5th Gen iPod – USB Device Not Recognized – Solved

So I’ve had my video iPod for about a year now, I think, and it’s been great. I use it almost every day, watching videos at lunch to take my mind of work, which works a treat.

However, a few days ago, when I attempted to sync it on my desktop at home, my Windows XP box said “USB Device Not Recognized”. Odd, I thought. A quick google suggested that a reboot of both the device and the desktop would fix it, which it did.

Then it did it again at the end of last week, and despite numerous reboots and another load of googling, nothing has turned up to fix it. I even bought a different cable (@ £25) to make sure that wasn’t to blame.

So I plugged it in to my laptop this morning and guess what – it works. Weird. The USB ports on my computer do work, though. It’s just that the iPod and the desktop don’t seem to want to speak to each other.

So for the time being, I’m having to sync my iPod using my laptop which is reading my MP3s off my desktop. Bizarre. If anyone has any clues as to how to fix this, when the cable and the desktop and the iPod are clearly working, just not together, then please get in touch…


Ironic, really, that after numerous days of not being able to solve the problem, I solve it about 20 minutes after making this post. So, in the spirit of helping others who have run in to the same problem, I’ll explain what I tried that didn’t work, and what I did that made it work.

First off, I made sure it wasn’t the software by removing all versions of iTunes and the iPod software from my Windows XP machine, then rebooting. I then re-installed the latest version of iTunes and rebooted again for good measure. This made no difference.

I obtained another cable as by this point, I was assuming that the cable was causing the problem. But it made no difference.

I then tried using the iPod in another computer. I appreciate that many people don’t have 2 computers, but if you can find a friend, see whether your iPod and cable work in their computer (even just getting a message on their PC that says you’ll need to empty the contents of your iPod if you sync with a different computer is fine, as that proves your iPod does connect (but don’t empty your iPod, unless you really want to lose everything on it)).

At this point, I tested the USB ports in my computer, assuming that the ports were knackered as the iPod worked on my laptop but not in my desktop. But the USB ports in my desktop were all fine.

So, I had a working iPod, a working cable and a working desktop machine. What could be wrong?

I went through the steps documented on Apple’s web site, which made no difference. At this point, I was running out of ideas.

Then I noticed a common theme amongst some people. Their iPods had been working for up to a year, just like mine, then stopped working for no apparent reason. But there was a common reason and many people are not realising it. It’s a simple reason that’s difficult to explain or prove definitively, and here it is – you’ve installed a new piece of hardware that connects to your computer using USB, and for some reason it’s conflicting with your iPod.

I realised that I had installed 2 pieces of hardware in the past few months; a VOIP phone and a HP printer. I disconnected the VOIP phone, rebooted and no difference. I switched off the printer (which is effectively the same as unplugging it from the PC) and the iPod suddenly made a connection to the computer.

I rebooted the PC and connected the iPod again – and it still works.

So that’s it for me. I removed a USB device and that got the iPod working again. This means that I can’t use my printer and iPod at the same time; but to be honest, I have no need to do that.

If you’re in the same position as me, unable to determine why it stopped working and you’ve tried all the above steps, try unplugging as many of your USB devices as possible and see if that helps. If it does, just start plugging them back in one by one to determine which is the one that’s causing the conflict.


154 thoughts on “5th Gen iPod – USB Device Not Recognized – Solved

  1. i tried plugging in my ipod shuffle and USB device not recognised message pops up.how can i sync my music,i am using ipod shuffle for the first time so donot know how and what to do.can u help me out, if any answers mail it to monotosh.chakraborty269@gmail.com

  2. Thank you so much for this post! Same problem. Turned off my HP printer and my ipod started syncing in less than a minute.

  3. Hello. I have a 5th gen iPod video that my dad said I could keep if I can fix it. Originally, it worked for a long time after it was bought. But then the charging cord got really worn out, so we replaced it….with an ebay cord from Hong Kong. It never charged after that, and it was sorta forgotten. After a housecleaning, I got it out again and am troubleshooting like mad to no avail. I tried using my friend’s apple brand cord instead of the cheap one, but it still didn’t work. Here’s what happens: I plug it in via the charger cord (USB) on my laptop(I have no other usb devices attached, and my usb hub isn’t the problem). It displays the “Please Wait, Very Low Battery” screen for a minute or two, then powers on. My computer gives a “USB device not recognized” message, and I can’t see it in iTunes or “My Computer”. The iPod just stays on during this time, and eventually runs out of charge. (No charge icon on the ipod, just a very slim red line.
    Yes, I tried putting it in Disk mode. Still doesn’t connect or charge.
    Yes, I’ve reset it. Multiple times.
    Yes, I’ve cracked into it, disconnected everything, and then put it all back together. Still nothing, but at least I didn’t make it worse.
    Help would be really nice… I’m starting to think that it’s just shot. What a waist of 80 gbs…

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