Since then, our iPods have been sitting in a drawer, collecting dust. The hundreds of songs on each were left trapped inside their digital prison, dying a peaceful death—never to be thought of again. All those road trips with no curated playlists. All those 4-mile runs that could have been 5-milers—cut short without music’s motivation.

I wasn’t keen on forking over a load of cash for a set of new iPods, and I wasn’t ready to part with our old ones. So, the broken iPods continued to sit in a drawer—a common fate for aging tech. Most households in the US have at least one old cell phone hidden away in a junk drawer. Larger devices, too, suffer a similar fate: the EPA estimates that there are 99 million televisions in the US rusting out the remainder of their useful lives in storage. For the majority of those stockpiled devices, the next stop is the dump.

So, what’s a gal to do with two broken iPods, aside from just give up on them? For a long time, I didn’t know. Then I came to work at iFixit, and I found a way to resurrect my iPods from the dead. To give them new life and reunite their music with my ears.

Before iFixit, it never occurred to me I could fix my iPods. Myself. After all, I don’t have a degree in engineering. I don’t usually take things apart just for the fun of it. And while I certainly hold my own troubleshooting computer ailments, I’ve never really considered myself to be super tech savvy.

But I really had nothing to lose. The iPods were already broken. The worst I could do was break them harder. So, I grabbed a Pro Tech Toolkit, found a replacement iPod Video 30 GB Headphone Jack & Hold Switch, and opened up iFixit’s step-by-step iPod repair instructions. Then, I pulled one of the old iPods out of the junk drawer and took the repair plunge.

iPod repair

Thirty minutes later, I had taken the iPod to pieces, thoroughly fiddled with its insides, and managed to put it back together again. Now, the moment of truth: I plugged in my headphones and voila! Music was coming through—filling my ears with sweet melodies that I thought had been lost forever. Each song conjured up old, wonderful memories of rustic trails, roads, and runs.

After my initial surprise passed, I was overcome by different emotions: pride and elation. I had done it! I had fixed something. If the iPod could talk, I was certain it would thank me for its new life. And I couldn’t wait to fix the second iPod when I got home. More than that, I couldn’t wait to show my husband the cool, new thing I could do. (I’m racking up all the cool wife points.)

I burst through the front door with my toolkit in hand and a fire in my eyes, ready to show off my new skills. I got my husband set up and let him give iPod repair a whirl.

What do ya know? He did it! We celebrated with a miniature dance party and spent the rest of the evening with our headphones jammed blissfully in our ears—just so we could use the little beauties we gave life to.

Broken iPod has been repaired

And so, I challenge you: Go through your house, find that old gadget, computer, lamp, or iPod—something that’s broken, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to throw away. Find it, and commit to fixing it.

You can do it. I promise: it’s the best feeling in the world.