October 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Anatomy of an iPad iOS 5 Upgrade Fail… This Time It’s Error -48

ios 5 ipad upgrade fail

Last night, we regaled you with the jolting tale of our attempt to upgrade an iPhone 4 to iOS 5. Today, the trouble continues with the iPad.

Our new nemesis: error -48. Apple’s iOS 5 upgrade fiasco, by no means unique to our devices, strikes again.

We tried to upgrade this iPad last night, but woke to find that the upgrade had failed with no error message to tell us why. Today, as iTunes tried to upgrade it again, we had to pause the Restore Music and Videos function in order to switch locations — an option that Apple makes easy to select, with no warnings.

When we resumed, we saw the “Error -48″ pictured above, for which Apple advises the following:

Error 48 (or -48): Quit iTunes and discard the .ipsw file. Then, open iTunes and attempt to download again. See the steps under the heading “Rename, move, or delete the iOS software file (.ipsw)” below for .ipsw file locations.

Here we go again. We clicked OK, only to be confronted by more bad news:

ipad ios 5 fail upgrade

Undeterred, we followed Apple’s advice: quit iTunes, delete that .ipsw file, and try again. Scrolling down the page to the Advanced section on Apple’s support page, we note the following:

Rename, move, or delete the iOS software file (.ipsw)

iTunes uses “ipsw” files to restore your iPod or iPhone. If those files are unusable, then try deleting them, renaming them, or moving the file to a different directory. This will cause iTunes to download a new copy of the IPSW. When a restore issue is specific to a user, it is likely due to an unusable .ipsw file. If removing the .ipsw file does not resolve a user-specific restore issue, then the issue is caused by other user-specific security software settings or iTunes preferences. Creating a new user will also cause new .ipsw restore files to be downloaded in the new user. You can find the “.ipsw” files in these locations:

Mac OS X

iPhone ~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Software Updates

iPad ~/Library/iTunes/iPad Software Updates

iPod touch ~/Library/iTunes/iPod Software Updates

Note: The tilde “~” represents your Home directory.

(For other operating systems, you can find the locations here if you scroll down far enough then open the Advanced menu.)

We found the offending .ipsw file and moved it to a different location as Apple requested, so that iTunes can download another one, despite our fear that this will mean iTunes won’t be able to restore our apps, music, and videos. This is all starting to feel very Microsoft.

We fired up iTunes again, and it asked us whether we want to continue to Restore. Of course we do.

ios 5 upgrade fail ipadApple’s support documents don’t advise which option to choose. We clicked Continue Restore, only to encounter the dreaded “Error -48″ again:

We clicked OK, and found ourselves with another option to Restore. Yes! Of course we want to Restore:

ios 5 upgrade fail ipad

The iPad’s screen says “Restore in Progress,” which is hopeful. Sure enough, iTunes says the iPad’s settings have been restored:

ios 5 ipad upgrade failSo far, so good. But then we’re back here again:

ios 5 upgrade fail ipadWe selected “Continue Restore.” This looks good, but we wonder whether our stuff will really return to the iPad, given that we moved that .ipsw file based on Apple’s advice (especially since our music disappeared from our iPhone during last night’s upgrade):

ios 5 upgrade fail ipad

Hey, that’s cool. We’ve seen this error before. All hope is not lost:

Our apps are syncing back onto the upgraded iPad. This is good news — we take it to mean that Apple had already backed up .ipsw to its servers, because otherwise, how would iTunes know what to put back on our iPad? So, in a sense, iCloud has already been handling iOS backups:

ios 5 upgrade fail ipad

Here come the photos:

Meanwhile, the iOS 5 upgrade has finally taken hold on our iPad. Granted, moments later, we received an error message saying that iCloud wasn’t available, but hey, at least we’re getting closer:

And “just like that,” we’re done — both iPhone and iPad are now running iOS 5:

Errors 3004 and -48 will continue to haunt our dreams, but we have finally managed to upgrade Apple’s devices to Apple’s new mobile operating system using Apple software and an Apple computer… a mere 22 hours later.

  • http://twitter.com/sethlefferts Seth Lefferts

    I am getting Error -34 and have not been able to get beyond it on my iPad.  Hopefully, it will come back to me!  Live has less meaning without my iPad…

  • http://twitter.com/sethlefferts Seth Lefferts

    After receiving the error message three times I took a look at my iPad.  I found the message that the Upgrade was successful, so I completed the iCloud process on the iPad.  I am in the process of upgrading my iPhone, so I will plug the iPad back in to iTunes once the iPhone is done.  Wish me luck!

  • Lunarny

    Thank you for this incredibly helpful thread.  Even though I am mired in what looks like a hopeless iPad restore, it is reassuring that others are having a rough go of it as well, and your funny commentary has diffused some of my stress.  Look, it’s not as if I can’t live without this device … but it’s my wife’s iPad!!!  I’m getting error message (1).  If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them!  Tx.

  • Unlsaught

    u are one of the fortunate ones with a mac to resolve issues , i on the other had have to cope with windows .. never the less i have upgraded 12 devices to ios 5 , and all with problems .. all restore and backup related .. even today i lost another iphone with 30 gb of photo’s and an ipad with alot of apps.. not all is offcourse lost .. but its such a hassle re-installing apps, re-syncing with mobile me / icloud .. just my 2 cents dont rely on itunes backups too much .. make multiple  on multiple systems.. even if it takes a day .. some data is just not replaceable