Monday, February 16, 2009

Saving the data on an iPhone in Recovery Mode

I'm posting this because I couldn't find this information succinctly produced in any corner of the web and I wanted people who had the same problem to have a place to go to find answers.

Here's the scenario. A loved one drops their 1st gen iPhone into a body of water (sink/tub/toilet/lake) and, effectively, bricks it. When it dries out enough to boot back up it goes into Recovery Mode and asks you to plug it into iTunes so it can be reimaged and reset to the factory defaults erasing all the data on the phone in the process. Normally this is no big deal, assuming of course the phone has been sync'd recently.

What if it hasn't? What if there's precious data on there like pictures of your children that your wife took and loves dearly that she never backed up off the phone for whatever reason?

You, my friend, have a problem.

If you search the web for "iPhone recovery mode save data" or whatever you're going to get back a pile of results that basically say stuff like "take it to the Apple Store and let a Genius look at it". When you do that, they'll tell you you're hosed, but of course they'll be cool about it and you'll have the opportunity to buy some stuff while you wait in line to talk to them.

You can also call a data recovery service. They can bust open your iPhone and try to extract the media from its memory for the low low price of ~$900+. Generally speaking, that's not going to be an option for almost anyone.

Shouldn't a hacker have had this problem and solved it by now?

As a matter of fact, at least one has. If you find yourself in this situation and you want to be all heroic and stuff then go get yourself ZiPhone. Among the tricks it can perform on your iPhone is the extremely handy trick of taking it out of Recovery Mode and back to Normal Mode. Just launch ZiPhone and select the "Reboot in Normal Mode" option from the menu bar. Once you've done that you can just sync the phone as normal and save off all your data. Once you've done that you can then turn to your wife and receive your accolades and just desserts.

Anyway, I hope someone finds this post more helpful than the usual pile of useless results Google returns on the topic.

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MacBook Pro and the slow-motion beachball of death crash

I've been using 15" Mac laptops since about 2002 and I love them dearly. As general purpose computing platforms for all of the various things I have to do (coding, presentations, communications, etc) they are by far the best blend of power and functionality I've ever had. Having said that, I've been pulling my hair out lately because my latest machine, a ~1 year old 2.4GHz machine with 4GB of RAM and a hand upgraded hard drive, has been crashing.

Generally what's happening is the machine will operate fine for some period of time, several hours to several days. At some point I'll have 2-7 apps open and one of them, usually Firefox, will beachball. When this happens I can switch away to another app but then within 30 seconds or so that app will go down, then the menu bar becomes unresponsive, I can't launch any new apps and that's all she wrote. It's reboot time.

This has been going on for about a month now and I've tried a variety of solutions in terms of running repairs and all that jazz with no luck. At this point I'm ready to throw in the towel. In addition to being a machine that I write code on this is also a machine that I use to do presentations in front of rooms full of people. A lockup during a presentation would be an unacceptable embarrassment so tomorrow I'll be taking this machine back to Sourcefire IT and getting a new MBP. Hopefully they can figure out what the problem is or send it to Apple and let them fix it.

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