My Super Collection of iPhone Sync Errors

Is it just me, or does iTunes come up with a different excuse for not syncing with the iPhone each and every day?

Don’t get me wrong – syncing is pretty reliable on the whole, and whenever an error does occur, a resync or reconnect usually sorts it out.

Still, I’m amazed at the sheer number of things that can apparently go wrong during syncing. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it? I must get an error dialog of some sort at least once a week.

So I started collecting them (sad I know). Here’s the collection I’ve built up so far, over the last few months…

The iPhone sync error hall of fame

First up, we have the good old Microsoft-style “‘unknown error occured’ followed by unhelpful number” dialog:


…and its close “iPhone with no name” cousin:


Hurrah – a slight improvement! It got the iPhone name right on this day, and gave me a whole new exciting random number to ponder over:


Damn! It’s forgotten the name of the iPhone again. That’ll teach my iPhone to respond invalidly:


If in doubt, just call it an “iPhone”:


Oh dear, we do seem to be having problems today don’t we, iTunes? Let me give you a clue – it’s called “Matt Doyle’s iPhone”:

could-not-be-identified-properly-450One end of cable is in iPhone. Other end is in Mac. What more do you want – blood?!


That’s funny – it worked half an hour ago:


Again – it was fine yesterday. So WTF is iTunes Helper? And why does iTunes need help today?


Override, override!!!


Not the cheeriest dialog on a Monday morning:


Not sure what the hell this means, but it doesn’t sound good:


I’ll remap your record identifiers in a minute, mate:


Backups are for wusses anyway:


I make that 14 different errors so far, and counting. Not bad!!

If I get any new ones I’ll add them to the list… 🙂

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11 Responses to “My Super Collection of iPhone Sync Errors”

  1. jsk Says:

    Love the one that claims iTunes couldn’t sync to “Matt Doyle’s iPhone” because a connection couldn’t be made.

    If a connection couldn’t be made, how’d you get the iPhone’s name (or the fact that it was even an iPhone)?!?

  2. Matt Says:

    @jsk: Good point! That is a bit of a puzzler… 🙂

  3. Simon Says:

    That is a collection of rare geeky genius mate!

  4. James Lee Says:

    I don’t have any dialogs to add, but I do have issues:
    1. iPhone starts showing numbers only, no names in Favorites and Contacts. To fix it sync using iTunes instead of the cloud.
    2. Fixed. Now I see every contact name, twice!

    Have had this happen repeatedly!

  5. Matt Says:

    @Simon: Why thank you! 🙂

    @James Lee: Haven’t had that one yet! This might help possibly?

  6. Gideon Says:

    I’m assuming you’ve tried restoring your iPhone. Or even re-installing your OS (archive should suffice).

    No-one should have that many sync errors. I don’t get any, ever.

  7. Matt Says:

    @Gideon: Wow, really? Either you’re very lucky, or I’m very unlucky (or both!). 🙂

    Yes I have restored my iPhone a couple of times (when I got the “Silver Apple of Death”). I might try an OS reinstall if the errors become a real problem, but right now they’re more of a minor annoyance than a problem.

    My gut feeling is that none of these sync errors are that serious – they’re just minor glitches as Apple irons out bugs. For example, the “disk could not be read from or written to” was completely bogus – the disk was fine, and the sync worked fine the second time.

    99% of the time, the sync works when I try it again.

    Also I do tend to push my Mac and iPhone to the limit a lot of the time (e.g. attempting to sync while I have 10 apps open including Firefox with 20 tabs and VMware running Windows, and my iPhone nearly out of free space). This probably doesn’t help! 🙂

  8. John Stevenson Says:

    Iphone sync error.

    This iphone could not be synced an unknown error occurred (-39)

  9. Matt Says:

    @John: Ha ha, I’d never seen that error before, but got it twice myself yesterday! Maybe it’s new in iTunes 9.2.1…

  10. Erika Says:

    That’s it! That is the one that I am getting and I have no idea what to do about it. I REALLY don’t want to restore my iPhone. This is the only place online that I can find that even references that error!

  11. Matt Says:

    @Erika: It wasn’t a problem for me, just annoying, and it’s gone away now (probably since updating either iOS or iTunes at a guess).