Restoring older iPod models

Q: I recently obtained a 20 GB iPod. I installed iTunes and synced up and everything was working fine for one day. I then plugged it back in and iTunes said I needed to restore it, so I did. Unfortunately, how the only display which will come up is a plug being plugged into a wall socket. I do not have anything which came with the iPod to plug it into a wall and am at a loss for what to do.

– Sarah

A: Although your question does not specify which 20GB iPod model you have, it is likely to be an older model as the 20GB units have not been available since the fourth-generation. Apple’s knowledgebase article, Identifying Different iPod Models can assist you in determining which model you specifically have.

Unfortunately, older iPod models required connection to an external power source after a “Restore” in order to ensure that uninterrupted power was available to complete this process. In most cases, this needed to be a FireWire-based power source, which means either a powered FireWire port on a computer, or Apple’s FireWire power adapter.

Some of the later-model fourth-generation iPods with color screens could also complete an upgrade/restore process with a USB power source, since Apple began including USB-based chargers with these iPod models, gradually phasing out the FireWire requirements. Any of the models with black-and-white screens required a FireWire connection, however.

What this ultimately means unfortunately is that you will need to find a way of connecting your iPod to an power source in order to complete this process. This very likely means that you will need to obtain a FireWire cable for your iPod, and either connect to a powered FireWire port (if your computer has one), or also obtain an Apple FireWire adapter.

You may be able to obtain some assistance from the Genius Bar at a local Apple Store if you have one nearby. Alternatively, as a worst-case scenario you should still be able to purchase the iPod FireWire cable and power adapter from the online Apple Store.

Note that some older third-party iPod charging accessories will also serve this purpose by providing power to the iPod on the FireWire input, but it is difficult to say for certain which accessories fit into this category. Certainly any iPod accessories that were designed to charge a third-generation iPod would be suitable for this purpose, however these are becoming increasingly rare, as the third-generation iPod is a few years old at this point.

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