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iOS update woes prompt gnashing of teeth for Apple fans

Mass errors rain on iCloud launch

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Updated Apple released the much-anticipated iOS 5 update for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches on Wednesday, an update that was almost immediately met with error messages by throngs of users trying to download it from the company's servers.

The errors, according to accounts on Apple support pages and this Cult of Mac report, carried messages indicating Apple servers couldn't keep up with demand. A separate report from Business Insider said users were receiving warnings their devices couldn't be restored.

Neither Rik nor his iPhone are happy

"To anyone getting 'An internal error occurred.' (3200) while installing iOS 5.0, Apple's servers are swamped, and failing half the requests," iOS developer and jailbreaker Jay Freeman, aka Saurik, said in a Tweet. Other users reported receiving errors codes of 5000. Many users reported their updates eventually succeeded, sometimes after as many as 10 failed attempts.

The errors came the same day that Apple opened its long-gestating iCloud, an online repository that syncs Contacts, Calendars, Mail, Photos, and iTunes to a user's multiple devices. After the debacle involving Apple's now-abandoned MobileMe service, Wednesday's glitches are an embarrassing reminder that there are notable exceptions to the Mac tagline "It just works."

Users who haven't updated their iDevices yet are probably better off waiting until Apple admins bring in reinforcements. ®

Update

When we received the error message in the screenshot above, we clicked the More Information button and were sent to an Apple support page entitled "iOS: Resolving update and restore alert messages".

After verifying, as advised, that we had the correct versions of iTunes (10.5) and Mac OS X (10.7.2), we obeyed step number three – "Disconnect all USB devices" – tried the upgrade again, and were met by the following error message:

Ah, an error code! Now we're getting somewhere...

Checking another Apple support page – "iTunes: Specific update-and-restore error messages and advanced troubleshooting" – we found the listing for error 3004: "If the steps listed in Error 3000-3999 do not resolve the issue, and you are using a Mac, you may be able to resolve an error 3004 by quitting iTunes and using the following command at the command line: dscacheutil -flushcache".

So we fired up the Terminal, entered the magic term, and hit return. Reopening iTunes and restarting the update procedures, we were asked:

Cross your fingers and hope that your backup is healthy

Not feeling that we had much of a choice at this point, and trusting our backup, we went ahead. After clicking through a number of other dialogs and long – reeeaaally long – waits for the restorer, updater, backup restoration, and re-synching to chug along, our trusty ol' iPhone 3GS was reborn, now running iOS 5.

The total time we wasted – in addition to the goodly chunk of time spent downloading the 668MB iOS 5 updater – was well over an hour, and we have only about 10GB of stuff on our iPhone. Your mileage may vary.

Apple devices: "They just work." Eventually.

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