When to Restart, Reset and Restore Your i-Device.

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Jan 8, 2012
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Many members of the iMore community experience problems with their i-devices and ask for assistance on advice on what to do. I won't get into details or specifics because a lot of those problems are somewhat unique, but I will give my opinion on when you should restore your i-device, including restoring "as new".

[TIP]From a personal standpoint, I follow the three troubleshooting rules when encountering problems with my i-device, which is rare, by the way:

1. Restart / Reboot
2. Reset
3. Restore

[NOTE]Note: The terminology used in this guide is related to Apple's use of the terms.
[INFO]Restarting your device means to turn it off, wait a few seconds, and then turn it back on, and to do that, Apple recommends that you, press and hold the sleep/wake button until the red "slide to power off" slider appears, and then slide the slider. After a few seconds, press the sleep/wake button until the Apple logo appears.

A reset, in regard to the device itself, is basically the same as a restart with the exceptions of using a different method. To reset your device, Apple recommends that you simultaneously press and hold the sleep/wake button AND the home button for ten seconds, until the Apple logo appears.

With that in mind, there are times when you may read about one member advising another member to "reset" network settings or reset all settings, etcetera. Using your i-device, go to Settings and then select "reset". You should see five items with the word "reset" preceding them. So that there won't be any confusion, a reset under these circumstances is basically a return to the default setting.

In regard to a "restore", it is used when you want to delete all user data from your device. That includes, video, photos, music and apps. Everything that didn't come pre-installed on the device is deleted. You are basically returning the i-device to its native state. To restore your device, you can simply connect it to your computer using the USB cable that came with your i-device, initiate your computer's iTunes app (it is preferred that you use the latest version) and then when iTunes recognizes your device, select it and then the "summary" tab and then select the "restore" option. Additionally, you can go to Setting-Reset, via your i-device, and then select "Erase All Contents and Settings". [/INFO]

[WARN]Get into the habit of making a backup of your i-device, especially before and after making changes and especially before restoring it. If not, you run the risk of losing your data.[/WARN]

[INFO]Having a little bit of knowledge of what restart, reset and restore are, the question becomes, "when do I use them?" The simple answer is this: whenever you're troubleshooting a problem with your device. It has been my experience that a mere restart or reset will remedy a majority of problems experienced by users. Why? I don't know. I simply know that it fixes a majority of issues and therefore, at the first sign of trouble with your device, perform a restart or a reset to see if that fixes the issue. Hopefully, it will, but if not, of course, ask for assistance from a knowledgeable friend, family member, forum members and Apple geniuses, to name a few.[/INFO] [NOTE]You can also read through the iMore forum and the Apple Support Site for information that might assist you.[/NOTE] [INFO]When all the aforementioned attempts have failed, a restore may be in order. As previously stated, a restore will remove everything that was not pre-installed on the device when you bought it. It is effective when it is believed that an unknown app or setting may be the culprit for the problem(s) you are experiencing. Earlier, I mentioned that there were five options in the settings menu that were preceded by the word, "reset". Hopefully without confusing you, the term, "reset", in the settings menu is equivalent to a restore but is specific only to those settings. I hope that made sense. Anyway, after restoring your i-device, you can always restore from a backup so that you won't have to re-arrange your home screen the way you had it or miss out on saved game data or reconfigure your mail accounts and other settings.[/INFO] [WARN]The risk, however, is that you could be restoring the problem.[/WARN]

[INFO]That is why I recommend "restoring as new". Since your device is already back to its native state, you might as well reinstall your apps and set everything up as if you were setting it up for the very first time. Still, that is just my opinion, yet, restoring as new can prevent you from restoring a problem that may be included with a previous backup. To restore as new, you follow the exact same steps to restore with the exception of selecting to setup as new when prompted.

My intent was not to go into great detail when I set out to write this guide but to only give an overview and I hope I succeeded.

[NOTE]* This guide was created using information from the Apple Support Website via the links below:

iPhone, iPad, iPod touch: Turning off and on (restarting) and resetting

iTunes: Restoring iOS software

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