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Fix iTunes Error 21 During Custom IPSW Restore [How-To Guide]

Jailbreaking your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPod using custom IPSW made by PwnageTool or Sn0wbreeze requires a full firmware restore using iTunes. During the restore process, if you encounter Error 21, it means that you are trying to restore custom IPSW using the recovery mode. To fix this issue, you must put your iDevice into DFU mode.

iTunes Error 21 Fix iTunes Error 21 During Custom IPSW Restore [How To Guide]
Recovery vs DFU Mode Fix iTunes Error 21 During Custom IPSW Restore [How To Guide]
DFU or Device Firmware Upgrade mode allows all iDevices to be restored from any state. The actual difference between recovery and DFU mode is that when you put your iDevice into DFU mode, it do not loads iBoot automatically. When you put your iPhone in recovery mode, it loads iBoot which makes sure that the firmware you are trying to restore is greater or equal to the current firmware.

To fix iTunes error 21, you must put your iDevice into DFU mode using the following instructions:

  1. Connect your iDevice to your PC or Mac via USB cable and launch iTunes.
  2. Hold down the Home+Power button for 10 seconds.
  3. After 10 seconds, release the Power button but keep holding the Home button until iTunes detect your iPhone in recovery mode.
  4. Once your iDevice is in DFU mode, you should see nothing on its screen. It should be completely blank.

iTunes Recovery Mode Fix iTunes Error 21 During Custom IPSW Restore [How To Guide]
Even if your iDevice is in DFU mode, iTunes will detect it as a recovery mode device and will display a message as shown in the above screenshot. As soon as you see the above message, restore custom IPSW and hopefully this time you will not get iTunes Error 21.

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101 comments
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  •  
    Recovery Fix8 months, 2 weeks ago

    For everyone stuck in recovery mode you can use tiny umbrella to exit recovery mode
    Connect device and select it from the recovery devices tab then click exit recovery

  •  
    Nini1 year, 2 months ago

    Hello, I did everything you said and I still have error 21 !! PS: I have the Iphone 5 do you have any other solutions please ? thank you. 

    •  
      ana catarina santos aranas8 months, 1 week ago

      o meu tambem esta assim, vc conseguiu resolver? responda por favor, estou desesperada! obg desde ja

  •  
    kurtis ram1 year, 4 months ago

    my iphone is stuck in recovery mode and i have a broken lock button and error 21 comes up can anyone help me out im getting really fustrated with it 

  •  
    Ligabo1 year, 4 months ago

    My problem was battery! I changed and it back to work! It had a loose wire.

  •  
    Min Han1 year, 4 months ago

    Sir, I am from Burma. I am iphone 4s user(5.1.1). I opened Cydia in my iphone and downloaded a file .Then, although I wait , my phone cannot reopen again. After a long time, iphone logo appears but again disappears and can`t be shut down.So I went a service center. The service men can`t solve my problem and tell me (Error no 21) . They tried but my phone is not OK .Sir, it is my problem. Please help me.

  •  
    Gabriel1 year, 5 months ago

    hello all hello admin. i just buyed a iphone 4s neverlocked 32gb. phone get stucked in picture to conect to itunes. the owner said he tryed to jailbrake it. i tryed all ways to restore but i didn t succeed. please help me.. i don t understand how to modify hosts. i use itunes to restore. please help me and give me instruction step by step and be verry clearly about how to modify hosts what program shouled i use to open it? i used note but it dosen t appear nothing about apple. thank you verry much i hope someone will help me 

  •  
    Manus1 year, 6 months ago

    After trying several times your suggestion as mentioned in your article without success, I modified the “host file” to disable access to Apple servers…:Launch Terminal , found in /Applications/Utilities/ or launched through SpotlightType the following command at the prompt:sudo nano /private/etc/hostsEnter the administrator password when requested, you will not see it typed on screen as usual with the command lineOnce the hosts file is loaded within nano, use the arrow keys to navigate to the bottom of the hosts file to make your modificationsModify the line: “74.208.10.249 gs.apple.com” TO “# 74.208.10.249 gs.apple.com” When finished, hit Control+O followed by ENTER/RETURN to save changes to /private/etc/hosts, then hit Control+X to exit out of nanoThen I followed your fixing steps as given in your article (now with success…)Remove the modification in your “host file” made in step 6Setup your iPhone as a new phone, and in the last step you have the option to restore your latest backup via iTunes or iCloud

    •  
      bobbi boo1 year, 2 months ago

      wOw!!!!! like why didn’t i think of that…..lol. …..thanks …i’m so thankful and glad that you have that knowledge…thanks again . i was going to toss phone and computer …..pulling hair out .

  •  
    nick1 year, 6 months ago

    after i do this i get stuck in a boot cycle help

  •  
    billy1 year, 6 months ago

    it said that the update information couldnt download

  •  
    Christopher Allen1 year, 6 months ago

    <3 Thank you!

  •  
    Daryl1 year, 7 months ago

    thank you!!!! i spent hrs trying to decipher itunes help page for no results but this worked perfectly first time and the instructions where clear and conceise 

  •  
    Carlos M1 year, 8 months ago

    In the end the only thing that fixed my itunes 21 error was upgrading my computers usb ports to 2.0, nothing els worked… ever

    •  
      Pat F.1 year, 5 months ago

      how did you upgrade your usb ports??

  •  
    Carlos M1 year, 8 months ago

    The latest version on Tiny Umbrella is messed up, you have to download a earlier version. So if set hosts to cydia is GREYED out or BLURRED thats why.

  •  
    -----1 year, 8 months ago

    Thank you SO VERY much!!!!!!!!!!!! This helped a lot!!!!

  •  
    Hawk1 year, 8 months ago

    Thanks

  •  
    ????1 year, 8 months ago

    Thank you SOOOOOOO much

  •  
    Sean1 year, 9 months ago

    Great this worked but now instead of error 21 I get error 1611 instead. Any suggestions on how to fix this?

  •  
    ana1 year, 9 months ago

    omg hallelujah!!!!!!!i love you!!!  i wanna take you behind a middle school and get you pregnant with my non-existant willy!!!!

  •  
    WinryR1 year, 9 months ago

    Thanks you, >_>!

  •  
    Dave Gabz1 year, 10 months ago

    Dude your a star!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  •  
    Kobil1 year, 11 months ago

    You are like a Neo in Matrix! You saved me!!!

  •  
    ahildebrand122 years, 1 month ago

    Thank you SO MUCH jimi I almost though my ipod was broken.

  •  
    Anurag Mamc2 years, 7 months ago

    thanx a ton for help!!!

  •  
    jimi2 years, 8 months ago

    On tiny umbrela go into advanced and set host to Cydia off on exit. Exit? tiny umbrella and restore. should fix this problem!

    •  
      Jag312 years, 7 months ago

      Thanks a lot bro, now my iPad is restoring fine.  out of hundreds of posts you were the only one that nailed it. 

    •  
      Kevin1 year, 11 months ago

      When in advanced tab the “Set Host to Cydia on Exit” is blurred and i cannot check this box. Help plz.

    •  
      Hama9X1 year, 11 months ago

      same problem as kevin, HELP PLZZ…

  •  
    Brad2 years, 8 months ago

    I followed the steps and now it shows preparing ipod for restore for about ten minutes then says error 1602 ive tried many things but still nothing plz help

    PS I have a jailbroken ipod 4th generation firmware 5.0.1

    •  
      Patrick2 years, 8 months ago

      Hi,

      16xx error implies that you haven’t placed your device into Pwned DFU Mode correctly. Try the solution here: http://bit.ly/tQlgaH

      Or you can use Redsn0w to place your device in Pwned DFU Mode.

      Hope that helps!!

      •  
        Brad2 years, 8 months ago

        i placed my device into Pwned dfu mode with the latest version of redsnOw and it still does the same thing except it stops at verifying ipod restore with apple

        plz help if possible

  •  
    jill2 years, 8 months ago

    After 2 days of trying everything to get my jailbroken iphone 4 out of this “stuck in recovery mode” situation, which evolved from unable to upgrade/restore from ios 4.2.1 to ios 5.0.1 , I cured the problem basically as per the instructions on http://jaxov.com/2011/05/fix-ios-4-3-3-recovery-loop-on-iphone-4-3gs-using-tinyumbrella-fix-recovery/ I did however download the Zlib1.dll from a more reputable site than the one suggested – google it.

    The problem turned out to be twofold. Firstly apple has introduced a security check which caused the recovery mode. This was made worse by settings left over from previously saving my shsh blobs.

    Basically the solution is the following:

    Step 1 get out of recovery mode by:
    I downloaded the tinyumbrella “fix recovery” program – note this is not the standard tinyumbrella program. Use the proper tinyumbrella site.
    I downloaded the Zlipl.dll file and put it in the same folder as the “fix recovery program
    Have internet running in background
    Launch itunes plug in phone, let itunes run in background
    Put phone into dfu mode (google it) this was not easy( I do know dfu mode well and use it often) due to being stuck in recovery mode loop but several repeated attempts got the apple logo for a split second and several attempts at coordinating it I was able to launch fixrecovery421.exe at exactly this moment. This was the hardest part.
    When you see “exiting libpoison” disconnect phone. Now you have your phone back!

    If this didn’t work you could also try download and run latest standard tinyumbrella ( I used v5.10.03) and untick “set hosts to cydia on exit” on “advanced tab” then click
    “exit recovery” button while in momentary dfu mode as described above.

    Step 2 correct settings on phone to satisfy apple servers:
    Now download and run latest standard tinyumbrella ( I used v5.10.03) and untick “set hosts to cydia on exit” on “advanced tab”
    Now go to itunes and do your “restore” again. It works!

    •  
      Maryxiah2 years, 7 months ago

      Your step 2 worked on my ipod! Thanks a lot. You practically saved my life. Cheers!

    •  
      Mike2 years, 7 months ago

      Thank you.  You just saved my butt

    •  
      guestuser2 years, 3 months ago

      fixed in step two!

  •  
    Hazem2 years, 8 months ago

    After that i pressed shift + restore to upgrade to iPhone3_1_5.0.1_9A405_Restore

    i got error 1600 :\ plz Help!!
    i Have iphone4 ver. 4.3.5

    •  
      JackLord2 years, 8 months ago

      Hi,

      16xx error suggests that you haven’t placed your device into Pwned DFU Mode properly. Try the solution here: http://bit.ly/tQlgaH

      Or just use the latest version of Redsn0w to put your device into Pwned DFU Mode.

      •  
        stan2 years ago

        dont do this >> its just spam

  •  
    WHATTODO2 years, 8 months ago

    After I put my ipod touch 4 g into dfu mode and try restoring, the error 1600 comes up… Help Plz…?

  •  
    TorySparks2 years, 8 months ago

    My iphone 4 is stuck in a recovery loop, i followed all your steps including using ifaith to put it in a pwned DFU mode. Instead of getting every itunes error imaginable from what I was doing before, now all I am getting is error 21, which is a big step forward in my opinion. Now everytime i try to restore in DFU mode, it will get up to the point where it says verifying restore with apple and i get an error 21 and my phone shows the “plug into itunes” screen. Also when I unplug my phone the screen shuts off. My phone has been a brick for a few months now and im desperate. I would appreciate greatly someones help and also is my screen shutting off after the unplug normal?

    •  
      Abe Dajani2 years, 8 months ago

      Honestly this is what i have been getting and it’s simple frustrating, so what i did was i bought a WP7 and it honestly works very good, i didn’t expect it to be like that, it’s still primitive compared to the iPhone “apps wise”, but as a phone i haven’t had any problem with it so whatever

    •  
      Abdullatif El-Balaa2 years ago

      Same situation here! Any progress from your side ??

  •  
    Jimmy2 years, 11 months ago

    hi i have the exact same problem with my iphone 3gs and my ipod 4G. i have tried putting it in dfu and restoring but i still get the error 21, and i have also tried the custom firmware with sn0wbreeze too. Also how do you point the servers to Cydia? I have reinstalled itunes aswell, changed ports, usb cables and even tried other computers but still no luck. I would appreciate it if you can help me out.

    Many thanks

    •  
      Pramod2 years, 11 months ago

      You need to put your device into a pwned DFU mode using Redsn0w & then restore to your custom IPSW. Read this http://bit.ly/pioV9v.

  •  
    David2 years, 11 months ago

    Hi everybody,
    I’ve a really strange problem. When I try to update or restore with iOS5 on any iDevice from my mac book pro (Lion OSX) I get ERROR 21. I Tried to do the restore from other macs or pcs and everything works fine.
    My MacBookPro is completely up to date, iTunes is up to date. I really can’t understand what is problem but I think that I have some application or process in background that lock the updating process.
    Do you know if there is any application that can generate this kind of problem.
    PS. I also tried to turn off the mac firewall and also the router firewall…still sucks

    •  
      Pramod2 years, 11 months ago

      Did you check your hosts file for any reference to Cydia’s servers? If so, remove it & retry.

      •  
        willian2 years, 8 months ago

        hi..

        Thanks you so much.I have done for ios5.0.1 updated.

      •  
        Ofek2 years, 8 months ago

        Wow!!!
        man i didn’t think this tip will be usefull but it fucking worked!!!!!!!

  •  
    John2 years, 11 months ago

    Hi Admin i have a problem while restoring my iphone 3gs.

    i have iphone 3gs with version 3.1.0 & bb 05.11.07 now i need to updated my iphone with ios 4.0 so wen i am updated its showing errors. can u just say me how to update iphone 3gs to ios 4.0 & unlock it …?

    •  
      Pramod2 years, 11 months ago

      You can currently update your iOS only if you have an SHSH saved for that iOS version to which you want to update to. Do you have any saved either via Cydia http://bit.ly/qS5bjW / TU?

  •  
    Brett2 years, 11 months ago

    I have read all the comments in here, I am still stuck I have managed to get itunes to begin restoring my firmware back to 4.2.1 (I get the snow flake icon on ipad screen and load bar). But near the end it throws me error 1015. I think this is something to do with boot loop. Can anyone offer any suggestions?

    Here is what my TinyUmbrella log shows:
    10/04/2011 03:25:13.683 DFU Device connected
    10/04/2011 03:26:13.907 DFU Device disconnected
    10/04/2011 03:26:19.047 Recovery Device connected
    10/04/2011 03:26:26.785 Recovery Device disconnected
    10/04/2011 03:30:51.258 Recovery Device connected

    Basically I am stuck in a boot loop I think mid way through the firmware install it goes into recovery mode from DFU mode.

    •  
      Pramod2 years, 11 months ago

      Your stuck in a DFU loop simply because you did not have a valid SHSH saved for your device to restore with. Read this http://bit.ly/oKCpYX.

  •  
    Raul2 years, 11 months ago

    use tiny unbrella first download it and then when you connect you device look at the top left corner and will devices in recovery mode then at the top its going to say end recovery just press that one and it goes back to you’re lock screen

    •  
      Pramod2 years, 11 months ago

      This would work great only for those who are stuck on an iOS 4.1 / 4.2.1 recovery loop. (The FixRecovery button that’s within the TU application itself.)

  •  
    missmyiphone312 years, 11 months ago

    Hi, I tried the steps above and it still gave me the same error. I tried it again but when I try to go on DFU mode I get a white screen. Please help, thanks!

    •  
      Pramod2 years, 11 months ago

      Use Redsn0w instead to put your device into a pwned DFU mode & then restore to the custom IPSW

  •  
    Boat2 years, 12 months ago

    Thank you guys so much!I thought i was screwed when i saw that because i was trying to jailbreak using limera1n and i thought it had voided the warranty and they weren’t going to restore it when it said “Verifying Restore with Apple” at the top. The DFU thing worked perfectly and i had no more errors :D. Once again thank you guys sooooo much.

  •  
    pran3 years ago

    too good dude i got it……..cheers to all

  •  
    TJ3 years ago

    hey man, i did everything – no errors, i had to use tinyumbrella and then ireb – and installed custom 4.3.3 on iphone 3gs – now its in infinite recovery or dfu loop – the OS never boots up – screen is always blank… went to apple store he made it come uo with the plug into itunes logo n said none can be done and its stuck :( help me ASAP PLS !!!

    •  
      Pramod3 years ago

      You have installed your iOS w/o actually having the necessary valid SHSH saved for your device on 4.3.3. By force installing an iOS like this w/o an SHSH, a DFU loop is all what you will get. Restore to a custom 4.1 IPSW instead by setting TU like this http://bit.ly/mT3R3e & quitting it. Restore your device in a pwned DFU mode always.

  •  
    anton3 years ago

    I tried to install the itunes beta, and used DFU to restore, it went perfectly, i intalled iOS5 beta6 but when my phone get started the was a message like register ur device to developing somethin’ and u have to register ur device on @@url@@. i didnt get at all!!!

    •  
      Pramod3 years ago

      Ofcourse !! iOS 5 is still in its betas. So, until its public, only the Apple devs can get their hands onto these betas by officially registering their devices with Apple to run it on. You on the other hand need to use Sn0wbreeze v2.8b7, create a custom iOS5b7 IPSW & then restore to that via iTunes as your not a developer.

  •  
    anton3 years ago

    Hi everyone. I’m trying to update my phone from 4.3.5 to iOS 5.0 beta 6. It was giving first error 21, then i tried to use redsnow 0.9.8b1 to put my phone on pwned DFU mode, after pwned DFU I tried to restore but it gave me error 1600. What to do? Cuz i googled lots of options, but nothin’ works!!! plz help! Wanna get iOS5 badly)))

    •  
      Pramod3 years ago

      Use the latest beta version of iTunes 10.5 (Beta 7) in conjunction with the latest iOS 5 beta version for your restores. You need not use any kind of DFU / JB tools for your update at all. Make sure that you haven’t pointed iTunes to use any kind of Cydia saved SHSH at all.

  •  
    Some Guy3 years ago

    I tried putting my ipod in dfu mode and restoring but somehow my ipod’s software got erased and i still got error 21. any suggestions?

    •  
      Pramod3 years ago

      Restore to that iOS version for which you have an SHSH saved for your device/iOS. Read this http://bit.ly/oKCpYX & confirm the same first before you restore your device.

  •  
    charlie3 years, 1 month ago

    white screen on itouch, restore like you said but during restore process screen stayed white and after restore remains white…..anything please???

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 1 month ago

      Eh, what are you talking about? I do not see myself answering your query anywhere on this page. Please refrain from posting queries w/o a follow-up.

  •  
    Ivan3 years, 1 month ago

    Same here, normally it shows error 21 If I use this solution than it shows error 1600. And if I use iREB it again shows 21, endless loop :P

  •  
    SkanZ3 years, 1 month ago

    actually for some reason all it took was using a different computer… not sure why tho

  •  
    Jacobo3 years, 1 month ago

    help… I followed exactly what you said and everything was working. All the sudden I get error 1601. HELP :(

  •  
    SkanZ3 years, 1 month ago

    I have put my iPhone 3g into dfu and pwned dfu and i am still getting error 21 it was original jail broken… help please?

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 1 month ago

      Use Redsn0w to put your device into a Pwned DFU mode instead, if your restoring to a custom IPSW.

  •  
    Steven3 years, 1 month ago

    I’d also like to note, like a user above mentioned, the screen does indeed turn white just before the error comes up. Again, I’d like to stress than it is indeed in a PWNED DFU mode. Not recovery. I guess we need a new work around for this? :/

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 1 month ago

      Use Redsn0w instead of iReb to put your device into a Pwned DFU mode. That should work just fine. Make sure you boot back to Recovery mode and then use Redsn0w whilst not over an already iRebbed iPhone. Read this http://bit.ly/pioV9v.

  •  
    Steven3 years, 1 month ago

    I’m also one of the many getting the error 21. I am certain I put it in a PWNED DFU mode as well because iReb is confirming it as well. I just don’t know what to do. I’m just trying to upgrade to firmware 4.0

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 1 month ago

      Use Redsn0w instead to put your device into a Pwned DFU mode. Press and hold power and home button until it reboots into Recovery mode and use Redsn0w instead of iReb. Read this http://bit.ly/pioV9v.

  •  
    Max3 years, 1 month ago

    Hello! I am trying to update (not restore) my iPhone 4 GSM from 4.0.1 to 4.3.3. I have been through error 3194, 3014, 1604, 1643 and now I am stuck with error 21 ! I dont know what to do because if I put my iPhone in DFU mode then I cannnot update it, but I HAVE to restore it, right? Do yo have another idea? Thank you!!

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 1 month ago

      You have to put your device into a Pwned DFU mode and not into recovery mode while restoring to a custom IPSW. Use RS and put your device in a Pwned DFU state and then continue with the restore.

  •  
    Herman Cruz3 years, 1 month ago

    I am also having the same issue I tried DFU mode and even ireb but the phone just turns on and goes to either green screen or lines of green or white.

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 1 month ago

      Your iDevice details? What are you actually trying to figure out?

  •  
    Apple Repair Store New Orleans3 years, 2 months ago

    Maybe I missed something, but I thought you were going to tell us what error 21 means?

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 2 months ago

      Its there right in the fist para what Error 21 means: During the restore process, if you encounter Error 21, it means that you are trying to restore custom IPSW using the recovery mode.

  •  
    Mayur3 years, 2 months ago

    Hi,
    I tried all the steps, place iphone in Pwned DFU using ireb,
    while trying to restore, it show up white screen
    and then there is error 21 again
    what to do?

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 2 months ago

      Place it in a Pwned state using Redsn0w (Just Enter Pwned DFU mode) otherwise. Error 21 still shows that you haven’t patched the DFU mode yet and that you definitely need to if you want to restore to a custom FW.

  •  
    Dave3 years, 3 months ago

    All steps followed completely. Device loaded to DFU mode, showing completely blank screen. I start the restore process, and after a few seconds the screen turns all white, and ITunes pops up error 21 again. :(

    Suggestions?

    •  
      Dave3 years, 3 months ago

      So, I switched OS versions from 4.0 to 4.1, with a little bit of luck. I’ve avoided the error 21, but then got error 1604. After some troubleshooting to fix that, I now get error 1004. :( I saw you posted some suggestions on how to fix this, so I’ll give it a shot.

      •  
        Pramod3 years, 3 months ago

        Error 1004 occurs because the Cydia address to which you have redirected iTunes to doesn’t seems to have the SHSH saved on its server for the 4.1 iOS. Make sure you have the necessary SHSH files of the version your downgrading/updating to by using TinyUmbrella. Hope this helps. :)

    •  
      Pramod3 years, 3 months ago

      Make sure that if your trying to restore to a custom IPSW, you’ll need to put your device in a Pwned DFU state. To do that, you must use iReb to put your device in the mentioned state. Follow this guide http://bit.ly/kD7saY and re-do the restore process. Everything should work fine then. Good luck. :)

  •  
    ali3 years, 3 months ago

    thanks Javox.com everything tech needs you have it !!!

    •  
      Patrick3 years, 3 months ago

      Welcome :)

  •  
    Zain3 years, 3 months ago

    Help now i get error 1611 during restore

  •  
    Connor3 years, 4 months ago

    Ok that got rid of Error 21 but now I have Error 1600…