The iPhone comes equipped with two separate troubleshooting modes, DFU mode, and Recovery Mode. The differences between the two may be confusing, but the following guide will help the average user decide which one is best to use for any particular circumstance.
Whenever an iPhone runs into complicated issues that don’t seem to stop, or if they nearly disable a device completely, either DFU or Recovery mode can help an iPhone regain complete functionality.
It may be common knowledge about how to put a device into these two modes, but the difference between them isn’t always obvious. Because they are so significant, this article will explain their use, and what makes them each important.
DFU vs Recovery
You need to attach the phone or iPad to a computer to initiate either mode.
DFU (Device Firmware Update) Mode allows an iPhone or iPad to communicate with iTunes, even without a bootloader or iOS. It allows your device to be restored from any state.
DFU mode gives you a little more control and lets you change the firmware installed on the phone. For example, if you want to install an earlier iOS onto your device, DFU mode is required.
Recovery Mode simply restores a device to its original factory settings, updated to the latest iOS and firmware. Ex: If an iOS device is not responding, or if updating through Software Update isn’t working, recovery mode can fix the problem.
When it’s in recovery mode, you see the apple logo and the lightning cable icon.
If Recovery Mode doesn’t work to solve a device issue, DFU mode can help diagnose the problem and even solve it. When the phone is in DFU mode, nothing will appear on the screen.
Recovery Mode gives you the option to simply update your phone which does not delete your data, or restore it, which does delete your data.
DFU mode will always wipe all your data. It’s always a good practice to double check everything is backed up and up to date before going into either mode. Even when things go perfectly, data can be lost.
This article does not describe how to put a phone into DFU mode, but this is how you put the latest devices into recovery mode:
Before entering recovery mode, ensure that the chosen computer is running the latest version of iTunes. Make sure Find My iPhone is off and be sure to back up the phone just in case something goes wrong. Even if everything goes perfectly, it’s better to always keep your data backed up.
Step 1. Connect the device to the computer with iTunes installed. Launch iTunes, and check that the device appears on the screen.
Step 2. Press and release the volume up button on the phone, then repeat with the volume down button. Then press and hold the side (lock) button until the recovery mode screen appears.
Step 3. Two options should appear on the computer. Restore, or Update phone.
3a. If you choose to Restore: All the data will be deleted, and the latest version of iOS will be installed, and you’ll be left with a brand new (on the inside) phone.
3b. If you choose Update, your data will not be touched, and the latest version of iOS will be installed. It’s just like installing a new version of iOS from any other method.
Neither mode can function if Find my iPhone is turned on. To turn this off, go into Settings then My Apple ID, iCloud, then Find my iPhone and toggle the switch.
How to Exit Recovery Mode:
Once the updating or restoring process is finished, the phone is automatically ejected from recovery mode and it will boot up normally according to the option you chose. However, if you do not wish to choose an option, or have entered recovery mode as a mistake, simply unplug the device and hold the side (lock) button until it wakes up again. Nothing should be amiss.
Please do not unplug the phone or break recovery mode half-way through restoring the phone, or some if not all of your data will be lost, and you’ll have to repeat the process to finish reinstalling the iOS.
How to put an iPhone 7 into Recovery Mode:
Step 1: Connect the device to the computer with iTunes installed. Launch iTunes, and check that the device appears on the screen.
Step 2: Press and hold the side (lock) button until it says to power off the device. Follow the instructions and turn off the phone.
Step 3: Press and hold the side (lock) button again until the connect to iTunes screen appears.
To disconnect is the same as with the newer versions: Simply unplug the device and turn it back on by holding down the side and volume buttons until the apple logo appears.
How to put an iPhone 6, iPhone SE or earlier or an iPad into recovery mode:
Step 1: Turn off the device by holding down the lock button until the power-off screen appears, then follow the instructions.
Step 2: Press and hold the home button down. Do not let go.
Step 3: Plug the device into the computer with iTunes running.
Step 4: Let go of the home button when the connect to iTunes screen appears. iTunes will tell you when the phone connects.
To Exit Recovery Mode with These Devices:
Step 1: Press and hold the home and power button until the screen (still on the recovery mode screen) turns off or goes blank.
Step 2: Release the home button but continue to hold down the lock button until the device turns back on with the apple logo.
If the buttons become too confusing, or if you’re unsure about which type of iPhone you have, you can install the iPhone Management tool ReiBoot on the computer. This can allow you to enter recovery mode with just a click of the mouse, and it also can fix a number of issues with the software of an iPhone including frozen on an Apple logo, or the black or blue screens of death.
These are the Do-it-yourself tips and tricks to fixing some of those pesky freezing iPhone issues on your own, but if going into recovery or DFU mode makes you nervous, then take your iPhone to the nearest Apple Store or other Certified Phone Repair guy, and let the experts handle the software.
If the device is new, you may be eligible for replacement or free repair by apple, so you can be able to get a working device without breaking the bank. Even when taking it to an expert, be sure to protect your data, and back it up.
You would also like to read these posts: