Please do this before you upgrade to iOS 7.1.2!

iOS 7.1.2 has caused some problems for some iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. Here's how you can avoid ruining your day

Last week Apple released iOS 7.1.2, a maintenance update to iOS with some iBeacon, data transfer and Mail improvements. Most iPhone, iPod touch and iPad owners have been able to update with no issues. Some, however, have run into big problems with the update — enough to brick their device. If you haven't upgraded yet, follow these instructions before you do to help avoid problems.

The same day the update was released, some users experienced a freezing problem. That was fairly easy to recover from by rebooting the device.

I work for an Apple retailer on the weekends, and this past weekend a cluster of customers came in with iPhones and iPads that were in Recovery Mode — their screens displayed a globe icon and an image of a sync cable. All of them had one thing in common: they had tried to upgrade to iOS 7.1.2 and something had gone very wrong along the way.

Fortunately, we were able to get their devices working again. Unfortunately, a few of them didn't have backups, and those customers lost the data on their device.

I submitted the question to my Twitter followers. Many of you were able to update with no problem, including some in IT who were able to update large numbers of devices without issue. Others ran into serious problems that necessitated recovering the device.

Here's a handy primer on Recovery Mode and how to deal with it:

So if you haven't already updated your iOS device to iOS 7.1.2, I strongly recommend you back it up before you do. That way, if anything goes wrong, at least you won't lose any data. Even if you're using iCloud to back up your device.

It's really a good idea just in general to trigger a manual backup through iTunes before attempting any sort of operating system upgrade. Why take the risk? This is your important data — you don't want to deal with the hassle of losing stuff if you're not properly prepared.

Take this with a grain of salt, but most of the people I've spoken with who have had their phones and iPads drop into Recovery Mode have had the problem doing an Over The Air (OTA) backup — that is, they saw the update was available on their phone, waited until they got on Wi-Fi, then began the update.

Another way to do it is a little more old-fashioned: Use iTunes on your Mac or PC as the conduit to manage the update. Tether your device to your Mac using a sync cable and handle the update through iTunes instead of doing it like some crazy magician, using nothing but the air and invisible radio waves.

It's a thought. Your mileage may vary.

Bottom line: If something goes wrong with your iOS 7.1.2 update — or any system update, have a recent backup to recover from. If a problem happens during the update, having that recent backup readily available changes the situation from a crisis to a minor inconvenience. And really, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Very useful advice. I am OCD about backing up. Can't be too careful.
  • I had this problem too. Backups are key.
  • Any reports of battery drains?? Sent from the iMore App
  • No more than usual. I see people complaining, but I see people complain about battery life after every software update. Either some software on the phone is acting up or a restore will help, typically.
  • When you say restore, do you recommend just doing a "Restore Backup" through iTunes? Or is it better to completely wipe it then restore it from a backup during the initial setup? Not to sound like "that guy" but my battery life is pretty abysmal after the update and I can't find anything that would be running in the background to cause any significant drain. Thanks.
  • If you jailbreak save your data with Pkgbackup and make sure to save your springboard data. Transfer all your app purchases over to iTunes so you can get them back. Then restore using iTunes but do not bring your backed up data back. Instead copy your apps back over using iTunes and restore their organization by using Pkgbackup springboard data. That way you have a fresh restore but at least your app organization comes back without all the other data that can cause your phone issues (ie faster battery drains, etc.).
  • hey, sorry to gatecrash the past but I'm STUCK, and you sound like a dude in the know... I don't WANT to upgrade (chrome on ios already sluggish) BUT I NEED iMIDI, and the only wired(usb,MS) solution requires 7.1(.1, I think) So 1) can I upgrade to a previous update,? like 7.1 instead of 8.3?
    + 2) can I undo any operation? (currently on 7.0.6, would like to be able to restore, if possible) (bonus q if anyone's interested - performance report on latency with MIDI over bluetooth on iOS8... any good?!) many thanks, aspiring musical digital deity
  • Completely wipe it, then restore it.
  • Great, thanks!
  • I had my new iPhone 5s rendered unusable by 7.1.1! It kept showing the iTunes logo and when I attempted restore, it kept saying there was an error and couldn't do it. I provided the error code to Apple and they said I needed a new handset. That arrived Monday, and while setting up, it asked me to update to 7.1.2 (while tethered). I went ahead and things worked fine afterwards. Until my screen went black. I tried using it, power, home buttons, nothing! Hard reset? Nope. Still black. Plugged it into the computer and it detected iPhone in recovery mode. I went through the restore process again and as it neared the end, the screen lit up with the white apple. "Oh good!" I thought. Then the writing started appearing on the top of the screen "debugger mode : double panic. Operating system : not yet set" on and on about kernel slides and a day and date from May 2014. Then calendar : 000000 x 0000 maps : 000000x 0000 etc etc. I called Apple and they told me I now have a major firmware issue! New handset (the THIRD!) is on it's way. Meantime the phone works...sometimes. Other times the screen goes bright blue, then pinstripes, fade to white then black, then dead for a while. After a time it seems to reset itself and go through hard reset, back to my screensaver. And every time it does a reset, it takes 20-30% of my battery with it! It just did t just now, from 99 to 69% in two minutes!! Frankly, I'm sick of this. All seems down to Apple's poor code or something!!
  • That just made me very wary of upgrading my devices, not to mention the other devices I manage (close family members). I miss the old "just works" Apple.
  • This isn't new or recent. It's always been this way, since the first time an OS install ever went south in probably the 1950s. Whenever you change system software, you run the risk of data loss. It's always been true, it is true, and it likely will always be true. Key thing to take away is this: Don't be afraid, be prepared. Backup early and backup often! :D
  • Nothing to be concerned about, @Carioca32. Every company has these kinds of issues with OTA updates. It's hardly ever due to plain incompetence. Software updates are just a tricky and delicate process. Everyone has different apps installed, different settings chosen, and different idiosyncrasies left behind from previous OTA's.
    If I had to guess, the majority of OTA failures are due to a *previous* update not installing 100% properly.
    Lots of users, lots of reasons.
    So no worries, my friend--your iPhone, iPad, iPod, and all those things still "just work". Don't fear OTA updates. Embrace them. Be excited when they come around! Just take the precautions outlined here, and you'll always be fine.
  • Bull. If the same problem had happened to a Windows update you'd be all over it.
  • What the heck are you talking about, friend?? I'm not even into iPhones--but I support them at work, and also for family. I know how OTAs are. Same with Android. No OTA goes 100% smoothly. I don't care what operating system it is.
    What it sounds like to me, is you think WP8 doesn't get enough credit. (or something..) Regardless, I wouldn't have said a word about it. Nobody else would have either.
  • I just got my iphone replace on a different issue yesterday but I don't want to install 7.1.2 because I noticed a big difference on battery drain on the other phone. Sent from the iMore App
  • I noticed this battery issue on my iphone 5........ and its even worse than that, my iphone is shutting down every time i get to 17% of battery life
  • This problems means that the battery is going bad. Gradually you will start to the the phone turn off at a greater percentage. It wont be consistent, but it will be gradual.
  • I always perform a manual backup before I update the OS on my devices.
  • I agree with the backup advice. Honestly though, Apple should make that a prompt that requires a checkbox and "proceed" to do an update when a backup wasn't done within X hours (leaving X for a separate discussion, personally 6 hours I think is reasonable). That way, you could proceed without it, or force a backup first. Don't know though if an iPhone retains when it was last synced with iTunes if one is using that versus iCloud.
  • I agree that it should be a requirement to have a backup either to iCloud or iTunes should be required before very update, no matter how minor. Even having a backup within the last 24 hours would be better than no backup at all. Sent from the iMore App
  • 'nuf said.
  • I have to say, it's truly "magic". Lol Sent from the iMore App
  • I've actually taken to making a backup of the backup iTunes makes. I've run into situations where iTunes will automatically start a backup after a restore which overwrites the backup I just made manually with a backup containing a fresh iOS install! This Apple support doc tells you where to find the backups that iTunes makes: I copy my backup folder to the desktop just long enough that if something goes awry I can drop a copy back into the folder that iTunes looks at and restore from it.
  • My iPhone 5s is acting a bit sluggish since the update. Since iOS 7 came out the most useful update for me was 7.1 because it finally made TouchID usable for me (and still is to this day) all great advice though & I can't believe in this day & age of having iCloud to back up automatically back up for you some people still don't back up their phone.
  • I found this out the hard way also, I had gone on holiday and saw the update when I got free WiFi, decided to update and the worst case scenario happened, all my data lost and my backups at home. Luckily I managed to get most things back when I got home, minus a few camera roll photos but luckily they're in my Photo Stream. Sent from the iMore App
  • So, no one's phones were bricked by the failed update?
  • Yeah, no one had bricked phones. Bricking implies that the device has become so corrupt that there is no chance at recovering even the operating system without sending it in to the manufacturer. It seems some people just had to restore their devices since it entered recovery, the state designed to protect users from bricking their devices Posted via iMore App
  • "I strongly recommend you back it up before you do. That way, if anything goes wrong, at least you won't lose any data. Even if you're using iCloud to back up your device." This doesn't make sense. What do you mean? Backing up via itunes on the computer even if you're backing up to icloud? That doesn't work, as you either backup to icloud or your desktop. If it's backed up via icloud, is it less backed up than if you back up to your desktop?
  • If you create an iCloud backup, then connect your phone to iTunes and create a backup to your computer, the iCloud backup isn't deleted. It's not necessarily an either/or proposition. In some sense, backing up to iCloud is "less backed up" than on your desktop because those backups are not directly under your control. It's on a server somewhere where there is always a possibility (however unlikely) that it could be overwritten or corrupted. With an iTunes backup, you have access to the backup files. As I said in a post above, I go so far as to make a copy of iTunes' backup so that there is no chance it will be overwritten by iTunes itself!
  • iTunes backups also keep your passwords to your mail accounts. If, like me, you have multiple email accounts with randomized passwords (or Google's per-device passwords), then it is very convenient to not have to re-enter those credentials.
  • Can you tell me where I can locate the backup on my computer?
  • "Take this with a grain of salt, but most of the people I've spoken with who have had their phones and iPads drop into Recovery Mode have had the problem doing an Over The Air (OTA) backup — that is, they saw the update was available on their phone, waited until they got on Wi-Fi, then began the update." What, the problem was that they waited until they got home and began the update? You mean they shouldn't have waited until they were doing the backup over wifi?
  • My point is not to do it OTA, to update via iTunes.
  • While I did not have a data loss or the Recovery Mode issue, I updated my iPad (3rd gen) to 7.1.2 via iTunes and it still hung like my iPhone 5 did when trying OTA. (I will always do a backup/restore when doing an upgrade via iTunes, so it wouldn't have been that big a deal. But my point is that the iTunes route still wasn't bulletproof for me.)
  • The update froze my phone as well. Fortunately I sync through iTunes and always have it backed up. It took forever to recover, but I least I didn't lose any of my data.
  • I have a better idea. Don't update until Apple fixes the problem. A software update that causes some devices to freeze is unprofessional!
  • Hey, it happens. Humans aren't perfect. I'm sure they didn't want the end result of an update to brick your phone, so give them a chance to iron it out... Brought to you by the Nexus M8
  • Even betterer idea! Backup anyway, you need to. Also, a software update that has problems in the wild is reality. No amount of engineering will cause that to ever stop being a problem.
  • I agree ... backup anyway.
  • I had no reason to search to see if there was a problem with the update until nothing happened for over 30 minutes. I plugged my iPad into the power supply so it doesn't run out of power, but I don't think that's going to solve my problem. Guess I should try to reboot and do recovery.
  • I update 3-iphones and 2-ipads without a problem. My third iPad wasn't so lucky. After the update the iPad would not restart. I tried everything. At times to would power in recovery mode but then go black. I brought the iPad to apple. They couldn't get it to power up. They hooked it up to a computer and there was an error message showing that there was a "firmware" problem. This iPad is 17 months old, therefor, out of warrantee. It is in mint condition, even the so called "genius" at apple commented on the condition of the iPad. Unfortunately that didn't change his thoughts about fixing my iPad. He wanted to charge me $299 for a replacement because it was out of warrantee. After discussing this with the manager for over an hour and a half he agreed to replace the iPad. I really don't understand why they had me sit there for over 2 hours arguing about this. It was clearly the fault of the software update and in the end they agreed. Don't get me wrong, I'm appreciative that they replaced it, but that's what they should have done as soon as I walk in the store.
  • Except that the terms of your warranty state twelve months, not seventeen. Past that, it's at Apple's discretion as to how they handle it. They did what they should have done... Replace it, but things like that often aren't easily done out of warranty.
  • I think if their update breaks your device, then they should have to replace it!
  • I agree. My iPhone 5 bricked during update and the "genius" at the apple store said it was a hardware issue and it would cost $259 to fix/replace phone which was 4 months outside of the 1 year warranty. Apple recommends you perform these updates but don't warn you that the update could brick your phone. Very lucrative move for apple. That galaxy is looking really good right now. Hopefully Samsung will stand behind their products when there are tech issues and not try to pass the cost of their issues off on their customers. Something tells me that Steve jobs would have owned this problem.
  • Never had any issues when updating OTA. Always made sure I had 90% battery or more and always had a fresh back-up. Never had to use it. I have the 5S and iPad mini with retina. I always made sure I waited a day or two after the initial onslot of updates and also did my updates early morning around 3:00am. I figured less people crashing the Apple server. If that means anything I don't know but never had issues on either device. It just always works. Thank You Apple.
  • The big problem with me that every time I try to watch a video on YouTube the sound faster than the image and the image run too much slow even on YouTube site on safari. Sent from the iMore App
  • FWIW, no problems here with any of the devices in my household... iPhone 5s, 5, 4s, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad 2, etc. I agree with Peter with regard to backup policy, updating tethered via iTunes, etc. I suppose that's just my IT background speaking, but I would hope having a backup strategy is just common sense.
  • I've been holding off on my 2 devices. They're working fine now and I've heard to many questionable things about the latest update. I usually don't wait but I'm glad I did this time. Sent from the iMore App
  • Did an OTA update on an iPhone 4S, 5S, and iPad 2. No problems at all. All three are 64 GB units.
  • I just updated to 7.1.2 a few minutes ago via iTunes. Everything went smoothly. I was a bit nervous when it was first released last week because of all the problems that had been reported. Thanks for all the tips Sent from the iMore App
  • This happen to me it's a good thing I had a backup
  • Everytime i upadate my Retina iPad mini or my iPhone 5S i di it by iTunes i don't trust OTA the only oriblem i all the time have with the iPad is safari it always scratch almost everytime i whatch videos on Facebook Sent from the iMore App
  • I ALWAYS backup to my computer PRIOR to updating. Way to scared that something like this will happen. Plus, I've had trouble with other updates to the point where I've had to reset the phone and start over.
  • Great article Peter. Did our iPhones through iTunes on my iMac. No problem. Did iPad OTA and even though update was fine I noticed that Safari started running much slower and several apps started crashing. Did reset through iTunes and no problems since then. Sent from the iMore App
  • My phone went into recovery mode when I tried to run the update. Fortunately, my phone had automatically backed up just prior to the update. Still, I was pretty irked about it especially since I did not have iTunes installed on my computer and had to go through all the rigamarole to install it first. On the bright side, once I restored my backup I had an extra 8 GB of space that I didn't have before the update!
  • Maybe I am cold hearted or whatever but I don't feel sorry for people who lose their data.
    Too many ways to make sure that doesn't happen, all of them free.
    If you don't or won't back up, it's YOUR fault you lost all your stuff.
  • What a jerk you are!
  • I had to recover my sister-in-law's iPhone for her. She tried to do the update wirelessly and it failed miserably...took about 4 hours to get it recovered, download the new update and get it all going again...what a PITA!!!!
  • I plugged mine in for the back up. It froze after itunes said it was done. I waited 20 more min and nothing. Unplugged, reset the phone(iphone5) and it was all good and updated. Sent from the iMore App
  • I did this for the *update, above i said back up Sent from the iMore App
  • That's exactly what happened to my ipad 2.
  • My iPad Air froze during an OTA, and went into recovery mode when I did a hard reset. I had to update and restore my iPad via iTunes, then restore from iCloud backup. My iPhone updated OTA without any issue. Almost seems like a random issue. Sent from the iMore App
  • Thank you Peter. Glad I didn't updated it yet.
  • Hi. thanks for this good article. I use an iPhone 5. i did an ugrade to iOs 7 1 2 last week, before reading your article. thankfully it was only a freeze that was sorted out with a hard re boot. Phone is in use, can make / receive calls, can mail, surf etc., so 99% ok. However I'm facing other problems like my phone automatically *tries to* pair with my car bluetooth when I enter my car with phone bluetooth on but _it_does_NOT_pair. I end up in a state / situation where the iPhone thinks it is paired with car audio, but no music comes our of either the iPhone or car audio !! Only a switch off the phone and re start gets it right So, what should I do to get over this issue ? Is there a way to re do the 7 1 2 update ? if so how ? Or else what else to do thanks in advance
  • I had major problems with ios 7.1 that caused me to go through 3 iPod touch 5 gen. They cycled through the apple screen and black screen. I would be able to get about have my apps installed then it would freeze and cycle through the screens. I currently have ios 7.0.3 on the new one and I'm hesitant to upgrade until ios 8 comes out, if even then. My initial update to ios 7.1 was over wifi, so I have the feeling that maybe I was always installing a bad update. Could this be possible? I tried the installation on the later iPods through iTunes but it never downloaded another copy of the ios 7.1 update. So it must of used the first one every time. What do you recommend I have a Best Buy Extended warranty on it, but if it messes up this ipod I can't afford the new warranty on a new ipod. Do I have to do these updates or can I just wait for the ios 8 to come out?
  • i did every thing you said but still having problems my any app i try to open it crash and the itunes simple keeps showing up with the cable it happend more than 5 times and just keeping on restoring what should i do my phone is iphone 4
  • Wish I'd seen this before I upgraded. It would have saved me a world of hurt and lost data!
  • Same here... I can't believe that the problem still exists more than a month after it was obvious many people had problems with the 7.1.2 update. I did it yesterday and got locked into recovery mode on my wife's ipad mini. I updated my iphone 5s without problem and my daughter had no problem with another iphone 5s and another ipad mini. I don't like itunes (on Windows), but it is a necessity to do a full itunes backup before even trying that update.
  • i have iphone 4 want to upgrade from ios 6 to ios 7. i wanna know if upgrade thru my laptop is it going to save my notes in note pad in the iphone or is it going to be deleted coz i have lot of stuff there. thanxs
  • i have iphone 4 want to upgrade from ios 6 to ios 7. i wanna know if upgrade thru my laptop is it going to save my notes in note pad in the iphone or is it going to be deleted coz i have lot of stuff there. thanxs
  • My screen is not having full screen wallpaper is not displaying completely there is a portion remain blank in the home screen I am using iPhone 4 it's all happened when updated to 7.1