How to restore (or replace) your beloved iPod


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When Apple quietly acknowledged the end of the iPod earlier this month, some of you grew nostalgic for the digitally encoded soundtrack of your youth. Others were quick to tell us how your old mp3 players continue to chug along like it was 2004. And a surprising number of you had questions.

How do I get all the stuff on my iPod back off of it? Does Apple still fix these things? And, most importantly to some, what are we supposed to listen to now?

In this week’s edition of Ask Help Desk, we set out to tackle those issues — and hopefully convince a few people to crack open their iPods for fun. And if you have a tech quandary of your own you’ve been trying to figure out, don’t be shy: send an email to [email protected], or fill out this form. We look at all of them, I promise.

Now, onto this week’s questions.

Preparing for the worst: I love my iPod, so what will replace it if it breaks? I have movies (that I made) and tons of music, more than I keep on my computer. And I dislike my iPhone so probably won’t be using it for music. [I’m] also old school as far as streaming — just don’t want to pay for that.

Tori, Granville, Tex.

If it helps, Tori, you are absolutely not the only person who still loves their iPod. And your question touches on two fascinating issues other people have written in about, too. Let’s take those in order.

Rescuing your old music and movies

It’s definitely possible to pull media off of iPods, even much older ones. The process can be a little tricky, though — whether you’re using a Mac or PC, you’ll have to make sure your computer can view hidden files and poke around in the file structure store on your iPod. Once you’ve managed that, you can drag and drop your files right back to your computer, even if it isn’t the one you were using the iPod way back when.

But, if you’re willing to pay a little, there’s an easier way. I’ve spent the weekend trying out a handful of apps that claim to easily migrate from iPods back to a PC or Mac, some of which failed to even recognize an attached mp3 player. (Here’s looking at you, AnyTrans.) But one app, called iMazing, worked like a charm.

If you’re only after a specific handful of tracks and movies, you might not need to for the service at all — iMazing lets you transfer 50 files from an iPod to a computer free. Any more than that, and you’ll need to shell out some cash; the company’s one-time fees start at $34.99 for use with a single Apple device and go up depending on how many iPods you want to pull from.

Finding a replacement music player

I know it seems like the world has moved on from mp3 players, but that’s not completely true. Sony still makes some Walkman-branded portable music players and SanDisk — a company best known for making storage chips for other gadgets — has a line of tiny “Clip” music machines too.

The catch? Unless you find a good deal on a Sony, many of the affordable ones are kind of junk-y. And the ones that perform — and sound — like rock stars can cost more than most people expect. This looker of a media player from the Korean brand Astell & will set you back $749, and that’s the cheapest one they make.

So here’s what I would recommend. For years, LG — the company arguably best known for TVs and appliances — made smartphones that sounded wonderful paired with the right headphones. The secret? They were about the only company out there that put quality DACs, or digital-to-analog converters, into their devices.

My friends at the website Android Authority do a great job unpacking the geeky details, but long story short, certain LG phones — like any of its V-series phones, or the G7 or newer — make for great music machines. And since LG smartphones basically tanked in the States, you can find these devices on sites like eBay for a relative steal. (That is, until supplies finally start to dwindle.) In any case, once you have one in hand, just move your music onto the phone, and voilà: you’ve essentially got an iPod Touch that plays music better than the real deal.

Alternately, you could do your best to spruce up your current iPod to keep it running for longer — something another reader was keenly interested in.

Reviving a Classic: I still have an iPod classic that, unlike many other Apple products I’ve owned over the years, crapped out within about a year. I’d love to get it working again because new cars don’t have CD players and my CD collection is huge. Where can I get it fixed? Does Apple still bother with repairs if it has discontinued the devices?

— Chris Dortch, Chattanooga, Tenn.

As you’ve probably guessed, Chris, Apple officially considers your iPod obsolete. Practically speaking, that means two things: First, Apple won’t even bother trying to fix it for you. And second, Apple says on its website that authorized service shops can’t even order the replacement parts for those products (outside of some rare circumstances, anyway).

With that in mind, I’d say you have a few options. You could, for instance, scour Chattanooga for local repair shops that might be willing to take the case. Most of these outfits tend to deal with smartphones, tablets and computers, but you might get lucky. Failing that, the repair chain ubreakifix offers mail-in repair service, and still seems to fix older iPods like the one you have.

But if you have even the first twinge of interest in DIY, you might want to try fixing your iPod yourself. There’s no shortage of video walk-throughs to help you figure out how to swap out potentially problematic parts. (Some of them, like this one from Australian YouTuber DankPods, manage to be funny and comprehensive.)

And if highly visual, step-by-step guides are more your style, iFixit’s collection of guides is hard to beat.)

And with the right parts — say, a larger battery and an adapter that replaces aging hard drives with easy-to-find SD cards — your iPod classic could work far better in 2022 than Apple had ever imagined it would.