Restoring an iPhone can be a tedious process that requires your phone to be connected to a computer and left alone for an extended period of time. With how reliant many of us are on our phones these days, being without one for that long can be a challenge. It’s understandable that interruptions occasionally happen during an iPhone restore. But what actually happens if the restore process gets interrupted?
Why Does the iPhone Need to be Restored?
There are a few main reasons why you may need to restore your iPhone:
- You’re experiencing software issues or bugs that can’t be resolved otherwise
- You want to wipe the device and start fresh
- You need to remove the activation lock
- Your device is just running slowly and restoring it can help improve performance
The restore process erases all of the data and settings on your iPhone and installs the latest iOS software. It brings your device back to factory settings, giving you a clean slate. Performing a restore requires connecting the iPhone to a computer with iTunes (for older devices) or Finder (for newer devices) and allowing the software to download the iOS firmware and walk you through the restore steps.
What Gets Interrupted?
If the restore process is interrupted before completion, depending on at what stage the interruption occurs, it could interrupt:
- Downloading the firmware file
- Verifying the firmware
- Extracting software
- Restoring iPhone software
- Updating and restoring iPhone settings and data
The steps that are the most sensitive to interruption are downloading, verifying, and extracting the iOS firmware. The process of restoring the firmware and settings can also be interrupted. Basically, any point from initiating the restore to the iPhone rebooting back up with factory settings is sensitive.
What Causes the Interruption?
There are a few common causes of interruptions to the restore process:
- Disconnecting the USB cable – If the USB cable connecting the iPhone to the computer disconnects, it will interrupt the restore.
- Allowing the screen to lock – If the iPhone screen locks during the restore, it can cause an interruption.
- Computer errors – If the computer encounters an error and has to restart, it will disrupt the restore.
- Force quitting iTunes/Finder – Intentionally force quitting the iTunes or Finder software can interrupt the process.
- Antivirus software – Some antivirus software might detect the iOS firmware as a threat and attempt to block it.
- User interruption – You may accidentally unplug the device or computer, or intentionally stop the restore process.
The most common reasons for interruptions come down to disconnecting the iPhone from the computer, allowing the iPhone to lock its screen during the process, and errors causing the computer to reboot. Make sure connections are secure, disable auto-lock, and close other demanding software when restoring to avoid disruptions.
Effects of Interrupting the Restoration
The effects of interrupting an iPhone restore can vary depending on at what point the process was disrupted:
- During firmware download – The firmware file becomes corrupted. You’ll need to delete it from the computer and start the download over.
- During firmware verification – Likewise, a disruption during verification can corrupt the firmware. Delete it and restart.
- During extraction – Interrupting the process of extracting the iOS software from the firmware file can lead to errors installing it on the iPhone. Starting over is recommended.
- During iPhone restore – At this point, interrupting the installation of iOS can leave your iPhone in recovery mode, requiring you to connect and restore again.
- During iPhone update – If interrupted while updating post-restore, your iPhone may become bricked or get stuck at the Apple logo.
In general, interruptions early on in the process will require starting the download over to avoid data corruption. Later interruptions during the actual restoration and update leave the iPhone in need of being connected and restored again. In some rare cases, the interruption can brick the device altogether. But this is an uncommon worst-case scenario with standard restore interruptions.
What to Do If iPhone Restore is Interrupted
Here are the steps to take for troubleshooting an interrupted iPhone restore:
- Delete any corrupted firmware files from the computer if the interruption was during download or verification.
- Close iTunes or Finder completely and restart the computer.
- Connect the iPhone to the computer again. You may need to put the iPhone in recovery mode first.
- Open iTunes or Finder and initiate the restore process from the beginning.
- If the iPhone is stuck in recovery mode with a connection error, you may need to hard reset it and then restore.
- Avoid disconnecting the USB and let the entire uninterrupted restore process complete.
The key things to keep in mind are deleting any corrupted files, closing and restarting any open programs, putting the iPhone in recovery if needed, and making sure no interruptions happen during the subsequent attempt. Be patient and let the full restore process take place without disconnecting.
Best Practices for Avoiding Interruptions
Here are some best practices you can follow to help avoid interruptions when restoring your iPhone:
- Use a high quality Lightning or USB-C cable and directly connect to a rear motherboard USB port.
- Disable auto-lock so the iPhone screen stays active during the restore.
- Close all other apps and software during the process.
- Disable antivirus software or create exclusions for iTunes/Finder.
- Disconnect other USB devices to avoid port issues.
- Restart computer before restoring to clear any memory issues.
- Remain nearby to monitor the process and react to any errors.
- Do not force quit any programs or disconnect devices when restoration begins.
The key things that cause interruptions are poor cabling, auto-lock, and computer issues. Address these areas before starting and monitor the process closely. Stay nearby until the restore completes fully.
Understanding iPhone Recovery Mode
If your iPhone gets interrupted while restoring, you may need to put it into recovery mode to get it working again. Here are some key things to understand about recovery mode:
- Enters recovery mode when restoration goes wrong, holding Power + Home buttons.
- Shows connect to iTunes/Finder screen when in recovery mode.
- Allows restarting the restore process from the interrupted point.
- Will be detected by iTunes/Finder for restoring when connected.
- Shows Restore button on computer screen while iPhone is in recovery.
- Gets wiped and restored from recovery mode state when restore initiated.
The recovery mode screen looks like the connect to iTunes logo on a black background. It lets iTunes or Finder recognize the issue and kickstart a restoration from that state to get iPhone booted up properly again.
Can You Recover Data After Interrupted Restore?
If your iPhone restoration was interrupted, is the data still recoverable?
Unfortunately, no. When the iPhone restoration begins, all of the data and content on your device gets completely wiped out. Interrupting the process doesn’t reverse that initial wipe. And restoring replaces the operating system and firmware of the iPhone.
So there is no way to recover your photos, messages, notes, and other personal data that was erased at the start of the failed restore attempt.
This underscores the importance of always having a full backup of your iPhone before initiating a restore. Then you can recover your data afterwards by syncing the new restored iPhone with that backup.
Should You Restore From Backup After Interruption?
After you have successfully completed the interrupted restore process, should you then restore an old backup?
Whether or not to immediately restore your backup depends on:
- If you need the data right away. Restore from backup if urgent.
- If you want to set up the iPhone as new. Skip restoring backup for now.
- If you have enough iCloud storage space for remote restore.
- If you want to choose specific data to restore.
There’s no technical need to immediately restore your last backup after the iPhone returns to normal. It becomes more of a personal choice based on if you need that data quickly.
You can always restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup later on. Or set up the iPhone as new and manually sync over only certain data that you need right away.
Tips for A Successful iPhone Restore
Here are some top tips for completing a successful iPhone restoration without interruptions:
- Update computer and iTunes/Finder to latest versions.
- Use a USB cable shorter than 6 feet for best transfer speed.
- Quit all other apps during the restore process.
- Disable Find My and passcodes which can prompt disconnections.
- Select Restore rather than Update when given option.
- Remain in the vicinity to address any errors immediately.
- Make sure iPhone battery level is at least 50% before starting.
- If interrupted, delete the firmware file and restart computer.
Follow those tips and you give yourself the best shot at a smooth, uninterrupted iPhone restoration. Just be patient, eliminate sources of disruption, and let the process run unimpeded until completion.
Having your iPhone restoration interrupted can range from a minor inconvenience to a serious issue, depending on when in the process the disruption occurs. The best bet is being proactive ahead of time to minimize disruptions.
Update computer and iPhone software, use quality cables, disable locks and passcodes, close other apps, and monitor the process closely. Entering recovery mode can get it back on track if interrupted. And make sure you have a current backup before restoring!
Overall, interruptions are best avoided. But if they occur, stay calm, reboot devices, delete corrupted files, and retry the restore until successful. Patience and care will get your iPhone back up and running properly again.