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iPod losing charge if connected to a sleeping Mac

iPod losing charge if connected to a sleeping Mac

A MacFixIt reader recently sent us a very thorough report on an issue that has occurred across several different iPods and a number of long conversations with AppleCare support representatives. The overall conclusion is that leaving an iPod in its dock (or, presumably, connected directly to a Mac via the dock/FireWire cable) while the Mac is asleep can drain the iPod's battery. Below are a few key excerpts from this reader report:

"After over a month's worth of troubleshooting with AppleCare technicians and two round trips to Apple Dispatch to fix a problem where my docked 30 gig iPod would fully discharge overnight while my QuickSilver G4 was in sleep mode, I finally got a tech to admit that there is indeed a 'known software issue' (or perhaps firmware, he wouldn't elaborate) that Apple is trying to fix.

"I dock my iPod and wait for iTunes and iSync to sync, after which I push Play/Pause to put the iPod to sleep and then use the Hold button to lock it down. As the iPod is docked and my Mac is awake, the display shows the charging animation. Later, when I put my Mac to sleep for the night, the iPod display goes blank, to indicate that the unit is still sleeping and but that it is no longer charging. The next morning (but not every morning!) I wake up my Mac and my iPod wakes up too. However, the iPod now displays the Apple logo, which means that it is starting up. [And also generally means that the battery has run down -Ed]. Once the iPod startup cycle finishes, I see a low battery icon, and realize that, once again, my iPod has discharged during sleep. (This occurs about once a week.)"

After talking to the reader about the problem, AppleCare serviced his iPod once, then eventually replaced it with a brand new model. The problem still occurred after each "fix." The reader also noted that even though Apple's documentation doesn't differentiate between charging the iPod using the dock/dock cable (FireWire) and using the AC adapter, an Apple Product Specialist claimed that there is a distinct difference:

"When the iPod is docked, it continues to drain the battery even if both the Mac and the iPod are in sleep mode -- this, the Product Specialist claimed, is due to the fact that an iPod is a Firewire device, and thus it will consume power at a greater rate than if it were not docked. He went on to state that a docked iPod recharges at a significantly slower rate than one connected directly to the AC Adapter, which makes some sense, but is apparently not documented."

Finally, the reader reports that even though Apple has apparently acknowledged this issue, they may be looking for more feedback from users in order to find a solution: "They seem to be a bit baffled by this issue and (at least according to the tech I spoke to today) are seeking more information from the iPod community."

If you've experienced similar issues with your iPod -- completely losing its charge if connected to a Mac in sleep mode -- drop us an email at

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