iTunes is Grinding: The Syncing Is Down. UPDATE: Activation too?

Although Apple forces you to get your iPhone activated in-store before you walk out the door, that may not mean that people are going to have a trouble-free syncing experience today. To wit: the error message above is the best I can get when I plug my iPhone 3G into my Mac. Apparently iTunes wants to double-check that my iPhone really is what it's supposed to be. With the presumably massive number of people getting iPhone 3Gs today, iTunes is not handling the load so well.

The store itself is up, but I find it aggravating in the extreme that I can't sync over any of my apps or media without this initial call-in to the Apple mothership. Thank god Mobile Me is working for me, otherwise I wouldn't even have contacts on my iPhone.

Update: Rene just called in to say that all of Rogers in Canada is basically down an unable to activate iPhones, so he's just sitting pretty in the store until things clear up. Let us know -- any delays at AT&T or Apple stores when trying to activate?

...Speaking of downtime: yeah, we know, TiPb is not performing up to spec lately. We're upgrading servers over the weekend (we hope) to bring it back up to acceptable levels. Pardon our 503s.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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iTunes is Grinding: The Syncing Is Down. UPDATE: Activation too?

76 Comments

I was very disappointed to find the same problem. I ran home quickly to try from my home machine thinking it might be an AT&T network problem, but it wasn't. No I'm at work with a unactivated 3G iPhone that will only call emergency services... (does this qualify as an emergency???)

I just upgraded my old IPhone to 2.0 and now it is NOT WORKING AT ALL. It says to "slide for emergency" only.
THIS IS A BUNCH OF CRAP!!! MY CELL PHONE IS NOT WORKING AND I USE IF FOR MY BUSINESS!!!

Same here Jman!... nuts. Apple bricked my old 2G iphone with the 2.0 update! hah! wonderful. Now i'm stuck, no calls, no SMS and I'm not sure how I'm going to stay in touch as this is pretty much my primary phone. Excellent

Smae frustration here. Was first group in the store, it was down from the start & they said they got work from the at&t "war room" to send people home to unbrick it just like they did last time. Of course, we now that that doesn't work... Maximum frustration.....

Same here in SC, they are sending people home to un-brick the phone. I am unable to un-brink from home also.

I got the above pop-up before, now it just keep saying "Accessing iTunes Store" at the progress up top...
iphone-less from NY

Franklin, TN iTunes...down...NO ACTIVATION....I didn't REALLY NEED to be on the 9:30 am conference call :-). Pray!

I had the hunch that I should wait a couple of days for updating to 2.0 but I didn't. And now I'm one of the countless frustrated with my iPhone down. I hope the system is back up soon.

Cannot believe they did not plan better than this. Very poor planning. Should have made the 2.0 update available to existing IPhone users a few days before or warned of the possibilities. I never would have updated if I thought it was going to need to resync with them to at least use my basic phone services.
I REPEAT THIS IS A BUNCH OF @#$@#$@!

Are they going to give us something for our troubles.
A credit on our AT&T bill, iTunes gift card...
Pfffffttt!!!
All I want to do is play with my Apps.

We are the same way in Chicago. At the AT&T stores they deactivated our old iPhones, and now we are stuck with unactivated 3G iPhones and can't do crap!!!!!
We can't even download anything from iTunes either..... ARGHHHHH !! Nice forethought Apple!
I wonder if this has to do with mobileMe being updated now....
I hope they fix this quick!!!!!

yeah really! we want apps! we want apps! this is just... bricktacular. bricktastic. brickerrific.

Same here up in Canada. My new 3G doesnt work yet and my old first gen was re-bricked after the 2.0 upgrade.
I dod manage to upgrade iTunes before the crash.

Same here in Utah -- just the "Emergency Only" message, so instead of an upgraded iPhone I have no iPhone at all! It really is hard to understand how Apple could have screwed this up so completely, given how much planning went into every other aspect of the 3G program, and the huge publicity it's been getting. If they knew there was a possibility of their servers overloading on July 11, you'd think someone over in Cupertino might have thought, "Hey, let's play it safe and put some extra servers online for the big event!" I mean, duh!

You would think for the old iPhone users that want to upgrade such as myself they would skip this whole re-authentication process that seems to be happening. Because it looks like it's waiting on an "OK" from ATT to connect to the network as if my SIM got wiped along with the data...

Having same trouble with original iPhone, but activation just finally succeeded 8:39Pacific and all is good.

whew! gonna try it central now (Dallas)... good thing too. I was just about to the only thing left to do on the iPhone at the moment... dial 911

Just to be clear: I plugged the phone in repeatedly. If I got the -9838 error, I'd try again. Eventually it said "Accessing iTunes Store" instead. This was very slow, but eventually worked.

Anyone getting an error in iTunes saying the network connection timed out so they are unable to process my request? I downloaded 7.7 last night on the same PC and nothing has changed except for this mess.

Message I get is:-
We could not complete you iTunes Store request. The network connection timed out.
Make sure your network settings are correct and your network connection is active, then try again.
The iTunes store works fine though.

I am lucky - I got the error but it started up again, the phone activated, and the backup is almost restored. In the meantime, I spoke to Apple where they said the system is slow, the process would finish. However, I called AT&T who was able to remotely forward the line to another phone - so for those with bricking, that's how you can get your calls.

Yeah I didn't do the unplugging thing, but when it fails I just click off to the iTunes store and then back to the iPhone panel to run it all over again

just upgraded my software and now the phone doesnt work,what a bummer!! its like losing a limb.

I was first in line this morning at the Apple Store Mayfair in Wauwatosa, WI. We stayed at the store for an hour to try to get the phone to activate but, as others have already said, iTunes seems to be down. I brought the iPhones home and am continuing to attempt to get them activated. Since we ported our phone number from Verizon our old phones are now not working and since our iPhones aren't working yet we are left without a real phone. I've been trying to use iCall to make some important calls but the latency has been terrible. Maybe I'll try Skype next time.
I don't think I've ever been so disappointed with Apple.

no different in MI i spent 80mn on hold with apple support to find out what all of you are saying "Sorry i guess you will have to wait" Really at what cost to you?? MF

Reeled in like a sucker fish. Now Iā€™m dangling with my first generation phone in emergency mode actually tempted to dial 911 ! Apple should have pre-released 2.0 before launching the new 3G phone. Who the heck is in charge of strategy over there?

So, all Bull**** aside! Will I be able to get my phone back on today?? Thats what I want to know!... I asked apple support and those people are champs at dodging questions!!

Got mine working finally. As soon as the "could not complete" or "no response" whatever dialog comes up I just kept hitting ok. Then I click to the iTunes store, then click back to the iPhone device panel. Finally started activation and synced everything, works like a charm now. The only thing is iTunes is still a bit bogged down so I can't get apps very quickly, and for some reason I can't sync up the apps that I have downloaded yet.

ok nevermind i can sync now, if you bypass the 'iTunes' access by right clicking on the iPhone device, and just hit "sync" or 'transfer purchases' instead it will push your data. Heck that might even get some of the 2G apps out of brick mode.

Sorry to everyone for all hassle. Please be patient. If you don't sue me, uncle Steve will let you into Mac heaven when you die... where everyone is a Mac-happy Borg.

is it back up yet. I had to go to work with a crashed phone, but I can run back home at lunch if the darn servers are working again. any updates from anyone?

Keep trying. It took a while, but I finally got mine activated. Don't just let is sit there after you get the network connection error, switch to the iTunes Store or a playlist and then back to your device and it will try again. Repeat until it finally gets through. I played this game for 30 minutes but finally unbricked my phone. I think if you just let it sit there without re-trying, it won't ever get anywhere.

This is horrible i tried upgrading my old iphone to 2.0 and it keeps saying to check me connection is anybody else saying the same thing?

Word on the street is activation can only handle x amount of concurent connections. If your x +1, you get the error message. However thousands are being completed every minute, so keep trying and you will eventually get a spot.

It's the same in Florida. The iPhone 3G isn't activated yet and my old iPhone can't make calls. And I was in line for 5 hours, which isn't as bad as some ppl, but still, I'd would have liked it to be activated

In Chicago, still unable to activate. Been going back & forth between Store and iPhone for over 2 hours with no success.

Well considering that I only got like 4 hours of sleep. I think I'm going to take a nap. Hopefully this thing will be resolved by the time I get up. Thank god I got the day off today.

I just really want to know how long they are going to take to fix this. I'm thinking of getting a second line, different phone, because of the fact that I am completely out of a phone right now. They should have split both launches, so things like this don't happen.

Its true. This should have been iPhone launch week. Monday they start it at 12 am-8 am, Tuesday 8 am- 4pm, Wed 4pm - 12 am, Thurs. 12am - 8am and Fri all day.

my 2G iphone was dead after updating to 2.0, but if you plug it in and just wait and keep hitting o.k. after each error message it will update and re-sync. You have to leave it plugged in for more than 20 minutes, iTunes is reloading my phone as I write this, it's almost like there is a que that is first come first serve, so hang in there!!!!

The fact that apple hasn't even acknowledged the problems worries me a lot. Is this a problem that will take hours to fix? Days? Can our phones actually start working again? This makes me wish I never bought an iphone.

Indeed I agree as well. Apple should do an immediate press release acknowledging this as a valid issue and their plan of action. Leaving everyone hanging with no phone by no fault of ATT is really poor business practice. The product is top notch, but what good is it if you cant use it. Sigh...I wait on.

Finally after two hours got through to apple and Alan said we are screwed. No Idea when the server will be up and your just out of luck. Great customer service.

Finally after two hours got through to apple and Alan said we are screwed. No Idea when the server will be up and your just out of luck. Great customer service. Wonder if there is a clause in the 2 year service contact to get out.

So what do they do with all of these previous apple owners? Give us new phones? Tell us it's our problem? They have to fix itunes, otherwise there is going to be a lot of people wanting their money back. They need to do some kind of press release. And just now as I hear on the news apple isn't commenting.

Hey , hope, I decided I would follow someones advice. Just hit phone until message then back to store then phone...etc. Over and over for about 40 min. Im activated. Don't give up guys

Thank god mine just starting to sync u definetly should try after every error message click on the itunes store then back on your device i have been doing so for the past 30 minutes clicking ok then the itunes store then back to the your device intill it works

I must have tried 100 times and then all of a sudden at about 1:00 MT it just worked. I'm activated and currently synching calendar, contacts, etc, etc. Just keep trying and you'll eventually get in.

Mine and my boss' phone's are both now up and running. I think Apple just hit the magic button.

First in line at Rogers here, got in at 10am, Rogers was already down and unable to activate new phones. Finally got an activation around 12pm but by then iTunes was down and couldn't unbrick. Took it home and it unbricked around 1pm but couldn't sync. Finally started syncing at 3pm.
Need more bigger pipes here peoples! Next time release 2.0 update day after new phones come out maybe?

After several hours, literally several hours. i finally got through. It is now activated and i am beginning the movement of information. I would like to thank everyone for their posts. it was the light in the darkness.
Steve Jobs, If you read this it is important for you to understand how big of a disappointment this issue is.

i just got original iPhone updated...Finally! Here's what i did, mabye it will help you guys out:
I downloaded the 2.0 update and yes my phone then became a brick. I was patient for awhile then thought to hard reset my iPhone. Holding both buttons down for ten seconds and let it come back. After that i plugged into my CPU and BLAM! started syncing up. Hope this helps, or mabye i just got lucky. good luck

4 hours in southern indiana--- switching back and forth. not sure if it worked or not but i am finally there- thank god

Got a text message to my iPhone saying something like "Welcome to ATT...", and all of a sudden my phone works (make calls and go online).
I know I didn't go through the activation process through iTunes, but I guess somehow they (ATT or Apple) went through people's contracts and doing the activation for them. However, like someone pointed out the syncing thru iTunes is still not working, but at least the phone works.
...after about 7 hours of $#%@$# at iTunes

Mine started working at 12 pacific time,as I pretty much had given up. Everything seems to be working, all my contacts, pictures are there, email is quick. I wish Apple would issue an apology. I think after this Big incident, they won't do such a double release again, I seriously hope. Happy to have my phone back.

2:29am. Well I now have a nice new 2.0 update to my 2G iPhone. YAY! But it hesitates with gestures and closing apps, even after 2 restores. To top it off we still can't get our apps that made this update most wanted for those of us who won't benefit greatly from push for MS servers. Thanks Apple, you had to be greedy and couldn't give us early adopters a one day gift, now look how stupid you look. Hooray Steve Jobs

OK!! I left post 71 last night and I am glad to say as of 6:10PM the server has risen. (East Coast, USA)I can now download apps to itunes as well as straight from my iphone. The location things that pops up is obviously meant for iphone 3g but I dont have it. There is suppose to be a way to turn that off so it doesnt look every time you open a utility but haven't figured that out yet. good luck to everyone else out there.

Has anyone recently updated their iPhone? Mine is still the latest 1 firmware version because i want an iPhone not an iBrick.

Z, As I've said before it's fine for me here on the East coast and as far as I know the trouble are all over now. Give it a shot

49 apps to be updated and itunes and it keeps saying (network connection timed out please check connection and try again) i have done this multiple times and still i cant get my apps updated . even on my ipod touch , when i go into updates it says ( cannot connect to itunes) but all other apps show up and i can get into itunes store why why why why why why why why why. this is very frustrating . all other countries seem to have similar problems. i am i queensland Australia and am having same problems. WHEN WILL ITUNES BLOODY WELL FIX THIS PROBLEM. ipod wont connect as well now and says (not recognised) so i cant download any new apps. If apple are so great i would like this issue resolved a.s.a.p. if anyone knows why this is happenig could you please help me. many thanks in advance.
brad.

I just downloaded my itunes with the 3g iphone.. with help fr 1800myapple. I had to go to control panel unistall itunes then all 3 appls. by apple in control panel. then go to apple.com and do the new download of itunes just follow what it tells you. while your iphone is pluged into ur compt. you will see all your apps. downloading to your phone. let it sync then sutt off phone and let the program kick in.. good luck