iTunes and iPhone 2.0.1 spell disaster

Just a few nights back after work, following a fairly normal routine, I accepted the iTunes request for an update to 7.7. Upon completion and plugging in my iPhone, I was prompted to update the firmware to 2.0.1. Again, I accepted. During the middle of this process, iTunes crashed. Upon clearing the dialog boxes, iTunes restarted (my iPhone was still connected). Only this time, iTunes had nothing in it's library -- no music, no movies, no Podcasts -- nothing. And then looking at my iPhone, it was cycling between the Apple logo and an image of a USB plug and the iTunes logo -- my iPhone had become an iBrick.

Wow! In a bit of shock, I tried closing and restarting iTunes, and I tried shutting down and restarting my iPhone. Neither one helped. Here I went from a few casual, routine updates to a lot of unplanned for, and really unnecessary rebuilding. First, i had to figure out how to un-brick my phone.

The best I could come up with was some instructions posted on first tech blog, where it sounds like Garry had a similar experience with his iPhone and the 2.0.1 firmware update -- though his process was describing how to recover for Vista. With this as a guide, I was able to un-brick the phone. I'll avoid the mis-fires, and just summarize the steps that actually got my iPhone working again.
  1. Remove the iPhone from the USB / iPhone cable and shut it off
    • Hold the Sleep/Wake (top) and Home buttons for about 10 seconds
  2. Restart your PC (turn it off first, do not just reboot)
  3. Plug the USB / iPhone cable directly into my PC (not through a hub)
  4. Create a new account in Windows XP (or Vista) with Administrator privileges
    • Begin with an account that has admin privileges
    • Go to the User Accounts applet in the Control Panel
    • Create a new user with admin privileges
  5. Completely logout (do not just switch users), and login to the new Admin user account
  6. Launch iTunes
  7. Reconnect your iPhone (eventually it should recognize your iPhone)
  8. Accept the prompt to recover your iPhone
  9. Once recovered, you can logoff and return to your normal user account, and delete the account used for the recovery
    [I am fairly certain creating the new account is suggested because iTunes must keep some configurations in the Registry. If you wanted to make the recovery within your standard account, you would have to know which Registry entries to modify and/or delete. The new account approach is easier for most computer users.]
There you have it. I now had a virgin iPhone with 2.0.1 firmware. Of course I still had to deal with iTunes, which no longer has any of my files or configurations.

I tried to find a good configuration file, but all I could find was the new, virgin one created. So I had to go the old fashion way, and rebuild my library -- File | Add Folder to Library. I had to do this twice, once for my video files and once for my audio files. The good news is that it will scan all sub-folders. Hours later, my 45 GB of audio, video, podcast, and App Store files were reloaded. With that complete, I recreated my Smart Playlists.

Now with iTunes back up-to-speed, I still had to reload my iPhone. With nearly filling my 8 GB phone with music, the sync took several more hours. I still have not fully completed the last step on the iPhone: reconfigure all the Apps, including login credentials. In particular, I am not having any success getting my Exchange mail to work, which was working before the disaster.

Finally, since I also have an iPod and an Apple TV, I still have to re-establish them with my reborn iTunes. that is going to take another 6 to 8 hours per device, as they heach have 40 GB to resync. Unfortunately, Apple forces you to dump the drives and reload the file, even though they are the same. It's just that the devices thinks that I am now using a different PC (since I lost iTunes) than what they were originally sync'd with.

Let me conclude with 2 lessons learned:
  1. No matter how well syncing works with your USB cable plugged through a USB hub, plug it directly into your computer (in particular if your are doing a firmware update).
  2. No matter whether required to or not, always reboot your PC after an iTunes update prior to reattaching any of your devices.
There you have it; way too many hours lost to technology mishaps. For all the praise Apple gets for making good products, I think they still have a long way to go when it comes to the iPhone and Windows applications.


Olivier. said…
Good morning, I have downloaded the 2.0.1 update from a different computer (Mac) as the internet that I havemy iPhone 3G linked with has very slow net. I was wondering how to install the 2.0.1 onto my iPhone 3G on my PC, as I have ported it across via USB drive...

Could someone please help me?

Thanks in advance,

CHRISdotTODD said…
Connect your iPhone to your PC and open iTunes. Then hold the SHift button down while clicking Restore in iTunes. This will allow you to browse to the location where you stored the firmware update. That should do the trick.

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