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How to Restore iPhone Firmware and Backup

Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

iTunes or a jailbreak tool like Redsnow can be used to restore iPhone firmware. On the other hand, iPhone backup can be restored using iTunes or a third-party application like iTools.

An iPhone 6 soon after firmware restore

An iPhone 6 soon after firmware restore

iPhone restore is used to mean the reinstallation of firmware during an upgrade or downgrade. It can be done using iTunes or jailbreak tools like Redsnow.

On the other hand, backup restore means reinstallation of iPhone data previously backed up in the computer or iCloud. This step is necessary following firmware restore or in the event of acquiring a new iPhone.

Backup restore is done using iTunes but is also possible with third-party tools like iTools. iPhone firmware restore should not be confused with over the air (OTA) update which basically upgrades the IOS to the latest version via WiFi connection.

It is important to always backup iPhone content to the computer or iCloud before restoring it.

The important thing to note is that previously backed up data can only be restored to an iPhone whose firmware version is the same or higher. Backed up data cannot be restored to a downgraded firmware.


iPhone firmware restore basically lets you wipe the iPhone clean and install a new operating system (IOS) from scratch. You must install and configure apps and settings afresh.

iPhone reset meanwhile takes the iPhone software and settings back to its original state. iPhone reset is necessary when troubleshooting bugs i.e. Network settings or when opting out of jailbreak status.

How to Restore iPhone Firmware

Restore of firmware and backup is done using iTunes or via OTA. Third party applications for both Windows and Mac permit the downgrade of IOS firmware using shsh blobs that are backed up in the computer or Cydia servers.

How to restore iPhone firmware using Redsnow

Make sure to download the right IPSW file to be restored if you choose to go down the manual road. Just in case you are not sure what IOS is right for you, download f0recast utility to guide you. F0recast will show your iPhone model and provide a link to download the correct firmware.

F0recast also directs you to a site that will let you know the signed and unsigned state of IOS versions for your iPhone.

Use genuine iPhone cables to prevent errors that crop up during the restore process.

F0recast will show your iPhone model and direct you to the right IOS download site

F0recast will show your iPhone model and direct you to the right IOS download site

Follow the link below to find out which  IOS firmware for your iPhone are signed and which ones are not

Follow the link below to find out which IOS firmware for your iPhone are signed and which ones are not

  • Start iTunes. You may have to upgrade to the latest iTunes in case the restore process encounters errors.
  • Connect the iPhone to the computer.
  • You should see the iPhone Summary page. If it does not show up, click or tap the iPhone and then Summary tab on the top right corner.
  • iTunes will connect to Apple servers and prompt for iTunes or iPhone firmware update.
  • Click Restore to initiate OTA iPhone firmware restore.
Scroll to Continue
  • Otherwise, press the Shift button while clicking the Restore button on the keyboard to initiate a manual restore.
  • iTunes will then ask you to Turn Off Find My iPhone before the restore initiates.
  • Head over to Settings>iCloud to turn it off.
  • When Find My iPhone is turned off, the restore process can be resumed.
  • Click Restore to initiate automatic iPhone restore.
  • In a manual restore you will have to point to the ipsw firmware you downloaded by browsing to its folder.
  • Setup will now initiate.
  • iPhone restore should complete in under five minutes.
  • Bad internet, cable and USB ports, as well as bad computer configuration can interfere with iPhone restore.
  • Refer to this Apple troubleshooting guide when you encounter errors during the restore process.

Issues With Find My iPhone

If you are restoring your iPhone because you forgot your passcode or your iPhone is disabled, you may want to try something else. You cannot turn off Find My iPhone in a passcode protected iPhone.

First, you can disable your iPhone within your iCloud using a computer or other Apple device and restart iPhone.

Second, you can use DFU mode to bypass Find My iPhone roadblock. DFU mode operates out of the realm of the home screen and thus bypasses the need to input commands within the iPhone.

  • To enter DFU mode, plug the iPhone cable into the computer and turn it off.
  • Now press and hold the Power button for 3 seconds. Without releasing the Power button also press and hold the Home button for 10 seconds. Release the Power button but keep holding the Home button for about 15 seconds.
  • A message will pop up in iTunes that it has detected an iPhone in recovery mode.
  • Click Ok and then Restore iPhone.

How to enter DFU mode in details.

When the iPhone restore completes the iPhone will restart and will display Slide to set up screen. Follow the instructions in order to set up your iPhone.

How to Restore iPhone Data

These notable iPhone content can be backed up using iTunes and iCloud:

  • Contacts and call history
  • Photos and albums
  • Apps
  • Calender
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
  • Messages
  • Mail accounts and not emails
  • Voice memos

However, the music collection that you synced with iTunes from your laptop is not saved during backup and cannot be restored. But you can use third party applications like iTools to save these to your computer before firmware restoration.

You can use iTunes or even iTools to sync the music files back to the iPhone after it has been restored.

iREB shows you how to enter DFU mode

iREB shows you how to enter DFU mode

iPhone Backup Restore Using iTunes

Upon successful iPhone firmware restore, iTunes will prompt you to set it up for use.

You will be asked to:

  • Set up as new iPhone
  • Restore from backup

Set up as new iPhone is appropriate if you are using an iPhone for the first time or are preparing it for sale. You do not want to sell it with your content.

If however you have a backup saved somewhere in the computer or iCloud, you should select Restore from backup in iTunes

Point to a relevant iPhone backup if indicated in iTunes and let the restore initiate.

Otherwise, use the backup options in the Summary tab of iTunes to initiate the restore.

  • Connect iPhone cable to the computer and head over to the Summary tab.
  • Select either iCloud or This computer to point to the location of your saved backup.

Depending on the number of photos, apps, documents and other files, backup restore can take more than an hour to complete. It could take less time of course if your content is little.

iPhone Backup Restore Using iTools

You can also restore iPhone from backup using iTools. This may not be a necessary option but when you somehow mix up your backup files and iTunes fails to identify it, iTools may be just the tool for you.

iPhone restore from backup is also possible using iTools

iPhone restore from backup is also possible using iTools

© 2014 Alfred Amuno


mariea laura on August 26, 2018:

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Keyideas Infotech from New York on May 23, 2017:

I found my self in trouble while restoring my iPhone... I think your article will definitely help me next time.

mohameddaryf on February 12, 2017:

I think it's helpful thanks on September 29, 2016:

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