How do I recover music from my old iPod?

iPods were once the most popular portable music players on the market. However, as technology has advanced, many people have stopped using their iPods in favor of smartphones and music streaming services. If you have an old iPod tucked away in a drawer somewhere, you may be wondering if you can recover the music you purchased on it.

Can I still access music on my old iPod?

The short answer is yes, you can still recover music from an old iPod, even if you no longer use it or it won’t turn on. The music files are still likely stored on your iPod’s hard drive, so with a few tricks, you can get them off the device.

However, how easy it is to recover your music depends on what generation of iPod you have and whether it still functions. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect with different models:

  • 1st to 3rd generation iPods – These classic iPods have mechanical hard drives inside that may fail over time. If the drive still spins up, you can sync to iTunes to recover music. If not, you will need data recovery software to pull files off the dead drive.
  • 4th generation iPod nano – This nano model has flash storage instead of a hard drive. As long as it turns on, you can recover music via syncing. Otherwise, data recovery software is required.
  • 5th and 6th generation iPod classics – These have hard drives that are more reliable than earlier models. Syncing via iTunes should allow music recovery if the device functions.
  • 1st and 2nd generation iPod touch – These models have flash storage. If the device powers up, syncing via iTunes will recover media.

As a general rule, if your old iPod model still turns on and functions, you should be able to recover media with a simple sync. Non-functioning models require data recovery methods.

How to recover music from a working iPod

If your old iPod still powers on and works, follow these steps to sync media files off it:

  1. Charge the iPod – Make sure it has enough battery to complete the sync.
  2. Connect the iPod to your computer – Use the original USB cable that came with your iPod model.
  3. Open iTunes on your computer – iTunes is required for all syncing functions.
  4. Select your iPod in iTunes – It should appear as a device in the menu once connected.
  5. Enable syncing – Check the boxes for music syncing and automatic syncing in device preferences.
  6. Sync the iPod – Syncing will copy all media files off the iPod to your iTunes library.
  7. Export files from iTunes – You can then grab the music files out of iTunes to store and play on other devices.

Following this simple process will allow you to recover all your music off the iPod and onto your computer. Be patient during the syncing process, as it can take awhile if you have lots of media to transfer. Make sure not to disconnect the iPod during syncing.

Recovering music from a non-functioning iPod

If your old iPod won’t power on or has a damaged hard drive, you won’t be able to perform a simple sync to get the music off of it. Instead, you’ll need to rely on data recovery software designed for iPods and iOS devices.

Here are some options:

Software Price Main Features
iMyFone TunesFix Around $40 for a 1-year license Recovers 40+ data types from iOS devices and iPods. Allows iPod touch-ups to fix software issues.
FonePaw iOS Data Recovery Around $70 for a lifetime license Scans and recovers lost iOS data. Has different recovery modes for lost iOS data, iTunes backup, and iCloud backup.
EaseUS MobiSaver Around $50 for a 1-year license Recovers deleted photos, messages, contacts, notes, and media files from iPods and iOS devices.

The general recovery process with these tools involves:

  1. Selecting your iPod model/generation during program setup.
  2. Scanning the iPod for recoverable media files once connected.
  3. Browsing the found data and selecting the music files to recover.
  4. Saving the recovered music to your computer or an external device.

Advanced iOS data recovery software provides the best chance of getting your music library back from an iPod that won’t sync properly. The process takes some time but can retrieve media and other files even from non-functioning devices.

Tips for easier iPod music recovery

Here are some tips to make sure you can easily get your music back when you need it:

  • Back up your iPod regularly – Sync it to iTunes often to have copies of your music files.
  • Keep iTunes installed – iTunes is required for official syncing and file transfers.
  • Don’t delete old music – Check that songs are copied from your iPod before deleting them from your library.
  • Manage sync issues – Reset the iPod and reconnect it if iTunes has trouble syncing.
  • Use original cables – Third party cables sometimes causes connection issues.
  • Troubleshoot hardware problems – Get internal hardware fixed instead of replacing non-functioning devices.

Following these tips will help avoid any issues that prevent you from getting your music library off your iPod when you eventually stop using it. Routinely backing up your iPod to iTunes is the best way to ensure you won’t lose media files.

Recovering music you purchased from iTunes

If you purchased music through the iTunes Store on your old iPod, you can recover these files again through iTunes even if you can’t sync the device.

To redownload purchased music:

  1. Open iTunes and go to Account > Purchased.
  2. Find the music purchases you want under the Search tab.
  3. Click the Download button next to songs to download them again.
  4. You can also download previous purchased albums and playlists.

As long as you use the same Apple ID, you can restore all the media you paid for on iTunes. This is often faster than trying to pull individual files off an old iPod.

What if I can’t recover my iPod music?

If your iPod is completely non-functional and you don’t have a backup of your music library, there is a small chance you may not be able to get your songs and albums off the device. This worst case scenario usually only occurs if the internal hard drive is damaged or corrupted.

If data recovery software can’t find or extract your files, a few options remain:

  • Consult a data recovery service – Pro services may be able to repair drives and recover some data for a high price.
  • Look for backups elsewhere – Do you have any old external drive or computer backups that may contain your library?
  • Attempt drive repairs – You can consult an expert to see if the damaged drive can be temporarily revived to pull data.
  • Repurchase lost music – As frustrating as it is, you may have to re-buy any music you can’t recover.

Prevent this worst case scenario by routinely backing up your iPod whenever you sync it. Also avoid tampering with it or attempting repairs yourself unless you are an expert.


Getting your music library off an old iPod is usually a straightforward process if you still have a functioning device. However, non-working models present some challenges and require data recovery software to extract media files.

To avoid any issues, remember to back up your iPod to iTunes periodically as you add new music. Before wiping your iPod for donation or recycling, double check that you’ve copied all the media files you want to keep. With proper backups, you should never lose your music to a dead iPod.