iPhones and iPads are pretty good at recovering automatically when they experience issues. Still, there are times when they need a helping hand. We’ve talked before about some basic troubleshooting steps for when your device won’t power on—performing a hard reset and restoring iOS itself—but the final step on that troubleshooting journey, when nothing else works, is the Device Firmware Update (DFU) mode.
Whether you’re jailbreaking, dealing with an expired beta version of iOS, or have just fallen afoul of that latest software update, you might find yourself in a position where your iPhone or iPad refuses to respond. For those situations, getting your device into DFU mode and then performing an iOS update or restoration via iTunes might be your only recourse.
While it’s not a complicated procedure, it can seem daunting. For one thing, the method for entering a device into DFU mode changed when Apple launched the iPhone 7 and then changed yet again with the iPhone 8.
And we’d like to stress this once again: This procedure should be a last resort in your troubleshooting process. You’re going to wipe all the data on your device and then either start over or load a backup. You do have a backup, don’t you?
Step One: Connect Your Device to Your PC or Mac and Open iTunes
You’ll also need to make sure you’re using the latest version of iTunes on your PC or Mac and that you have a Lightning cable handy. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a Lightning cable and open iTunes. This part will remain the same no matter which iPhone or iPad you are restoring.
Step Two: Mash Some Buttons
After connecting the device, you’ll perform a series of button presses to enter DFU mode. The buttons change depending on what version of iPhone you’re using (or if you’re using an iPad).
On iPhone 8, X, XR, XS, XS, and Newer Devices
Press and then release the Volume Up button. Press and then release the Volume Down button. Finally, press and hold the Side button until the iPhone displays a screen with the iTunes logo.
At this point, iTunes will recognize a device is connected while in DFU mode. Follow the instructions to restore or update the device as needed. Note that choosing Restore will wipe all of your data.
On the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus
Press and hold the Side button while simultaneously pressing and holding the Volume Down button. Keep holding both buttons until your iPhone displays a screen with the iTunes logo.
iTunes will now recognize a connected device is in DFU mode and guide you through either restoring or updating it as needed. Note that choosing Restore will wipe all of your data.
On the iPhone 6s (or Older) and All iPads
Press and hold the Home button and the Top or Side button simultaneously (the button location will be different depending on your device, but this is the button you use to sleep or wake the display). Keep holding them until your device displays a screen with the iTunes logo.
iTunes will now recognize that a connected device is in DFU mode. Finally, select the option to either restore or update your device, depending on which is required. Note that choosing Restore will wipe all of your data.
Step Three: Complete the Process
Once your iPhone or iPad is safely in DFU mode, and iTunes has downloaded and then updated or restored the latest version of iOS, your device will restart. Now, depending on whether you chose to update or restore, you will either be able to go about your day or have to go through the process of either setting your device up again or restoring from a backup via either iTunes or iCloud.
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