Backup your iPhone data. Right now.

Fortunately I didn’t have much on my iPhone.  What I did have was completely lost today.  It started with a  failed iPhone update (3.0 to 3.1).  My phone got bricked, and I frantically scoured the net for solutions to the problem.

It seems a lot of users on both Mac and Windows get this “1604” error when trying to perform an update on their iPhone/iPod Touch.  Honestly, I expect Apple stuff to work a lot more smoothly.  My wife and I *always* have trouble whenever there’s an OS update to our phones.  That’s why I had waited so long before finally grabbing 3.1.

I uninstalled and reinstalled iTunes about 5 times I think, as was suggested by several sites on teh intartubes, and even Apple’s support site.  Eventually, I had to boot my PC into Mac mode to get it to work.  (Yes, it’s a freakin’ Hackintosh.  I have it just for situations like this, and for testing web sites.)

I had a mistaken assumption that when iTunes synchronizes the phone will use the data on the computer instead of clobbering the computer’s data with whatever’s on the iPhone.  It turns out that you can restore your iPhone from an earlier backup just by right-clicking on it in iTunes…but you need to have data to restore from.  Over the course of several re-installs, I found out where my backup data was (on XP it’s in c:\documents and settings\yourusername\application data\apple computer\MobileSync\Backup\{big long string of characters}) and I moved my most recent data onto my desktop for safekeeping.  So when iTunes started up again, it saw that there was no recent folder in there and created a new one.  Later on I was trying to figure out how to restore my old data, and I move my folder back into the Backups folder and restared iTunes.  Then I synced data with the phone…then I cried.  Well, I didn’t actually cry, but I was kicking myself for moving the actual folder in there instead of a copy.  It got clobbered with blankness.

SO…go backup your iPhone data right now before you do any updates, etc.  Go to the path I mentioned above and make a COPY of your backup folders and put them somewhere safe (backup your backups).  Learn how to restore your iPhone data from backup.  Then, write Apple a letter telling them to make updates a little smoother.

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