Are tethered Jailbreaks worth the hassle?

Right now certain models ofiPhones, iPod touches, and iPads running iOS 4.2.1 can only be Jailbroken via the "tethered" method which means they need to be plugged into your Windows or Mac PC and rebooted via a program, redsn0w. Not just to Jailbreak them, mind you, but anytime you need to reboot your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Forget whether you should Jailbreak or not, tethered Jailbreaks require so many extra steps, do the benefits still make up for the hassle?

Finish jailbreaking. Reboot. Update Cydia. Reboot. Update Cydia again. Reboot. Install a Jailbreak app or tweak. Reboot. Install another. Reboot. Hang or crash. Reboot. Run out of power. Reboot.

And it's not just a simple reboot, you have to run redsn0w, power off your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, find your firmware on your PC, load the firmware into redsn0w, let it process, make sure you uncheck Jailbreak and check Untethered boot, put your device into DFU mode, then let redsn0w work its tethered reboot magic.

Every. Time.

As Jailbreak Forum members will attest, real hax0rs don't mind tethered Jailbreaks, but compared to an untethered Jailbreak it's a pain in the @$$, especially when you have a lot of new, or updated stuff you want to install. But then you get to use things like AirVideoEnabler which lets any AirPlay app send video to Apple TV, among a lot of other very useful apps. And you get to Jailbreak an iPad running iOS 4.2, the first iOS 4 version available for iPad, which is a tremendous upgrade in its own right.

Sure Comex and his miraculous userland exploits will probably make 4.2 an untethered Jailbreak before the end of the year, but iOS 4.2.2 or iOS 4.3 or iOS 5 will eventually come around and, if we want the latest firmware, we might be back to tethered for a while. Is it worth it?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Are tethered Jailbreaks worth the hassle?


I have been waiting to JB my new iPad and I'll continue to wait. However, I do not think that the added trouble is worth a teathered JB. I'll have to wait until something comes out.
Commercialization of JB's will speed up the process but there are too many people with their hands out and not willing to pay for "open source" programming.

The answer is "no". One errant re-boot (no just a re-spring) and your SOL if you are away from your PC/Mac. No thanks. I'd rather stay pure on 4.2 until an untethered solution is available.

i think if tethered jailbreaks become more common i doubt people will be more excited about updating to the latest and greatest iOS. i

Stop discouraging people from jailbreaking, 99% of the packages on cydia don't need a reboot after installing, just a respring. You barely need to reboot. Locking it uses less battery than turning it on anyway.

It's not a wild guess that Steve Jobs probably despises jailbreaking. The more people jailbreak, the harder he's going to lean on his engineering groups (hardware and software) to kill jailbreaking once and for all. Removing the jailbreak-detection API from iOS just might be the first step toward that ultimate goal. Why announce your jailbreak-detection scheme to the public?

I've been on the tethered JB on my iP4 for about 3ish weeks and haven't had a single reboot issue at all. To me it's worth it for sure!

jellymelly, you're right. at first there is a lot of tethered rebooting but after that it's all resprings. yes, you have to be careful but it's worth it to me... so far

I totally agree with @jellymelly ... 99% of packages on Cydia dont require a reboot.. just a respring is fine.
Its totally dependent on an individual and his needs.I use wifi tether, 3G unrestrictor for facetime calls over 3G and for that i Jailbreak.

Up until yesterday after receiving a new iPhone 4, my 3GS was always running untethered jailbreaks. I'd have to say that I'm not a fan of tethered but it's better than nothing when u already have or or must have the latest firmware. When I checked my new iPhones firmware I was hoping it would have been running 4.1 but no luck. Had my LimeRa1n all ready to go but nooooo....

I refuse to update my phone to 4.2.1 and I am staying on 4.1 until there is a STABLE JB.
Also, I won't even JB my ipad due to numerous issues.

I must be confused.
I have an iPhone 3G running 4.2.1, jailbroken with Pwnage and unlocked with Ultrasn0w. And, to my knowledge, it's an untethered jailbreak.
Am I wrong?
Or, should this article be changed to indicate that jailbreaks are "tethered-only" right now for iPhone 4 devices and iPhone 3GS devices that have a newer bootrom?

No, it's not worth it to me. I'll never do a tethered jailbreak. I'm still on 4.0.1 and may stay there. I love jailbreaking and all the amazing functionality that it adds. Be that as it may, I get tired of all the cat and mouse games and having to get all my programs back. I customize literally every aspect of my phone; constantly mixing one theme w/another. As well as to many tweaks and apps to remember. Even the apps that allow you to back up your packages gets annoying because some apps don't work on that firmware. Subsequently you have to weed out which ones are and aren't compatible. It's just a mess but a mess I'm willing to live w/because of all the benefits. Even so, I draw the line w/tethered jailbreaks. I'm still on the fence about updating to 4.2.1. I have everything that I need on 4.0.1. Do I really want HDR, Search text in Safari, & Find My iPhone? As of now, no.

People need to stop jailbreaking at all, period. I think I express an opinion held by many, that jailbreaking is as much about stealing apps and other media, which hurts the
App ecosystem for everyone and inhibits Apples efforts to get the old media dinosaurs to entrust more content with Apple more cheaply. So yeah, knock it off, for all our sakes, Apple knows what they are doing.

No. It's gonna be OK for a long time and then suddenly you reboot (a random crash or must do it because of problems) and suddenly you're without a phone. Maybe you'll never do it but that one occasion if yes will be hell. From experience. And with Apple's baseband check, jb restore (and jailbreaking in general) is becomig a hassle.

actually this is incorrect only the newest iPods/iPhones require tethered boot i'm on an old boot rom 3GS running 3.2.1 untethered.

Running the tethered jailbreak right now for the first time and it's a huge inconvenience. This is the first time I've questioned whether or not jailbreaking was a hassle and, in terms of the whole "plug in to reboot" process, it's an extreme pain and not worth it if you plan on actually utilizing your iDevice for more than calls or texts. I can't wait for Santa to bring an untethered jailbreak by Christmas (as comex

It's not worth it to me. I have my list of faves/must-haves/essential cydia tweaks and it's quit long. I believe in rebooting after every install, haha. I am happy with 4.1 for now, and i will wait for Find My iPhone (the only 4.2.1 feature I want) when an untethered JB comes along.

You should learn to think before you speak, or at least google for crying out loud.
No, jailbreaking does not mean stealing apps. LESS than 38% of users have ever installed jb apps to pirate. That isn't nearly all. Oh and next time you want to bash it, thank jailbreakers for your precious "app store and Ecosystem". You say knock it off, I say (and its fact) that MOST apple iOS "innovations" are just rip offs of the jailbreak community. Cydia was THE first app store with a purchasing system. Installer was the first app store ever. Thanks to jailbreakers. Folders, available in jailbreak first. Pages, jailbreak. Multitasking, jailbreak.
So before you bash something you obviously know nothing about, do some research first.

@T-Mobile IPhone User: Ultrasnow is a jb that only works on iPhone 3 an 3GS and it's untethered. If you have an iPhone 4 you need to use Redsnow. This is tethered and basically a pain in the ess. I'm waiting for the next ultrasnow...

If you are a smart person, that just install What is really needed and safe, you wont need to restart that much. I never restart my ip4. Respring is needed for most apps i install, not restart

As Cristiantm said. I only had to reboot like 3 times since 4.2.1 is out and jailbroken...The rest is done over resprings. have the phone blocked...respring...

My tethered jailbreak has been working great on my iPad - probably rebooted twice in about a month and its not a true tethered jailbreak - your iPad/Phone/Touch will still boot, but you won't be able to launch any of the jailbroken apps (although some mobile substrate apps may restrict this).

@Ally That 38% statistic is over a year old. Who knows how much more skewed that number is, let alone how accurate it was to begin with. Piracy has gotten much more sophisticated and crackers have been much more resilient - I would know, I'm in a bunch of dev circles that have anti-piracy methods in place and it's a big cat and mouse game. And, two-thirds of statistics are made up on the spot.

Tethered jailbreaks? Not a chance.
And for those people who say that the only reason that people jailbreak is to use pirated apps, get a grip. Try knowing what you're talking about before you talk about it.

I've been waiting for an untethered jailbreak for a while now. I've have never jailbroken my phone, but want to try it. I just don't feel that a tethered jailbreak is worth the hassle.
What happens if I were to reboot your phone without having it plugged in to your computer? Would I brick my phone? Or would it reboot to factory settings?
I played around with my cousin's jailbroken iPod this past weekend and decided it's time to do it. I just don't want the trouble of a tethered jailbreak. I'm not always near a computer. So if I were out somewhere and really needed to reboot, I would be screwed.

I quit jailbreaking earlier this year. Nothing in jb land I couldn't get at the app store. At this point, having the latest version is more important to me.

My iPad is running jailbroken iOS 3.x and will stay that way until and unless an untethered solution presents itself for 4.x. I have to reboot my iPad multiple times per week. Not a whole lot, but often enough hat it'd be a $;&@ing pain to be tethered every time.
I would love to experience Apple's "multitasking" but it will just have to wait. I can't stand the asstastic YouTube, Netflix, and other iPad 3G video you get "pure." Toss in the 20MB download limit, too.

If this was iOS 3.x the yes, it would be worth it. I just went through the tethered jabreak on 4.2.1 and all I can say is "never again". I have never had so many issues with the iPhone. Slowness, bricking when putting apps in folders (which of course meant I had to boot tethere yet again) and Cydia losing my installed app list. There is also way too much micro-managing that needs to be done to make sure it all works the way you want it to.
At this point, my only "must haves" from the jailbreak are Bite SMS for the quick texting and LockInfo. PDA Net is a tweener. Folder expander is close but I can live without it.
Without app-switching in iOS 4 I could never go without Bite SMS. It is at least tolerable now. LockInfo is tough to say goodbye to, but I am hoping something like Pocket Informant can compensate somewhat.
I don't see myself jailbreaking again, even untethered. The benefit compared to the amount of work it takes to stay ahead of the upgrade race with Apple just isn't what it used to be.

The only thing I can think of that would get me to jailbreak my iPad would be the ability to view iPhone 4 Retina-enhanced apps at their native resolution …and I definitely wouldn't do it if tethering was required.

Forget about untethered, lets talks about unlock 2.10.00, that's million of people waiting for..

IMO not worth the pain. I am sticking to 4.1 to use the usual jailbreak benefits but not going to upgrade to 4.2 with a tethered one.

Worth it for one simple reason. MyWi. AT&T tethering is a rip off and you loose unlimited internet. So I endure it for free WIFI for my laptop.

Just don't upgrade until an untethered jailbreak is available. I'm still running untethered, jailbroken 4.1 and don't feel any desire to upgrade -- not sure I'll go to the trouble even when an untethered 4.2 becomes available. I don't see anything the upgrade would give me that I want and can't get already through a jailbreak app.

You aren't presenting statistics either though. All you have to do is loom at download statistics for certain apps to get an idea how bad it is, and it isn't. I know developers and deal with it as a developer too.
But to say all jailbreakers pirate or that it should be illegal is skewed and unfair. It's give and take. You want your innovations and inprovement for iOS? You won't get many without jailbreakers. :O

I'm with @Ron -- waiting until a non-tethered jb is available for 4.2.1. Holding at 4.1 has been no problem for my iphone, but being at 3.2.1 on my ipad has been frustrating. Hoping for a Christmas present from the dev-team.

I find updating useless I'm on 3.1.3 anything that's offerered in iOS 4 is mostlikely already a Cydia App I use MyWii Proswitcher and winterboard

I did my first JB in two years last week, tethered on 4.2.1. I've only done it for Typophone 4, BiteSMS, MyWifi and 3G Unrestrictor.
Apart from a half dozen reboots after the initial JB o haven't yet needed a reboot and am more than happy.

i have a funny feeling that most people who are against the tethered jailbreak 1) have not personally tried it and or 2) got to frustrated with it, restored and gave up. For anyone that has any common sense and would like something to get them by until the UNtethered is released, this is a wonderful option. oh well, their loss our gain

I have one thing to say about this 'article'. Bullpucky. Why?
Install tweak. RESPRING. Install App. RESPRING. Install Cydia update. RESPRING.
Not restart. Not reboot. Most of the time, users will respring. You do NOT need to tether to RESPRING.
To the blogger: Learn to know the difference before you whine about the tethered jailbreak. In fact, just to be contrarian, I hope the DevTeam takes their time and discourages more whiners and pirates from jailbreaking. Given the piracy from Crapulous etal maybe it's not in the best interest for an 'untethered jailbreak' to be released.
It is worth the trouble if you know what you're doing or need tweaks like FullForce. Or your own hostfile. Or 3GUnrestrictor. Or Apps that have been banned from the AppStore that the Dev still wants to sell to their loyal userbase. A certain CBR/CBZ comic reader comes to mind. And the current AppStore offerings don't even come close.
I've only had to REBOOT one time with my iPad. And that was for the FIRST core Cydia update. Now I have insane uptime as I have not rebooted my iPad since the jailbreak. That's a testament to the iPhone-Devs, Saurik and Apple their own bad selves.

Do you think that Jailbreak will be dead in a year? Eventually, we'll all have to buy new iphones/ipods, and they'll already have 4.21 (or higher) installed. Eventually, Apple will lock down all security holes, preventing jailbreak, and only those with older devices/ios's will still be able to jailbreak :(

I did upgrade to 4.2 for the benefits of a few apps and a particular game that looked appealing......i gave up after 3 hours of the following while re-installing apps etc
Update Cydia.....REBOOT......Update app......GUESS WHAT REBOOT!!!!
yeah i know i wont need to reboot once i get everything re-installed, but getting there takes bloody ages. I have soo much installed on my phone that needs to be rebooted once installed i gave up.....yes i know what is involved in a tethered jailbreak and what it entails but im laz....simple as.
It wouldnt be so bad if there was an option to 'reboot later', so i could install all the apps i need and do the reboot in one go. But as it is im staying put.
As for saying jailbreaking will be dead within a year, i dont think so....the jailbreak team will always find a way through...nothing is fully hack proof

So I'm assuming the respringing trick works by installing sbsettings, and when Cydia prompts a reboot, simply slide or tap the top of the screen and select respring?

IP4 4.2.1 03.10.01 Tethered Jailbroken
I can't seem to get past the first respring, it crashes with the white SWOD over the pineapple, and doesn't move...and that's with adding nothing from cydia, except SSH.
If I don't respring and just close cydia everything works, but I would like to make some springboard and theme mods, i.e. no clock, no carrier, but when I do, and then reboot or respring, it crashes...
Any ideas ?
Thank you

No. Just respring your device. Its just as good as rebooting it. Once your tethered, the only reason to actually reboot, is if you feel your phones been running a bit sluggishly. Or of course you let it run out of power...

ONCE YOU JAILBREAK via TETHER. USE THE "respring" OPTION. It's a 'soft reboot' that DOES NOT require a PC. Having a tethered jail-break also allows you to restore you iPhone to factory defaults, so you can say; sell your iPhone as NOT jail-broken (and not be lying). Thus 'losing' your warranty is just an empty threat from Apple because as long as its a tethered jail-break... your in the clear... I've been to the apple store after i jail-broke my iphone and they had NO idea (KEEP IN MIND YOU MUST DELETE ALL JAILBREAK RELATED FILES, which show up in your camera roll after restore...)
PS. Jail-breaking is not for the feint of heart. Go get your nerd friends.