Why does it keep saying iPhone disconnected when backing up?

The “iPhone disconnected” error message occurs when backing up an iPhone or iPad to iTunes or Finder on a computer. This error indicates that the iOS device disconnected or was interrupted while trying to complete the backup process. There are several potential causes behind this vague error message which we’ll explore in this article.

This problem typically arises when trying to backup an iPhone or iPad either through a wired connection to a computer or wirelessly over iCloud. The backup process requires a stable, uninterrupted connection to complete properly. If the connection is disrupted for any reason, you’ll likely see the “iPhone disconnected” or “iPad disconnected” error message.

Understanding why the disconnection occurs and how to resolve it can help you successfully back up your iPhone or iPad. We’ll provide an overview of the main culprits behind this error and steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem.

Causes of Disconnection

There are a few common causes for the “iPhone disconnected” error message when trying to back up your device:

Outdated iOS Version

Having an outdated version of iOS can sometimes lead to connection issues during backup. Make sure your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS version available to ensure compatibility with the backup software (source).

Poor WiFi Connection

An unstable or slow WiFi connection can interrupt the backup process. Try moving closer to your wireless router or connecting your iPhone directly to your computer with the charging cable (source).

Insufficient iCloud Storage

If you are backing up to iCloud and don’t have enough storage space left, it may cause the backup to fail mid-process. Check your iCloud storage usage under Settings and upgrade your plan if needed (source).

Faulty Lightning Cable

Using a faulty or damaged Lightning cable can interrupt the connection between the iPhone and computer. Try replacing the cable with a brand new one to resolve any issues.

iOS Version

It is important to keep your iPhone’s iOS version up-to-date for several reasons:

Performance – Updating iOS improves your iPhone’s speed and responsiveness by fixing bugs and optimizing system resources (Source). The latest iOS version is designed to run smoothly on your model of iPhone.

Security – Apple regularly releases security patches to address vulnerabilities and protect against emerging threats. Staying current with iOS updates helps keep your data and privacy safe (Source).

New Features – Updating iOS lets you access the latest features and innovations from Apple, such as improved cameras, emoji, Siri commands, and more.

To update your iPhone’s iOS version, go to Settings > General > Software Update. Tap “Download and Install” to get the latest iOS version. Your iPhone will need enough battery charge and storage space to complete the update. Connect your iPhone to power and WiFi during the process. The update may take up to an hour to install depending on your model.

WiFi Connection

A weak WiFi signal between your iPhone and router is one of the most common reasons for the “iPhone disconnected” error when trying to backup. Here are some tips for improving your WiFi signal:

First, try moving your router to a central location in your home and elevating it off the floor, as WiFi signals radiate outward and upward (Source). Make sure the antennae are pointed vertically, and consider replacing them with higher gain antennae if needed.

Check for interference from electronics and obstacles, and move or reposition devices as needed. Consider switching to 5GHz WiFi if your router supports it, as it provides faster speeds and less interference.

You can also check your router settings and switch to a less crowded channel, lower the channel bandwidth, or adjust the transmission power if possible (Source). Upgrading to a newer router that supports the latest WiFi standards can help maximize range and connection speeds.

If your WiFi signal remains poor in certain areas despite troubleshooting, WiFi range extenders and mesh networks can help amplify signals throughout your home. As a last resort, switching to a wired ethernet connection for backups provides the most reliable solution.

iCloud Storage

One common cause of the “iPhone disconnected” error when trying to backup is not having enough available iCloud storage. You can check your current iCloud storage usage by going to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Manage Storage on your iPhone. This will show a breakdown of how much storage each app is using.

If you are getting close to your limit, you will need to upgrade your iCloud storage plan to have enough space for backups. Apple offers several paid iCloud+ upgrade options (source):

  • 50GB for $0.99/month
  • 200GB for $2.99/month
  • 2TB for $9.99/month

Upgrading can be done directly on your iPhone by going to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Change Storage Plan. You can also upgrade by going to icloud.com and clicking Manage Account Storage.

With an upgraded iCloud+ plan, you’ll have plenty of storage space available for backups and can avoid the “iPhone disconnected” error during the backup process.

Lightning Cable

One common reason for the “iPhone disconnected” error when trying to back up is a faulty Lightning cable. Over time, the Lightning cable can become damaged from fraying, bending, or liquid exposure. Signs of a faulty Lightning cable include the phone not charging properly, the cable connecting and disconnecting repeatedly, or seeing the “This accessory may not be supported” message. If the cable seems damaged, it’s best to replace it with a new official Apple Lightning cable.

Additionally, a dirty Lightning port can prevent the cable from making a solid connection. Lint, dust, and debris can build up in the Lightning port over time. To clean the Lightning port, first power down the iPhone and use a toothpick to gently scrape along the port to dislodge any debris. Avoid using metal tools to prevent damage to the port. Next, use a can of compressed air to blow out any remaining dust. Finally, use a soft, dry cloth or cotton swab dampened with isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining dirt or grime from the port. After cleaning, make sure the port is completely dry before reconnecting the Lightning cable.

Properly cleaning the Lightning port helps ensure a solid connection between the cable and iPhone, which can prevent disconnection issues when trying to back up.

Backup Alternatives

If you don’t want to use iCloud to back up your iPhone, there are some alternative backup options available:

Using iTunes to Back Up

You can use iTunes on your computer to back up your iPhone data locally instead of to iCloud. To do this, connect your iPhone to your computer using the Lightning cable and open iTunes. You can then select your device and click “Back Up Now” to perform a manual backup to your computer (1). iTunes will backup a variety of data including your photos, messages, contacts, and more.

Third Party Backup Services

There are also third party apps and services that allow you to backup your iPhone data without using iCloud. For example, iMazing (2) is a desktop app that provides robust iPhone backups and file management capabilities. There are also services like AnyTrans (3) that provide online cloud backups of your iPhone wirelessly over WiFi.

These third party backup options give you alternatives to backing up your iPhone with iTunes or iCloud. They provide more flexibility in where your data is stored and how it is managed.

Reset Network Settings

One troubleshooting step you can try is to reset your iPhone’s network settings. This will erase all of the WiFi networks and passwords stored on your device and reset it to a ‘clean slate’ for network connectivity.

To reset network settings on an iPhone running iOS 16 or later, go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset > Reset Network Settings. You will be asked to enter your passcode and then confirm that you want to reset the network settings. The device will reboot and all network settings will be erased.1

Resetting network settings can often resolve “iPhone disconnected” errors during iCloud backup by clearing out any problematic wifi connection info. However, there are some risks to be aware of.

You will lose all saved wifi passwords and have to re-enter them for each network. Any custom VPN or proxy settings will also be erased. This may be inconvenient but typically not a major issue. More concerning is the small chance of data loss if you reset while apps are actively syncing data in the background. To be safe, put the iPhone in airplane mode first before resetting networks.

Overall, resetting network settings is usually worthwhile to try fixing persistent “iPhone disconnected” errors during iCloud backup. Just be mindful of the minor risks and reconnect to your wifi networks afterwards.

Restore iPhone

If you continue to experience the “iPhone disconnected” error when trying to backup, restoring your iPhone to factory settings can help resolve software issues causing the problem. Before restoring, it’s important to backup your iPhone either to iCloud or your computer to avoid permanent data loss.

To restore your iPhone and setup as new, first turn off Find My iPhone, then connect to a computer with iTunes or WiFi and erase your device by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings (Apple support). This will reset your device to factory default settings and delete all data. Next, go through the initial setup process to setup as a new iPhone.

The main risk of restoring your iPhone is potential data loss if you don’t properly backup beforehand. Any data, settings, or content not backed up will be deleted. You’ll also have to redownload apps and reconfigure settings after restoring. Overall, restoring your iPhone to factory settings can fix software issues like the “iPhone disconnected” error, but be sure your data is backed up first.

Contact Apple Support

If you continue having issues with your iPhone backup after trying the steps listed above, it’s best to contact Apple Support directly for further assistance. You can reach Apple Support in several ways:

  • Get support through the Apple Support app on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Go to the Contact Support page on Apple’s website and choose the topic related to your backup issue. You can then request a phone call or chat with an Apple Support advisor.
  • Call Apple Support directly at 1-800-275-2273.

When you contact Apple Support about iPhone backup problems, be prepared to answer some troubleshooting questions. The Apple Support advisor may ask you to try resetting network settings on your iPhone or updating to the latest iOS version. They will likely try to help you resolve the issue over the phone or chat first before suggesting an in-store Genius Bar appointment.

In some cases, you may need to schedule a repair or replacement if there is an underlying hardware issue causing repeated backup failures. Apple Support aims to fully resolve iPhone issues, so you can expect them to patiently work with you until your backups succeed.