Magic bullet fix for your iPhone ills

Magic bullet fix for your iPhone ills

Summary: I've been having a lot of iPhone 3G trouble over the past two weeks, most notably:Forced backup of the entire phone on every syncContact lagThe horrible app update processI'm happy to report on what appears to be the magic bullet fix for the above three symptoms. At the advice of reader and PPUG member Todd Schneider, I simply restored my iPhone and set it up anew.


I've been having a lot of iPhone 3G trouble over the past two weeks, most notably:

I'm happy to report on what appears to be the magic bullet fix for the above three symptoms. At the advice of reader and PPUG member Todd Schneider, I simply restored my iPhone and set it up anew.


  • This "nuke and pave" procedure wipes out all your data, preferences and settings. Although most things like contacts, calendars and music are synced to your computer and are easily restored, other things like Notes are not, so be sure to email them to yourself first.
  • Any apps that store data locally on the iPhone (like AccuFuel) lose their data in the process. Make sure that you have this stuff copied down or otherwise backed up to a hard copy.
  • Sync the photos from your camera roll, they're gone too.
  • Be prepared to move all your icons around, if you had them set up on custom pages in a special order, you'll be doing that all over again.
  • Some purchased programs don't appear in iTunes when you go to sync them back to the iPhone. Luckily, when you remember what they are, they're free to download again.

Step-by-step procedure after the jump...

How to "Nuke and Pave" your iPhone:

Step 1: Restore your iPhone.

Magic bullet fix for your iPhone ills

With your iPhone connected, click "Restore" in the "Version" section of the Summary tab in iTunes. This downloads a fresh copy of the iPhone firmware from Apple. If you haven't already, this would be a good time to back up your iPhone – just in case. Clicking on "Restore" prompts you to back up.

Magic bullet fix for your iPhone ills

Step 2: Set up as a new iPhone

Once the restore is complete (anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes) you'll be prompted to "Set Up Your iPhone." The key here is to select "Set up as a new iPhone" and not "Restore from backup." Again, this wipes out all your settings and local data (see above) but it's integral to the procedure.

Step 3: Sync your data back from the Summary tab in iTunes.

Step 4: Test and enjoy.

I'm not sure why this fix works, some theories include corrupt files on the original iPhone and fixes in software version 5A347 (Settings > General > About), but it worked like a charm for me and is highly recommended for anyone suffering from any of the three problems above.

Did it work fo you?

Topics: Mobility, Data Management, Hardware, iPhone, Storage

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  • Not even Windows users reinstall this often!

    At least bitrot in Windows takes 6 months. OS X only lasts a week before it needs to be wiped out and reinstalled! :)
    • Its not Bitrot

      The bugs are likely caused by data stored in the old profiles
      from the iPhone 1.x. All of the people who've had this
      problem have transfered their files from their 1.0 iPhone to
      2.0 (1st gen or 3G).

      This is not bit rot, its a bug in the upgrade process.

      Its like upgrading from XP to Vista... reformatting a fresh
      copy of Vista is much more solid right?
      Todd Schneider
      • Not only old iPhone owners, new ones too.

        I agree with you that its not bitrot but I do have to correct
        you on one point. I've never had an iPhone before and I'm
        experiencing the first two issues that Jason listed. Each
        time I sync my iPhone 3G it wants to do a backup that can
        last 30-45, maybe even 60 minutes sometimes. My
        contacts is also very slow when I first open it, but my
        camera is too which I haven't heard anyone else complain
        about. My wife is having the same exact issues with her
        brand new iPhone 3G too.

        So, its not just people upgrading from the original iPhone
        to the 3G. My wife and I are two new iPhone owners who
        are having these problems too.
    • I had to

      Spent a week talking to Dell's customer
      support and all they could have me do
      was reinstall Windows. After a day of
      installing everything I'd still have the
      problem and would get the same level of
      support on my extended warranty.

      If you don't want to get under the hood of
      a car or inside a computer then you get an
      extended warranty and let your dealer
      take care of you.

      You may be fine, but for me customer
      support is what pushed me to Apple and
      it has been the cheapest option for my
      business. Actual Apple employees take
      care of you when you have a problem and
      they don't hesitate to make hardware
  • RE: Magic bullet fix for your iPhone ills

    So far so good! I tried it, the restore went exactly as you
    described! Just took a few minutes. I "lost" one program, Byline,
    which for some reason
    wasn't in my iTunes app section. Went thru the motions of re-
    purchasing it at the ITMS, said yes to charge credit card and
    then iTunes told me I already purchased it and let me have it
    again for free (whew!). Had to re-enter all my passwords (mail,
    gmail, pandora). Went thru all settings and re-set them (lost
    sounds I like for alerts, wallpaper, push settings). It all took 30
    mins to get back to "normal".

    And yipeee, my Contacts now come up instantly (used to be a
    significant pause)! And the backup takes about 25 seconds
    (could sometimes take 5-10 mins). Time will tell if backup
    starts taking longer again, it was inconsistent, sometimes took
    25 seconds too, but generally much longer. I'll check back here
    to report that if it changes over time.

    But so far so good, this seems to have worked! THANKS!!!
  • Fools and money

    If this was any other phone made by any other manufacturer it would have been returned as faulty and the contract cancelled long before now.

    It's a phone people!!

    How many calls will you miss while you're reinstalling your OS and sorting out all the bugs?

    No matter how good it looks or how cool you feel holding it... if it don't work send it back!

    The part I really can't understand is you're falling over each other to get your hands on one and pay a premium for the 'privilege'.

    What is it they say about fools and money?
    • That's why you don't understand - it is not a phone

      The reason why most non-iphone users don't understand is
      they think the iPhone is a phone. For those that are most
      devoted to the device (like myself -I had an original and 3g
      the first day they went on sale) is that the iPhone is a
      portable computer running OS X and all of our essential
      online applications, just like on our Mac, and yes, we can
      also make phone calls from it. If it was only a phone, I would
      agree 100% with you.
      • So Apple hasn't re-invented the phone then?

        Apple market the iPhone as a mobile phone, not as a computer.

        But you believe you have bought a computer??

        So you'd be happy keeping a computer with a buggy OS that needs to be re-installed within a week or 2.

        Sorry, I got it all so wrong.

        So can your computer do copy/paste?
        • As a matter of fact

          my mobile OS X computer (aka iPhone) CAN indeed do copy/paste. And it can do much, much more. It is NOT a replacement for a desktop or laptop - the technology - even Apple's - is not there yet. But my iPhone can make do in a pinch if need be.

          So next outdated nitpick...
      • Kind of like a smart phone, huh?

        What ever is your point? If smart phones gave their customers as much trouble they would take them back. Your arguement is specious.
    • not an iphone user

      From the tone of your comment I can clearly tell you?re not an I-phone user. You probably wanted one but are 'for some reason' unable to acquire the device. Could be a cash flow or contract issue. 'Who knows!?'
      Anyway, since the introduction of the mobile-phone almost two decades ago I owned a lot of them. From Nokia to Motorola, from Palm to Casio and HTC, running symbian, palmos, windows-ce, windows mobile and more.

      All of them showed strange behavior in some form. Some did it out of the box, others after a couple months of use. But all of them had their own buggy, crashy, locky and tricky things. For example a Nokia I once owned sometimes just switched off whilst in my pocket. This happened more often and often, so I decided to replace the phone. Since it was more than a year old. This new phone showed exactly the same problem.

      I had windows-ce devices once who "when you forgot to charge the units in time" would shutdown and restore-back to factory default. And i won't even start on the crappy Symbian driven devices.

      With all this in mind, I can sincerely say that Apple indeed reinvented the Phone. Although in a 'diamond in the dirt' kind of way.
      • That's my point exactly...

        When those other phones you owned showed signs of faults you sent them back or just got a new phone. Phones only last 12-18 months at best these days.

        Your experience with phones switching off and having funny quirks would probably be most peoples experience (mine included) but... I have never had to re-install an OS on a mobile phone within 2 weeks of purchasing it.

        Send it back!

        BTW - Yes, you're right, I am not an iPhone user... but this is through choice rather than your other assumptions. I don't like using phones with a touch interface.
        • a Blackberry story

          You don't like touch interface devices. That?s ok, I love the qwerty keyboard of the Blackberry although i would love to see a combination of Blackberry keyboard combined with a touch interface. Speaking of the Blackberry. I work at the IT department for a large logistics company in Europe. This doesn't mean the BB devices works flawless.

          We have our own Blackberry Enterprise Server and serve more than 250 blackberry devices and users. Though very user-friendly these devices need firmware upgrades after unboxing to solve bugs and incompatibility issues with the BB enterprise software. When I want to assign an existing Blackberry to a different user. I need to perform a wipe of the device and a factory reset. If i don't the device will suffer from performance issues, and often it even won't pass Enterprise Activation.

          Mmmm...sounds familiar?
          • Combination keyboard / touch

            [i]i would love to see a combination of Blackberry keyboard combined with a touch interface.[/i]

            There are many devices that have a touch screen and a physical keyboard. HTC Tilt, Palm Treo, HP iPAQ to name 3 out of the dozens (hundreds?) of devices that have both.
      • Typical

        Apple zealots never consider that people don't have an iPhone because they don't want one. Apple didn't reinvent anything. Smart phones with even more capabilities then the iPhone have been arround for years. You really need to quit sipping the Kool Aid!
        • This is true

          I love my iPhone but I do realize that it is not for everyone and not suited for every field of employment - including my own... fortunately my employer sprung for blackberrys... :-)

          Unfortunately the Apple and iPhone zealots feel that anything made by Apple is the be all, end all. They make good gear but just like a Macbook or iMac is not for everyone, neither is the iPhone or iPod...
      • I'm sad :(

        I don't have an iPhone :(
        I am such a loser
        I have no money to pay for an iPhone :(
        People with iPhones are so cool
        I'm sad that I'm not cool like them :(

        How's the Kool Aid?
  • No difference

    Following your instructions did not solve the problem of the attempt to do a full backup every time my iPhone is synchronised the first time it's reconnected to my PC. That would become extremely frustrating if it couldn't be cancelled.
    Jason Etheridge
  • RE: Magic bullet fix for your iPhone ills

    I also tried and it didn't fix my syncing problems with my 4 day old phone.
  • RE: Magic bullet fix for your iPhone ills

    .38 caliber