iPhone and iPad

12 Most Common iPod Sync Problems & How to Fix Them

Angela Randall 03-02-2011

Are you having iPod sync problems?  Does iTunes keep giving you a weird error number that you don’t understand?  Have you searched through many an iPod/iTunes forum looking for answers and yet still don’t know what’s wrong? Yeah, I’ve been there before. I know it well.


The most frustrating thing is to wade through idea after idea, gradually considering the XYZ things you might need to do just to get your iPod to sync. You think there has to be an easier way. Surely someone at iTunes had this version of iPod and used XP too? Surely they didn’t have to resort to registry hacking to fix this? Well, we can hope. In the meantime, here’s a compiled list of the most common iPod sync problems and the easiest steps you can take to work out how to fix them. Hopefully it will have you sorted out in no time.

1. Back Up Before You Try Anything

It’s advised that you do an iTunes backup and an iPod/iPhone backup before you try any fixes.

2. Are You New To iPods?

If you’ve never had an iPod before, quickly check this basic user guide to make sure you know how it’s supposed to be syncing.

3. Restore & Update

iTunes encourage users to restore and update their iPods if there are any sync problems. Often your problem can be resolved easily this way, so give it a go. Connect your iPod, open iTunes, then choose “Check for update” to ensure you have the latest version of the software.

To back up your iPod, Right-Click (or CTRL-Click) your device in iTunes when connected and choose “Back Up“.


4. Beware Of Applications Which Change Computer Appearance

Skins and other appearance-changing software can have undesired consequences with iTunes, so try uninstalling them. You might find a quick fix to your problems!

5. Enable Disc Use

This might help if you’ve seen any of the following errors:

  • Unknown iPod Error (-50).
  • An unknown error occurred (-50)
  • The iPod cannot be synced. The required disk cannot be found.

These errors occur a lot under Windows XP and are often fixed by enabling disk use on your iPod.

You need to click “enable disc use” then “apply” really quickly. Then you need to do something to make XP recognise the drive ASAP. The easiest way is to have Device Manager open and ready, then click “Scan For Hardware Changes” or “Add New Hardware“.


ipod sync problems

6. Deselect Music Sync / Deselect Voice Memo Sync

You may be able to pinpoint the problem by deselecting various sync checkboxes (eg. Voice Memo or Music Sync) before attempting a sync.

7. Try Syncing With A New Admin Account

Create a new admin account on your machine, open iTunes (which will be a new library), then attempt to sync your iPod with this new library. If it works, you can at least eliminate hardware conflicts and iPod failure. It is likely to be a problem with the library, a corrupt file you’re trying to transfer or a program automatically running in your normal profile.

8. Run Disc Utility / Repair Disc / Error Checking

It might be the case that your iPod needs to have the disc repaired. Make sure the iPod is set to “enable disc use” but not to start iTunes when plugged in, then shut iTunes and eject the iPod. When you re-connect, run Disc Utility / Repair Disc on the iPod. Then try syncing in iTunes – you might have to run Repair Disc again.


Also try going to the iPod in My Computer. Right click and choose Properties > Tools > Error Checking.

ipod sync problems

9. Fix Digital Signing Of Windows Drivers

This might be required if you’ve seen one of the following errors:

  • The iPod could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (-124 , 1418, 1429, 1430, 1436 or 1439).

It’s possible that your registry files have been corrupted in some way. So, iTunes have written out the content of a batch file for you to create and run. Don’t forget to back up first! They also suggest doing a virus check afterwards just in case that was what caused your problem in the first place.


10. Verify MobileMe Settings

To verify your MobileMe settings are correct, ensure your Internet connection is working then connect for a sync. If it’s not syncing (or has finished) check that the MobileMe contacts and calendar data is correct. Also check your MobileMe email as that will let you know if your password is correctly entered. Then click on “fetch new data” and ensure push is turned “ON”.

11. Corrupt Files and Hardware Conflicts

Have you seen “sync error -69”?

Every now and then, you might find a corrupt MP3 file or photo in your collection. If that happens, iTunes will throw an error message at you, but not necessarily explain why. Check to see if you can pinpoint a particular song it’s trying to transfer. Or, try deleting your photo cache. Note, this could also be caused by a hardware conflict.

12. It Might Just Be iTunes

Don’t forget that it might just be a problem with iTunes itself. Try going through these iTunes fixes 10 Top iTunes Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks Read More to see if you can get your iTunes working properly.

More on iTunes

If you love iTunes, here’s some more articles for you to read:

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Related topics: iPod, iPod Touch, iTunes.

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  1. asdff
    August 31, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Wow! This is a really bad guide.

  2. Chase Vandiver
    February 4, 2011 at 12:35 am

    "If you love iTunes" lol