The iSlate Will Be Announced In

August 19, 2008

Stop iPhone Backups

If you've updated your iPhone to system 2, you've been wasting lots of time playing games on your iPhone and, unfortunately, wasting even more time waiting for your iPhone to "backup" each time you sync. We don't know what this is all about, but it stinks. This backup starts off every sync and is so slow that syncing has become a real pain in the ass.

Yes, we know you can wait for the backup to start and then click the little "X" to cancel the backup, but, what we didn't know until recently, was that when you click that little "X" and stop the backup, your are actually corrupting the backup file. Which means, if you restore your iPhone from that backup, your iPhone will have mucho problemos.

So, we did some digging and figured out how to tell iTunes to STOP backing up your iPhone. Remember, backing up is different than syncing--backing up only saves your favorites, your preference settings and the current state of your applications (like your notes and your high-scores...) Well, we don't think this stuff is all that important, and we certainly don't think it's worth waiting four or five hours to back up (that's how long it's taking for our iPhones to complete this part of the sync.) So we turned "backup" off and haven't looked back since.

To turn it off, you have to go into the terminal and type 1 command. We know a lot of your are saying, but I don't like to type things into the terminal, I'm worried it's gonna screw up my computer. Well, you're right, it can screw up your computer, but so can a lot of things. In this case, we think the benefit far outweighs the downside, so grow some stones and cut and paste one line into the terminal.

Here's the nitty-gritty:

QUIT itunes.
Open the terminal (Applications--->Utilities--->Terminal)
cut and past this exact line of text into the terminal:

defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool YES

push "return" and quit the terminal.

When you next sync, iTunes will not back up your iPhone.

If you want iTunes to return to backing up your iPhone, QUIT iTunes and type the same line into the terminal, except, change the YES to NO. In this manner you can go to and from backing up at your convenience.

We think it's a good idea to have 1 backup of your iPhone, and then turn this feature off. That way you will have a backup in an emergency (although in most iPhone emergencies it is recommended that you not restore your iPhone from a backup, so we're not sure it's worth even keeping one.) Either way, the choice is yours.

DFU Mode -- AKA "Don't F*ck Up" Mode

Just the other day, our assistant comptroller was downloading Circulate (on his iPhone) and all of a sudden the App Store crashed and the white Apple Logo appeared. No big deal, right? This happens all the time (which is another story altogether) so he sat and waited, and waited and waited... but the white logo never went away. He tried to turn his phone off--no luck. He tried a hard reset (holding down the power button and home button until the white logo appears) and although the screen went black for a second, when the logo reappeared, it never went away. By never, we mean that he could not turn off his phone... eventually, the battery died, and the white logo was replaced by the red empty battery logo.

Being an industrious employee of, he decided to plug his iPhone into his computer and have iTunes fix things. That didn't work either. Although iTunes could see his iPhone, he could not sync and the white logo remained. Double-hmmm. Having no other recourse, he decided it was time to "restore" his iphone to its virgin state. So he pushed the "restore" button in iTunes and after a few moments was greeted with a error message "Cannot restore this iPhone (error 1621)" After a long Google session, he realized that there is no information on the Internet about iPhones that will not shut off and receive error 1621 when restoring. This left only one option... the Genius Bar at his local Apple Store. So, he made an appointment, brought in his iPhone and told them the story of his troubles. And that's when the told him about the top-secret DFU mode.

Turns out his is not the only iPhone to exhibit this behavior. It happens all the time, but, there's a secret DFU mode that will save the phone and a trip to the Genius bar. Here's what you do.

Plug in your iPhone with the USB cable and open iTunes. Then, hold down the power button and the home button... when the iphone resets (after 5 to 10 seconds...) let go of the power button (the one on the top edge) and continue holding done the home button. Keep holding the home button and eventually iTunes will ask you if you want to restore your phone. Say yes.

Turns out this DFU mode restore is different than a normal restore... it's a low-level firmware restore, which can fix many problems that can't be fixed by a run-of-the-mill restore.

The "Genius" also suggested his iPhone crash may have been caused by a bit of corruption in a specific application's DRM. His suggestion was to re-download all of his applications (through iTunes) and then re-sync the newly downloaded applications onto the iPhone. This is a time consuming endeavor, but if you're having lots of iPhone crashes and/or your phone keeps resetting, it might be worth trying.