Restoring an iPhone using iTunes is a common way to fix various iOS issues, reset the device, or prepare it for resale. However, the restore process doesn’t always go smoothly, and you may encounter error codes or messages indicating the restoration failed.
One of the more common restore errors is the ambiguous iTunes error 4013. This error typically appears with a “The iPhone could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (4013)” message during the restore process. While error 4013 could indicate different underlying problems, it generally points to an issue with the firmware file, USB connection, or hardware problem with the iPhone itself.
Fortunately, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to resolve error 4013 and successfully restore your iPhone using iTunes. This guide will outline the major causes of error 4013 and provide fixes to help you finally restore your iPhone.
What Causes Error 4013?
Error 4013 during an iTunes restore often stems from one of these issues:
- Corrupt or incomplete IPSW firmware file
- Problem with USB connection/cable
- Outdated iTunes version
- Issues with iPhone hardware
Let’s take a closer look at each potential cause and how to fix it.
Corrupt IPSW Firmware File
The most common trigger for error 4013 is a corrupted or incomplete IPSW firmware file that iTunes uses to restore the iPhone. The firmware contains critical software and data needed to reset the iPhone back to factory settings.
If this firmware file is damaged or missing key components, you’ll likely see error 4013 when you start the restore in iTunes. To fix this:
- Download the IPSW file again from Apple’s servers. Get the exact IPSW firmware file for your specific iPhone model and iOS version.
- Before restoring, quit and relaunch iTunes to clear any cached firmware data.
- Try restoring again using the freshly downloaded firmware.
USB/Lightning Cable Issues
Since the iPhone connects to iTunes via USB and a Lightning cable, any issues with this physical connection can also trigger a 4013 error.
Try the following USB and cable troubleshooting steps:
- Use a different USB port on your computer.
- Switch to a brand new Lightning cable.
- Directly connect your iPhone to a rear motherboard USB port.
- Remove any USB hubs, adapters, or extensions.
If you still get the 4013 error, the USB connection is likely not the cause.
Outdated iTunes Version
While rare, issues with iTunes itself could lead to error 4013 appearing during an iPhone restore. Specifically, an outdated version of iTunes may be incompatible with the latest iOS firmware.
To rule out iTunes problems:
- Check for iTunes updates and install the latest version.
- Try restoring on a different computer with the newest iTunes.
If you no longer see error 4013, you know the issue was the iTunes version.
Underlying iPhone Hardware Problem
Finally, the 4013 error may point to a hardware fault with the iPhone itself, especially if you still get the error after trying all other troubleshooting. Hardware issues like a faulty logic board, bad NAND flash storage, or damaged connectors could prevent a successful restore.
You’ll need to inspect the iPhone hardware more closely or take it to an Apple Store or repair shop. A hardware issue that generates error 4013 will likely need a component repair or replacement to truly fix.
Top 8 Ways to Fix Error 4013
Now that you understand what’s generally behind error 4013, here are the top ways to troubleshoot and fix it to restore your iPhone successfully:
1. Try a Different USB Port and Cable
As mentioned, many 4013 errors stem from USB or Lightning cable issues. As a quick first step, try using different USB ports and cables to rule out any connection problems:
- Switch USB ports – use a port directly on the rear motherboard if possible.
- Try a brand new Lightning cable.
- Remove any adapters, hubs, or extensions from the USB cable.
2. Update to the Latest iTunes Version
While less likely, an outdated iTunes version could lead to error 4013. Check for and install any available iTunes updates:
- On Windows, go to Help > Check for Updates
- On Mac, go to iTunes > Check for Updates
Use the newest iTunes version before trying to restore again.
3. Download New IPSW Firmware File
As noted, many 4013 errors stem from a corrupted IPSW firmware file. Follow these steps to download a clean, new IPSW file:
- Go to ipsw.me and enter your iPhone model to find the latest iOS firmware file.
- Right-click the IPSW link and select Save Link As/Download Linked File to download the firmware.
- Save the IPSW file somewhere easy to access, like your Desktop.
4. Enter Recovery Mode and Restore
From recovery mode, you can force iTunes to fully wipe and reload the iPhone firmware without booting up iOS:
- With the iPhone connected, hold Power + Home for 10+ seconds until you see the recovery mode screen.
- In iTunes, hold Shift and click Restore iPhone.
- Browse to and select the IPSW firmware file you downloaded.
- The restore will now run from recovery mode with the new IPSW.
5. Try a Different Computer and iTunes
As a further test, attempt to restore your iPhone on another computer with the latest iTunes version installed:
- Use a computer that has never synced or connected to your iPhone before.
- Download iTunes if needed and allow it to update.
- Download the correct IPSW for your device.
- Connect iPhone and restore using the new computer.
If error 4013 persists on multiple computers, it likely points to a deeper hardware or firmware issue with that specific iPhone unit.
6. Factory Reset the iPhone
A full factory reset may allow you to bypass error 4013 and successfully restore. Note this will erase all data:
- Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
- Enter your passcode if prompted.
- Tap through to fully reset the iPhone to factory defaults.
- Run through the setup process until you can try restoring via iTunes again.
7. Contact Apple Support
If all else fails, reach out to Apple Support for further assistance with error 4013:
- From your iOS device, open the Apple Support app and select Get Support.
- On the web, go to Contact Apple Support and select iPhone > Restoring.
- Chat or speak to a support advisor about error 4013 and restoring your device.
Apple may be able to provide specific help for your restore issue.
8. Take the iPhone to Apple or a Repair Shop
For persistent 4013 errors even after working with Apple Support, you will likely need to take your iPhone to an Apple Store or repair shop for inspection. The error may indicate a deeper hardware fault requiring repair or replacement of components like the logic board, connectors, or storage chips.
Apple itself or an experienced repair tech should be able to properly diagnose and resolve a tricky 4013 issue related to your iPhone’s hardware.
iTunes error 4013 certainly can be frustrating, but don’t give up hope. In many cases, this error can be fixed with simple troubleshooting using the steps outlined above.
Be sure to try different cables, USB ports, and computers to rule out connection issues. Downloading a fresh IPSW firmware file from Apple often resolves the problem as well.
For persistent 4013 errors, you may need to reset the iPhone, work with Apple Support, or take the device in for service to address underlying hardware faults. But in the majority of cases, a little patience and working through potential software causes will get your iPhone restored properly.