My iPhone Won’t Restore. Here’s The Real Fix!

You’re trying to restore your iPhone, but it’s not working. You’ve plugged your iPhone into iTunes and started the restore process, but you’re seeing an error message like “This iPhone cannot be restored” and you don’t know what to do. In this article, I’ll explain why your iPhone won’t restore and exactly how to fix the problem with iTunes.

Don’t panic: this is an extremely common issue. Restoring an iPhone erases everything on it, and it’s the go-to fix for iPhone software problems — especially serious ones. So let’s get to it!

Apple’s Support Article Doesn’t Cut It

Apple’s own support page about what to do when your iPhone won’t restore is very limited, and frankly, it’s incomplete. They suggest a couple solutions, and they’re valid, but there are numerous reasons why an iPhone won’t restore with iTunes. In fact, this issue can be traced to both software and hardware problems — but it’s easy to solve if you approach it in the right way.

Because of this, I’ve come up with a list of several solutions for fixing an iPhone that won’t restore. These steps address both software and hardware problems in a logical order, so you’ll be able to restore your iPhone again in no time.

How To Fix An iPhone That Won’t Restore

1. Update iTunes On Your Computer

First off, it’s important to make sure that iTunes is up-to-date on your Mac or PC. It’s easy to check! On a Mac, follow these three steps:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. Look towards at the left-hand side of Apple toolbar at the top of your screen and click iTunes button.
  3. Click Check For Updates from the drop-down menu. iTunes will then either update itself or notify you that your copy of iTunes is already up-to-date.

Check for iTunes updates.
On a Windows computer, do the following:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. From the Windows menubar, click the Help button.
  3. Click Check For Updates from the drop-down menu. iTunes for Windows will then either update itself or notify you that your copy of iTunes is already up-to-date.

2. Reboot Your Computer

If your iTunes is already up-to-date, the next step in fixing your iPhone is to reboot your computer. On a Mac, just click the Apple button at the upper-left-hand corner of the screen and click Restart from the bottom of the drop-down menu. On a PC, click on the Start Menu and click Restart.

3. Hard Reset Your iPhone When It’s Plugged Into The Computer

We don’t always recommend hard resetting your iPhone, but it may be a necessary step when your iPhone won’t restore. Make sure your iPhone is plugged into your computer while performing the hard reset.

The process of hard resetting an iPhone depends on which model you have:

  • iPhone 6s, SE, and older: Simultaneously press and hold the Home button and the power button until you see the Apple logo appear on the display.
  • iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: Simultaneously press and hold the power button and the volume down button. Release both buttons when the Apple logo appears on the screen.
  • iPhone 8 and newer: Quickly press and release the volume up button, then quickly press and release the volume down button, then press and hold the side button. Release the side button when the Apple logo appears.

4. Try A Different Lightning / USB Cable

Try a new Lightning cable.

Oftentimes, an iPhone won’t restore because a broken or otherwise faulty Lightning cable. Try using a different Lightning cable, or borrow one from a friend.

Additionally, using third-party cables that are not MFi-certified by Apple can cause restore problems. MFi-certified means that Apple has tested the cable to be compliant with its standards and that it is “made for iPhone.” If you’re using a third-party cable that’s not MFi-certified, I highly recommend purchasing a high-quality, MFi-certified lightning cable made by Amazon — it’s 6 feet long and less than half the price of Apple’s!

5. Use A Different USB Port Or Computer

Try a different USB port.

Problems with the USB port on your computer can cause the restore process to fail, even if that same port works with other devices. An iPhone won’t restore if one of your USB ports is damaged or doesn’t supply enough power to charge your device throughout the entire restore process. With this in mind, always try using a different USB port to restore your iPhone before you move on to the next step.

6. DFU Restore Your iPhone

It’s time to try a DFU restore if, after trying a new USB port and Lightning cable, your iPhone still won’t restore. This is a special type of restore that clears your iPhone’s hardware and software settings, giving your iPhone a completely clean slate. Oftentimes a DFU restore will let you restore iPhones that are experiencing software difficulties that prevent normal restores. Follow our DFU restore guide here.

7. If All Else Fails: Options For Repairing Your iPhone

If your iPhone is still not restoring, there’s a chance that your iPhone needs to be sent in for repair. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be an expensive or time consuming process.

If you decide to go to an Apple Store for help, make sure to make an appointment at the Genius Bar first so you don’t end up waiting in a very long line. If you’re looking for a less-expensive alternative, Puls will send a certified technician to you to fix your iPhone in as few as 60 minutes, and they offer a lifetime warranty on their work.

Happy Restoring!

In this article, you learned how to fix an iPhone that won’t restore, and if you ever have the problem again, you’ll know exactly what to do. I hope this article helped you to fix your iPhone, and let us know if it did in the comments section below!

About Author

I'm Andrew Kunesh, a technology writer and IT professional from Chicago. My goal is to help you fix the many errors and problems your Apple devices may face. Thanks for checking out our work!

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1 year ago

Thank you

2 years ago

Thanks for this guide!

Amanda Wooley
2 years ago

Thank you so very much! I was ready to head to the shop with my son’s phone. I think changing to a legitimate iPhone cord and base was the answer. When the phone hit 100%, it turned on completely! It had been in the “restore” mode for more than eight hours before I switched cord and base.

Colleen Krowl
2 years ago

Thank you very much for your advice on restoring iPhones. I have an iPhone 5s that I needed to update and then backup because my phone company needs me to upgrade my phone to use 5G. I wanted to save what I had on my phone before getting a new one. After rebooting my PC, iTunes worked to backup and restore my phone to what it was. I was panicked when my phone was stuck on restore, and you are right, there is not much info on Apple’s website. I am glad I found your article. Many thanks to you.

Colin Boyd
2 years ago
Reply to  Colleen Krowl

Hi Colleen! Thanks for reading, I’m glad we could help. Just FYI, there are a lot of great phone plans out there that don’t require customers to sign up for 5G. If you’d like to to see what some of your other options might be, here’s a link to our Cell Phone Plan Comparison Tool:

Hope this helps!

2 years ago

I recently canceled the service on an iPhone 12 Pro. I completely own it and want to sell it but I need to know that everything has been wiped. However, I cannot log on and the only thing I get on screen is to connect to iTunes. This was my daughter’s phone and she is no longer with me. How can I fix this to make sure I can resell.

Jeremy Mccready
2 years ago

I forgot my password and tried to restore my iPhone 6s and when I open iTunes and try to restore it nothing happens. It just sits on the same page. How do I fix this? Any help here please.

2 years ago

Where should I download a restore file from? Downloading through iTunes isn’t possible because of the 15 minute time frame.

Ben Amar
2 years ago

Hello, I bought a new iphone 12 and after 2 hours I updated the system. Unfortunately, it turns off and on by itself after the update. I tried to restore it with itunes but it crashed in the software verification phase and I always get the dfu mode when I want to turn it on. My iphone doesn’t want to restore again. Please help me to solve the problem because the iphone is new so there is no risk of hardware failure.

Colin Boyd
2 years ago
Reply to  Ben Amar

Hi Ben, I’m sorry to hear that! Which version of iOS did you try to install?

2 years ago

i did all these and still didn’t work. Spoke to apple support…no help. Pathetic. what finally worked- I noticed my restore would start and stop, so I went looking for those backup files on my laptop. I found that there were one for each time I tried to restore. The iPhone literally tries to backup the backup (so you basically need double the storage amount on your laptop of the total backup file), before it will fully backup. I deleted all the small backups that it attempted to use except the one I knew was the full backup. I found… Read more »

2 years ago
Reply to  Paypal

How did you find the backups or where were they?

2 years ago

My iPhone 12 Pro Max won’t restore tried iTunes on 2 different laptops no luck please help.iTunes was instilled couple of times to newest version

3 years ago

my phone accidentally slammed my phone in the door and the came up on my phone so i did what apple said and restored it but i have done it 7 times and the phone keep showing up with the link and wont restore but no screen is shattered the phone is just a lil bent

harrison nzangi
3 years ago

my iphone x has failed to restore completely…..advice please

3 years ago

i keep getting the error 4013 even trying dfu mode, what could be the issue, ive tried different cables, computers and everything is up to date

3 years ago

Dude – I have been searching forums for about 3 hours. I literally got stuck in a ‘restore loop’ (Ipad says to go to, and shows usb lightning cable on screen) Itunes failed to restore, prompting me to update. The update failed, prompting me to restore and update. I tried using the button sequence to throw ipad into DFU, and restore via itunes while in DFU. Still same restore prompt. I read this article about the headphone trick and did not want to get my hopes up, but I tried it anyways. I plugged my lightning cable wired apple… Read more »

Liam Shotwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I’m glad that we were able to help you out! There’s a lot of confusing informwtion out there. It means a lot to us when people are able to get things fixed with our articles. Other people out there might be having the same issue as you did. If you could share this article on social media or even just with your fellow iPhone friends and family as a future reference in case something happens, I’m sure that will help people out when they need it!

3 years ago

I had a problem not being able to restore an iPhone 6s (error 4). Even though there was no update available for iTunes I decided to redownload iTunes to make sure I latest version. Still no succes. I knew battery in phone was bad and replaced it. I also plugged in a newer working iPhone (11 pro) to make sure it connected. iTunes then went to download an update even though it said iTunes was up to date? After this I was able to successfully restore. So it was either replacing the battery or connecting a newer iPhone that forced… Read more »

3 years ago

hi, I’m Jaden, I have an iPhone 7 plus. I stupidly tried to downgrade from 14.3beta to 14.2 and it ended up with my iPhone being stuck in recovery. I tried to use iTunes to restore it but it came back with “error 14” I also tried “Reiboot” and a few others with still no luck, do you have any ideas on how to fix my phone?

3 years ago

hello am julian , i have an iphone 6plus and anytime i try to restore it , it shows an error 4013 . After the apple logo appears it tell me to connect to itunes which i have already done that and updated it too yet still i see that error..pls help me

3 years ago

Thank you so much for these instructions! I was on the phone with Apple Support for over an hour and was ready to give up hope, but your simple instructions fixed it.

3 years ago

Hi andrew, sorry to disturb you. I had an iphone 6 for a while but lost it I really needed a phone for school and found it and it told me to restore it using a mac computer in order to connect to itunes but I don’t have a mac computer or laptop, I have a Chromebook. I’ve already tried to restart it, I saw the apple logo but afterwards, it’ll ask me to restore it. Do you have any tips to help or do I just throw the phone and save up for a new one.

3 years ago

You were absolutely right about the hard reset.It worked for me after I held it for more than a minute.I was going crazy for the past 24 hours.I wish I had found this post earlier.Thank You!!!

3 years ago

Oh my God! I had a wrong cable. Tried so many things, for soo long. Thank you Andrew!

3 years ago

Trying to restore my old iPhone 8 to my new iPhone 11 Pro. Tried resetting everything, different cables (both apple and aftermarket), different ports. Every time (2 hours later) “cannot complete the restore due to an error.” And then my iTunes (which is updated!) is not responding and I have to force close it. Please help!

3 years ago
Reply to  Jill

Mann im having a simmalar problem. My iphone xr started saying connect to supportapple sometjing but i tried that i went to i tunes downloaded the huge file then i was trying restore the phone but an error came up both times

3 years ago

Tried everything and nothing works to restore my iphone X from my PC. Should I take my PC and Iphone to an Apple store and have them give it a shot?

3 years ago
Reply to  Gene

do you have a solution? my XR isn’t working either

Michael iPhone 8
3 years ago

Is it a piece of Hardware? Motherboard? Anybody could watch YouTube and replace a piece of Hardware themselves without taking it to Apple

Michael iPhone 8
3 years ago

Tried all of the above phone won’t restore. All I want to know is what part of the hardware is causing this. Does anybody know?

4 years ago

Hi David/Andrew. How long should the restore take on a 6s? I still have black screen after about 30 mins

Tito Bunma
4 years ago

Hello, I had my mother’s iPhone 7 laying around for a few years now and it’s disabled and she doesn’t remember my iCloud username or password. Will I still be able to reset my iPhone?

4 years ago
Reply to  Tito Bunma

Get a hammer and smash it up

Elizabeth Morgan
3 years ago
Reply to  Tito Bunma

your username is an email, the email will be the point from which you recover the password. So try emails and don’t give up.

Chris Agnew
4 years ago

Hello, I have an iPhone 5 a friend gave to me but it won’t turn on at all. It used to turn onto the Apple logo then dim out, and I got it to show the iTunes logo a few times, however now it will not turn on at all. I have tried putting it into DFU mode but when it is about to restore, the iPhone ejects itself from the computer! I really hope you can help with this problem. Thanks!

3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Agnew

Were you able to fix your iPhone? I have the same issue.

Last edited 3 years ago by Raymond
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Agnew

Ok, I had this happen with my iPhone X. After some troubleshooting I figured out my battery cable was not snapped securely in place. My own fault because I just recently changed my battery so I must not have pressed down hard enough. But, through the troubleshooting I found out the common issues when this problem arises are Not using an actual Apple charger. Don’t use aftermarket cables when dealing with this. Aftermarket is good for charging and that’s about all. Your battery is basically no good. Apple iPhone batteries on average last 18-24 months. May want to replace it.… Read more »