Tom Olzak

iPhone Tip – When iTunes crashes and you wish you’d bought a Blackberry

In iPhone on September 26, 2009 at 18:34

No, this isn’t a security post.  However, the level of frustration I felt over the past two days should never happen to anyone.  So I decided to put everything you need to know about dealing with drastic iPhone issues in one place.

It all started yesterday when I excitedly connected my iPhone 3GS to my office laptop to get the long-awaited-should-have-had-it-long-ago MMS update.  A funny thing happened, however.  I received a message immediately after iTunes loaded telling me that iTunes had stopped working.  And then that Apple-revenue-generating software simply closed.  I tried again with the same results.  I rebooted and retried.  Same results.  Ignoring the adage that the sign of insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting different results, I continued to connect and disconnect my iPhone so I could send my first photo to another phone.  No luck.

After I left the office, and my Windows XP SP2 laptop, I drove home and ran to my Windows 7 Ultimate desktop and plugged in my iPhone.  iTunes loaded long enough to display that dreaded message telling me that iTunes had stopped working.  Again, an iTunes crash and burn.  ARRGGH!

To verify that this was an iPhone issue, I plugged in my iPod Touch (yes, I am an uber geek).  It worked fine.  OK.  So now I knew that my iPhone, which I just purchased two months ago, was the problem.  On to Apple support.

There may have been something in one of the forums, but I couldn’t find it.  So I scheduled a call back for the next day at 5:45.  But I am not a patient man (I hope my boss isn’t reading this or there may be more confirmation of that fact than I can bear).

When I got up this morning, I immediately visited my old friend Google to see if anyone else was having this iTunes crash problem.  My search resulted in finding a significant number of people who were experiencing the same frustration as I.  However, there didn’t seem to be anyone who had actually fixed it.  One person wrote that removing my iPhone’s authorization for iTunes and putting it back would help.  Or that a master reset (holding the home and power buttons down, ignoring the shutdown slider, until the iPhone screen goes black) might work.  Neither worked for me.

But after about three frustrating hours—and many colorful remarks about Apple, AT&T, etc.—I found the fix.  Here it is:

  1. Load iTunes
  2. Turn off the iPhone
  3. Make sure the USB cable is unplugged from the iPhone
  4. Hold down the home button for three to five seconds
    1. Plug the USB cable into your iPhone
    2. Plug the USB cable into your computer
    3. After iTunes recognizes your iPhone, release the home button

This process places your iPhone in recovery mode.  iTunes informs you that a phone in recovery mode is connected.  Click the RESTORE button on the iTunes screen and sit back.  The iPhone will be set to factory defaults.  If a backup exists, iTunes will eventually prompt you for restore.  After the restore, you phone is in the same condition is was in prior to the service recovery, assuming you had a current backup.

This fixed my problem and I had my MMS functionality.

In closing, I will admit there is a little security associated with this story.  That is, the process to place the iPhone in recovery mode is the first step in cracking iPhone security.  I guess we can’t have everything, can we Steve?

  1. Thanks so much Tom

    I was trying everything when I came across this. Worked perfectly.

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