What happens when iPhone restore doesn’t work?

Common reasons iPhone restore fails

There are a few common reasons why an iPhone restore may fail or not complete successfully:

Corrupt or incomplete iOS firmware file

The iOS firmware file that you downloaded to restore your iPhone could be corrupted or incomplete. This prevents the full firmware from being installed during the restore process. Try re-downloading the latest firmware file for your iPhone model from Apple’s servers and attempt the restore again.

Hardware failure

If your iPhone has experienced any hardware failures, such as issues with the logic board, RAM, or storage, this can prevent a restore from completing properly. You may need to have your device inspected and repaired by an Apple technician or authorized service provider.

Incorrect or interrupted restore process

It’s important to follow all the steps for an iPhone restore exactly as directed and allow the process to complete without interruption. Powering off the iPhone or disconnecting it during the restore can corrupt the firmware and cause the restore to fail. Ensure your iPhone has sufficient battery and try the restore again fully.

Jailbroken iPhone

If your iPhone has been jailbroken, this modifies key system files on the device that may interfere with a normal restore process. You may need to perform a deeper “DFU” (device firmware update) restore to overwrite the jailbreak modifications.

Insufficient storage space

Your iPhone needs to have enough available storage space to install the full iOS firmware during a restore. Delete content off your iPhone or use a computer to manage the backup and restore if storage space is limited.

Steps to fix iPhone restore not working

If you’ve encountered the dreaded issue of iPhone restore not seeming to work, don’t panic. Here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot and hopefully fix the restore process:

Force restart your iPhone

Start by force restarting your iPhone by pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Up button, pressing and quickly releasing the Volume Down button, then press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo. This will reboot your iPhone and clear any temporary glitches.

Check for and install latest iOS update

Make sure your iPhone is updated to the very latest iOS version available. Go to Settings > General > Software Update and install any pending updates. This will ensure compatibility with the latest restore firmware.

Disable Find My iPhone temporarily

If Find My iPhone is enabled on your device, it can interfere with the restore process sometimes. Temporarily disable Find My iPhone in iCloud settings to see if that allows the restore to proceed. Re-enable it after restore is complete.

Put your iPhone into DFU mode

DFU (device firmware update) mode bypasses the normal iPhone boot sequence and allows a “clean” restore. To enter DFU: connect iPhone to computer > press and hold power and home buttons together for 10 seconds > release power button but keep holding home button until you see the connect to iTunes screen.

Try a different USB cable and port

It may sound silly, but sometimes the USB cable or computer USB port can impact the restore process connectivity. Try connecting your iPhone to a different USB port or using a different Lightning cable, ideally the one that came with your phone.

Restore using a computer instead

If you’ve been trying to restore using iTunes on your iPhone directly, try instead doing the restore by connecting your iPhone to a computer with iTunes installed. This provides a more stable environment for the restore firmware installation.

Sign out and into iCloud before restoring

An iCloud syncing error could potentially be interfering with your restore process. As a precaution, sign out of iCloud completely on your iPhone before attempting to restore. After the iPhone is restored, sign back into your iCloud account.

Clear up storage before restoring

Check your iPhone storage under Settings > General > iPhone Storage. Make sure you have at least 3GB of available space. Delete unneeded apps and media to clear space for the restore firmware download.

Contact Apple support if problems persist

If you still can’t successfully restore your iPhone after trying these troubleshooting tips, your best bet is to contact Apple support directly. They can run diagnostics, suggest further solutions tailored to your specific situation, or set up a repair or replacement if needed.

What to do if you can’t restore your iPhone

Despite your best efforts, sometimes an iPhone restore just refuses to work properly. If you’ve exhausted all restore troubleshooting steps and your iPhone still won’t restore, here are a few options on how to proceed:

Try restoring to an earlier iOS version

See if you can install an older version of iOS firmware on your iPhone using iTunes. Sometimes going back to a previous iOS update can allow a successful restore in cases where the latest update fails repeatedly.

Erase all content and settings

As a last resort before fully resetting your iPhone via restore, try going to Settings > General > Reset and select “Erase All Content and Settings”. This wipes the iPhone back to factory settings without needing a restore.

Take your iPhone to an Apple Store Genius Bar

The knowledgeable technicians at any Apple retail store Genius Bar can run diagnostics to pinpoint why your iPhone won’t restore properly. They can replace any faulty parts and may have special utilities to restore your iPhone.

Use recovery mode to force a restore

If standard restore methods aren’t working, put your iPhone into recovery mode and connect to iTunes on a computer. This will force a firmware re-installation from scratch and overwrite any corrupted OS files preventing a normal restore.

Contact a third-party iOS repair service

Mobile phone repair shops that specialize in Apple products may have advanced tools to perform lower level diagnostics and firmware re-flashing to get your iPhone restored properly. Just be sure to only use reputable services.

Perform a clean install with new iPhone setup

As a final failsafe, you can wipe your iPhone completely by erasing it and setting it up as a new iPhone via iTunes or Finder. This starts totally fresh but you’ll need to re-sync your apps and data afterwards.

Best practices to avoid iPhone restore failures

Restoring an iPhone can solve many issues, but a failed restore often creates new problems. Use these best practices to help avoid restore failures in the future:

Maintain latest iOS version

Always keep your iPhone updated to the current iOS release through Settings > General > Software Update. Running an outdated iOS that is no longer fully supported can cause restore problems.

Back up iPhone regularly

Consistently back up your iPhone data to iCloud or iTunes before any major iOS update, restore attempt, or iPhone repair. This provides a safety net if you ever need to restore from a backup.

Delete unnecessary apps and media

Preserve storage space on your iPhone by offloading unused apps, messages, photos and videos. This prevents storage errors interrupting restores. iCloud storage helps keep local iPhone capacity freed up.

Avoid interrupting restore process

Never power off your iPhone or disconnect it from computer during a restore. That can corrupt firmware files and cause the restore to fail partially or fully. Always let restore complete uninterrupted.

Research restore errors thoroughly

If a restore does fail, look up any specific error messages you encounter to better understand potential causes and solutions before trying again. Don’t just repeat a failing restore blindly.

Use recommended accessories for restore

Always connect your iPhone to a computer for restoring using the original charging cable and an approved power adapter. Use official Apple accessories for best performance.

Do not jailbreak iPhone before restore

Jailbreaking an iPhone modifies system files in ways that often prevent restores from working properly. Avoid jailbreaking if you think you may need to restore your iPhone at some point.


iPhone restore not working can be immensely frustrating, especially when you need to revive a disabled or malfunctioning device. While there are many potential pitfalls, most restore issues can be resolved through diligent troubleshooting and workarounds. Sticking to best practices like keeping current backups, maintaining free storage, and avoiding interruptions during restore will minimize your chances of a failure. But should all else fail, Apple’s customer service and professional repair shops can usually get even the most stubborn iPhone restored with special tools and techniques. With proper care and precautions, you can make sure a needed iPhone restore doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my iPhone stuck in recovery mode during restore?

If your iPhone enters recovery mode and becomes unresponsive during a restore, it’s likely due to a interrupted or flawed firmware installation. Force restart your iPhone and try the restore again, making sure not to disconnect mid-process. Entering DFU mode can overrides recovery mode.

How can I get my photos back after a failed iPhone restore?

Provided you backed up your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes before the failed restore attempt, you should be able to recover your photos after restoring your phone from that backup. If no backup exists, specialized data recovery services may be able to retrieve lost photos.

Is it safe to delete update installer files after an iPhone restore?

Yes, it is generally safe to delete the iOS update installer .ipsw files from your computer after successfully restoring your iPhone. The OS is already installed on the device, so the installers just take up drive space. Keep them if restore issues persist.

What should I do if my iPhone is stuck on the Apple logo after restoring?

An Apple logo freeze usually means the iPhone can’t finish booting up properly after a restore. First, force restart the phone again and try restoring once more. If that doesn’t work, you’ll likely need to attempt recovery mode or DFU mode restores to get past the boot issue.

Why does my iPhone say not enough storage for restore?

The iPhone restore process requires at least 3-5GB of available storage space. If you get a not enough storage error, offload apps and media files to create space. You may also need to use a computer instead to initiate the iPhone restore.

I get an “iPhone disabled connect to iTunes” message. What now?

This message means your iPhone is in lockdown mode and must be restored via iTunes on a computer. Connect your iPhone to your computer and initiate a restore in iTunes. This should bypass the disabled lockdown state by reinstalling the operating system.

What should I do if my iPhone won’t connect to iTunes for restore?

First, restart both devices and check USB connections. Try different cables and USB ports. Update iTunes and iOS to latest versions. On Mac, allow trusted access. As a last resort, a Windows PC may have better iTunes restore connectivity.

Why does my iPhone say unsupported after restore?

If you see an unsupported message after an update or restore, it typically means you attempted to install an iOS version that is newer than what your iPhone model supports. You will need to acquire and install a supported iOS version instead.

Should I be concerned if my iPhone restarts repeatedly after restoring?

Repeating restarting or boot looping after an iPhone restore often indicates a serious hardware issue was uncovered, such as faulty RAM or storage. You’ll likely need to schedule a Genius Bar appointment or third-party repair service.