Problems updating to iOS 5? Here's what you need to know


October 13, 2011

iPhone and iPod users have reported a variety of problems when trying to upgrade to iOS5 (Photo: Apple)

iPhone and iPod users have reported a variety of problems when trying to upgrade to iOS5 (Photo: Apple)

The latest version of Apple's iOS left many iPod and iPhone users shaking their heads when they tried to upgrade. Problems ranged from lengthy downloads of the new iOS from iTunes, to some users who had been left with bricked phones and erased contacts after the update. Others complained that their paid apps had been wiped from their phones, and not restored when they did get iOS up and running.

On a personal level, about 50-percent of my iPhone-using friends experienced severe problems, the most common of which was a bricked phone. Those that did get the update still experienced issues with paid apps not showing up ready for download in iTunes. Those with bricked phones were forced to do a factory reset, and lost all of their contacts, saved notes, photos and videos.

The first signs of trouble began popping up on Twitter and in forums about an hour after the release of iOS 5.

Here's a quick rundown of the most common problems users are reporting, and a fix, if one exists.

"Internal Error 3200"

This is an error message that pops up during the iOS 5 upgrade process that indicates Apple's authentication servers aren't responding.

The fix: This problem has mostly fixed itself. The problem originated from the entire world trying to download the new iOS right as it had launched. Apple has opened up new server space, and the demand is dying off slowly due to reports of problems.

"Error -34"

If you get this error, it's iTunes reporting to the Apple server that you are out of disk space. As some of you have figured out, this may not be the case.

The fix: There isn't one just yet, but it was discovered that the problem originates mostly with users who compress their files to 128Kbps so that they can fit more music on their iPod. When upgrading, it seems that the file size is being reverted to the uncompressed form. Apple is aware of the issue.

"Error 1603"

Although the cause of this error is unknown, it's supposed to put your device into recovery mode shortly after you see it. It's not doing that in all cases with this new update. This is what most users refer to as a "bricked" iPhone or iPod touch.

The fix: You'll have to put your phone into forced recovery mode. You stand a good chance of losing stored data as your phone recovers. This is why it's always a good idea to make a backup of your data before doing a new iOS install.

Putting your iPhone or iPod Touch into forced recover mode

Disconnect the USB cable from the device, but leave the other end connected to the USB port on your computer.

Turn off the device by holding down the Sleep/Wake button. A red slider will appear next. Slide the slider and then wait as the device shuts off. If holding the power button doesn't turn off the device, press the Sleep/Wake button and the home button at the same time until the device powers down. Don't release the Sleep/Wake button or the home button until the device is off.

Press and hold the Home button while reconnecting the USB cable to the iPhone. Once the device is connected, it should begin to power on. Don't release the Home button.

Continue to hold the Home button until the "Connect to iTunes" screen appears. Release the button.

If iTunes doesn't open automatically, open it manually. You should see the "recovery alert" pop up.

Follow the prompts and allow iTunes to restore the iPhone or iPod touch.

Ed's note: if any readers have some tips to add to the list we'd love to hear about them in the comments section.


must be why I use wos on my palm and hp tablet,, and yes I still get laid

Bill Bennett

A week or 3 back, everyone in my house (4 different people) had their apple ID accounts \"blocked\" - is it just us, or has apple done a customer-wide lockout of some customers? (possibly everyone who chose dumb passwords, or maybe apple got hit with a dictionary attack similar to sony, but hasn\'t confessed?)


I don\'t understand how people can lose all their contacts, messages, apps, photos, etc when everything should be back up on their computer. Connecting to the computer and clicking Synch in iTunes should put everything back.

Frank Woolf

Frank, I can only guess that people didn\'t do a sync with their phones before installing the new OS and may have lost some non synched info. Not a smart move in any case. Hopefully these troubles will be brief.

Bruce Sherman

I have literally been trying to update my phone since 11:15 pm the night iOS was released. For over 48 hours now I have been starting and stopping the update due to it not moving past around 4% of the backup process. I backed my phone up again today to see if it would speed up the process but it has not worked. I have called 1800MYIPHONE twice and spoken to two people who have been helpful but we can\'t seem to get anything solved. It just seems that it wants to do nothing but backup. I know the servers have been slemmed but my phone has literally spent a minimum of five hours plgged in at a time to update and nothing. I plugged it in again last night for the fourth time at 12:15 am and woke up at 8 with just that 4%. Left it plugged in until noon and no further movement. If anyone has any ideas please help. I have not recieved a single error message or lost any data at this point. It just won\'t dp anything. Thanks for the ideas if you have any.

Nigel Cammack

Sync/backup your phone FIRST.

Apple recommends rebooting after installing new iTunes & Lion updates. Disconnecting other USB equipment. Turning off security, etc.

Be very, very careful signing up for iCloud. This will likely be a \'no\' if you have MobileMe. Really wish they had explained that first before you update.

Be prepared to lose all of your mail. Maybe I\'m doing something wrong in my iTunes set-up?

I eventually did the install off a HD equipped with OSX 10.6. This creates other problems.

Outgoing mail didn\'t work. Had to go back into Settings and re-enter the server and password.


Having the phone require a factory reset doesn\'t constitute a \"bricked\" phone, at least not where I am from. A bricked phone means that it is dead to the world, gone and never coming back, hence only good to be used as a brick. This is the term mostly used when people are messing around with firmware tweaks/hacks/etc. that leave the phone completely devoid of any chance of functioning again (not that it requires a simple reset to work normally...)

James Davis

Exactly, Frank.

People who like to save time by skipping obvious precautions also tend to whine when they have to face the consequences of that decision.

The backup takes a little time, but it can save you a lot of grief...not to mention sparing everyone else having to hear about it. :)


In my experience doing the sort of major system upgrade that appears to be going on here wipes the phone completely. So just plugging it back in just isn't enough to get the results you require. It's not just like downloading an app or a normal update. It Appears to be a once in a lifetime event for a phone. It seems to be just the same as having a brand new phone that has no association to your computer just like pugging a friends phone into your computer

I'm specifically addressing Frank's observation. I am willing to be corrected her so please feel free.

Before you do the upgrade do a major back up which means plugging in the phone going to device in the iTunes window (below Devices), Control-click the device, and then select "Back up". Once this is done It's always good to encrypt the back up.

Then go about downloading and updating the phone. At some stage one of the options will offer the restore from backup, and this is the one to take.

I know this wont rectify everyones issues with the phone and I may be way off the mark, so if I am let me know and if it helps also let me know



My phone is now bricked after trying to update again!! That is every update I have tried to apply to my phone - why bother you may ask, I wanted to try the new iColoud App. 50% of your friends have had a bricked phone, I thought Apple were industry leaders, but can\'t get a simple update program to work for ALL there major devices.

Craig Wolfenden

Believe it when I say that this OS upgrade can brick a phone. It happened to mine 3 days ago and the issue has still not been resolved.

The backup of my data that I made prior does me absolutely no good if I can\'t get the phone to boot. It\'s stuck in restore mode, but won\'t restore. iTunes just keeps telling me that \"an unknown error has occurred (1)\", that it\'s detected an iPhone in restore mode, and the phone will need to be restored. Same loop, over and over.

I\'ve tried everything that apple suggests, and tried restoring DFU mode, but to no avail. If I kick it out of restore mode I get an Apple logo, then the shut down circle, and then that loop continues forever.

I\'m stuck with a $200.00 brick, and Apple wants to charge me for support. Whatever, I\'ll pay an early out on my contract and buy an HTC Evo first. I\'ve been an apple fan for 10 years but this is the most unhappy I\'ve ever been with them. Just fix the problem that your upgrade caused or give me a new phone, simple...


I had the inability to send/receive text messages. I was on the phone with AT&T who told me it was an Apple software problem and they had made Apple aware of the issue. I spent more than an hour at the Apple Store with a \"genius\" and all he could do was wipe my phone and reset it to factory default. I lost all contacts (that weren\'t synced through MobileMe), pictures I\'d taken on my iPhone, all my text messages and text history and apps. He warned that if I restored the phone from the last back-up (which included the iOS5 update) I would likely experience the same problem.

As is so often the case - Apple rushes to get something out before the bugs are worked out and then they drag their heels admitting mistakes/issues before valuable/loyal customers pay the price with lost data.


R. Derrick Thomas

I downloaded the iOS5 on my iphone 3GS on Oct 25, and the error message I got on my iphone was \"Your iphone could not be activated because the activation server is temporarily unavailable. Try connecting your iphone to iTunes to activate it, or try again in a couple of minutes. If this problem persists, contact Apple support at support.\" Then at the same time, the error message on iTunes was \"There is no Sim Card on your iphone, insert a valid sim card and try again\" This happened when my sim card was there all along and was working fine up to the last minute before the iOS5 update. Then I started reading discussion forums seeking for a solution but to no avail. I called Apple Support and they wanted to charge me CAD$35 before I can proceed to ask for help. Having read that other people had already called Apple Support and spent hours at their genius bar with no solution in sight, of course I didn\'t want to throw my $$ into the trash. Then I read that one user tried the unplug and replug, hard reset to factory default for a couple of times, and finally for some unknown reason, he finally got through and his phone activated. So I tried the same thing over and over for more than 12 hours, and still it didn\'t work. I finally gave up and visited one of the local cell phone fixing stores yesterday, left it with them and see if they can find a way to salvage my bricked iphone. I have yet to hear from them, wish me luck. To Apple, I\'m starting to feel sick of you, after reading so many different forums and seeing so many apple fans getting frustrated, you\'re still turning your deaf ears to these issues and still not doing anything. At a minimum, you should pull back the iOS5 or warn people not to go through the upgrade until you\'ve find a solution to the bricked phone problem, but you\'re actually doing the reverse. I kept getting promotional emails from you prompting us to get the iOS5 to get the fancy new features, when all that while, thousands, or perhaps millions of apple users were already fuming about their bricked iphones. How responsible a market leader you are! I was thinking about getting an iPad 2 for myself this Christmas but now this is absolutely out of the question!!

apple fan no more

Because you already heard about the iPad 3, right? And you\'re just holding out for it.

Michael Barreto

I had no significant issues in upgrading to IOS 5 and also the update 5.0.1 on my iPhone 3GS. The first time I tried, the download was sluggish so I quit, waited a day and tried again. It worked OK the second time I did find I needed patience, however. It rebooted my iPhone at least twice. When it was done, I found all of my settings, apps, contacts etc. intact. Nothing was lost. I wonder if any of those having problems, created them by interrupting the update when they thought nothing was happening? I did notice a few periods in which it appeared nothing was going on, but I just ignored it and let it churn. My phone is working fine.


I like upgraded to iOS5.1 and had NO problems with my iPod Touch3G, everything works perfectly. It took a long time as it is a 32GB model w/about 7GB free. I just setup the install and walked away for awhile. What\'s that old saying: Time is a virtue or something like that? I use a no contract phone, cheaper than any contract using an iPhone or whatever, and I don\'t walk with my head up my butt using a phone like 99% of iPhone or any contract phone user of. It\'s a fone for chrissakes!!

Richard Edmonds

50%!! -- must be something in the water. I had no problem and don't even know of any one person that did. Just lucky I guess.

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