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How to fix iTunes error 3014 when upgrading iPhone firmware

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All error'd outPhoto credit: Simon Pow (Flickr)

GUIDE UPDATED FOR NEWER 3014 PROBLEMS – Please see bottom of post for details (March 2011)

Contrary to many of the guides and articles we post on this site, this isn’t one to do with jailbreaking your iPhone!  It stems from our experiences of helping a work colleague get their iPhone back up and running after it got stuck applying an iOS version update.  The chances are you’ve arrived here after a Google search having had similar problems – hopefully we can help you out too!

The work colleague in question had a stock O2 iPhone 4 that he’d backed up before telling iTunes it was okay to go ahead and update to the latest (4.0.1) iOS software.  After waiting over an hour for the iPhone to progress beyond a screen showing “Preparing iPhone” he gave up and hard rebooted his device.  When he did so, the “connect to iTunes” screen was displayed on his handset and no matter what he did, iTunes would then attempt to fully restore the handset but would fail to do so displaying error 3014.

We know that iTunes error numbers in the 3000s are to do with communication failing or time outs.  We replaced the sync cable, swapped USB ports and tried all the various solutions offered by Google, but in the end, we managed to get the handset up and running by doing the following:

  1. Upgraded iTunes to the latest version available and rebooted our computer (in our case 9.2.1)
  2. Downloaded the iPhone 4.0.1 firmware directly from Apple manually***
  3. Hard rebooted the iPhone (press and hold both home and the power button until an Apple logo appears)
  4. Popped the sim card out of the handset
  5. Connected the iPhone to our computer and when iTunes told us it had detected a device requiring a recovery we shift clicked restore** (held down shift on the keyboard and clicked the restore button) within iTunes*
  6. We browsed to the location where we’d saved the firmware we downloaded in step 2 and left iTunes to do its thing with the iPhone
  7. When the iPhone rebooted having successfully applied the firmware we re-inserted the sim card, waited for the iPhone to tell us it was activated
  8. We ask iTunes to re-apply the most recent backup it had to the device, thus restoring configuration and content.

*=We ensured that we were connecting the iPhone to our computer directly and not via any kind of USB hub

**=Shift clicking is a Windows process.  On a Mac you would hold down your “option” key and click restore

***=This list iOS 4.0.1 firmware is for the iPhone 4 only.  For links for the 3G & 3GS handset appropriate hardware, please click the relevant model name.

Note: This guide assumes that the computer you are going to use is connected to the Internet and is NOT behind a proxy server (for example, isn’t your work PC).  There are known problems with iTunes being able to communicate with Apple’s authentication servers from behind firewalls.

Hopefully the above steps will help you out of your situation.  If not, please feel free to ask in our comments section below and we’ll attempt to offer advice; however whilst researching our colleagues problem, we did come across a large number of people who have experienced upgrade errors and have had to get their device swapped out by Apple, who have done so in many cases without even attempting to restore problematic devices themselves since they have allegedly seen so many of them!

LATEST UPDATE: March 2011

Some users may find that an entry has been added to their hosts file designed to point all iTunes authentication requests to a specific server. This needs to be taken out in order to assist those of you still seeing a problem after doing the above.

On Windows:

Browse to c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\

Open hosts by right clicking the file and selecting to open with Notepad

Look for an entry that looks like 74.208.10.249 gs.apple.com or 127.0.0.1 gs.apple.com

Delete this line and save the file

Try your restore again

On Mac:

Same as the Windows steps but your hosts file is in /private/etc/

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