iPod on Windows XP: Delayed Write Failed

Note: Be sure to read my Update to this post

When trying to update my shiny new iPod via iTunes on Windows XP, I kept getting the following error:
Delayed Write Failed
Windows was unable to save all the data for the file x. The data has been lost. This error may be caused by a failure of your computer hardware or network connection. Please try to save this file elsewhere.

The iPod would lockup and I’d have to reset it to get it to work again. After some research I found the cause: Write Caching was disabled on my hard disks. Because iTunes tries to push as much data as possible as quickly as possible, Windows was unable to keep up, resulting in the error.

To enable Write Caching on your hard disks:

Start > Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Disk Drives > Properties > Policies > Enable Disk Caching

Note that this option was unavailable to me (grayed out), and after some research I realized it was because I had the Intel Application Accelerator installed, which turns OFF write caching and prevents you from enabling it. So after a quick uninstall of Intel Application Accelerator and a quick reboot, I was able to enable Write Caching on my hard disks, and now the error is gone and my iPod is updating as expected.

22 responses to “iPod on Windows XP: Delayed Write Failed”

  1. Tim M. says:

    That’s really intereresting. I have a disabled policies tab and Intel Application Accelerator installed, and disk caching was permanently fixed to ON, the opposite of what you indicated. Disk caching can improve performance maginally; therefore, it makes more sense that it would lock the policies tab with disk caching enabled, if indeed that is what locked the page. I’ll have to uninstall IAA and see what happens though. Thanks.

  2. Tim M. says:

    Indeed, Intel Application Accelerator does remove the “enable write caching on the disk” check box just below the two removable drive options above it. Those two “removable drive” options are naturally”greyed out” because hard drives are by convention not “removable .”

    The confusion arises when IAA is already installed, and the policies page only shows two disabled options with “optimize for performance” ticked on. One can easily and incorrectly think that the disk caching has been permanently enabled.

    Perhaps Microsoft can update the policies page with this information to prevent this annoyance for its customers.

    I would be interested in knowing what the registry key is that controls the appearance of that “enable write caching on the disk” option on the policies page.

    Thanks, your webpage solved my problem.

  3. RMStringer says:

    I am as of this night, 6.28.2005 @ 11.06pm EST, VERY displese with the IPOD. I have had nothing but a load of crap trying to get this thing to work properly. I get the Delayed write failed sign from win XP PRo on this IPOD device. I got that one before when i used an external 80 gig firewire drive. Except that the drive was 2 years old and the IPOD is 4 hours old. What a crock!! Thankx for letting me rant and rave tonight.

  4. Burton says:

    Done good. Didn’t work for me but thanks for the effort champ, its past midnight and i am roooooted.

  5. Troy says:


    I realized that I hadn’t used the original cord that had come with the ipod shuffle.
    I was using a cord I had purchased a few weeks after getting my ipod and had already loaded my cds on my computer and filled the ipod.

    It’s the after market or non-apple cord that causes this… I bought a different cord so that I could charge my ipod as I played it with my stereo.

    When I wanted to change the music this time, {it had been about 6 months since} , I just naturally used the new dock I had bought and coincedentally there was an update for the ipod when I synced up.

    There is something wrong, apparently with older cords or non apple cords that the copper wiring doesn’t work well with large amounts of data being sent over them so it causes the ipod to get the dreaded DELAYED WRITE FAILED message, and you are left with no option but to try restoring and starting over. ERROR 1439, will appear many times while restoring for the same reason.

    Now that I went and took out the original dock that came in the ipod shuffle case I have no issues at all !!!!

    Pass this on if it helps anyone! thanks

  6. Eric says:

    Thank you very much for this, I was about to take my new 80G iPod to the Apple store and raise some hell. Cheers!

  7. Max says:

    I hve the sme issue of delay write failed i dnt hve the IAA installed on my pc but it has greyed out the areas aswell but they are stuck on ON for caching i also replaced my cable to a newer one and im still having the same issue is anyone able to help??

  8. Mike says:

    Actually the issue is a corrupt hard drive. Even if you format it with windows it leaves the bad partition.Stop all ipod and apple services. Put the IPOD in disk mode and use a low level format utility to format the IPOD. Then use windows to format it again, start up the services and it will find the ipod and ask you to restore it. I fought this for the last 3 days and saw that people were getting this from HD’s too and that a re-partion of low level format of the drive fixed it. Figured I would try that since it was toast.

  9. Jeremy says:

    Thank you so much Mike. The low level formatting worked superbly. I used HDD Low Level Formattool. its free to download. i dont remember the link but i reccomend it. I leave on vacation tomorrow and was freakign out about not having an ipod. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  10. Kevyn says:

    Tried it Mike, didn’t work. still had the delayed write fail…

  11. Erik says:

    I have the same irritation as all of you but I have one problem when I open my DiskDrive Properties there is no Policies tab:O
    Can someone please help me or I’m gonna throw my Ipod at someone

  12. Ashley says:

    Thanks! sorted me no bother!!!!!

  13. Kris says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!My ipod has been down for so long and my dad wasnt going to buy me another after i told him mine wasnt working. Ive been trying to fix this thing for months. I nearly cried when this worked! Thanks again.

  14. abhishek says:

    thanks thanks thanks a lot…..this helped me.
    a lot of thanks to u guys.

  15. Dan says:

    Thanks A TON!!!

  16. eppy says:

    what worked for me was to bypass my usb hub and plug directly into the computer but you guys led me there


  17. Mike says:

    Mike you are amazing! Saved me from buying a new Ipod. Thank you so much, worked like a charm!

  18. Jon says:

    Didn’t work, still got the error. Why does it give me an error while low-level formatting?

  19. Ian says:

    Spot on mate, 80g classic ipod hdd was corrupted. I think I had connected it with the lock on and when it didn’t respond i pulled it out and caused the damage.

  20. Geoff says:

    After days of write delay errors…. Followed Mikes instructions to the letter. I used HDD Low Level Formattool, then formatted the ipod through my computer also, ran a disk check, pulgged in the ipod, itunes did a restore of the ipod, and back to normal. Thanks Mike.

  21. Jorge says:

    Thanks for the recomendation. I used HDD Low Level Formattool, free to download. My Ipod works ! NO error in my computer and itunes.

  22. stevoh2003 says:

    Well after over 6hours trying to get itunes to see my ipod I finally done it. I used hard disk low level format tool I downloaded free. It took about 2 hours to format my ipod. When I turned on itunes it saw the f ing thing lol. Filling it up with sounds as I write this. I hate I tunes with a passion. Anyway thats this bottle of red finished I think I’ll open another. Thanks for the help everyone xxx