iPhone is Disabled

This can be a very disconcerting sight on your iPhone’s screen

iPhone Is DisabledOne minute the world looks all tickety-boo, and then you pull your iPhone out of your pocket or bag and are confronted with a black and white screen that says “iPhone is disabled, please try again in 5 minutes” (or a different number of minutes).

What? Everything was fine the last time you looked. Have you been hacked? Got a virus?

So what do you do? Obviously, you click on the home button and every other button you can find to see if you can knock some sense into it. No joy. So you turn it completely off and back on again. Still no joy. Only now it says “try again in 10 minutes” or something similar.

The best procedure in this case is:

1) Follow Lance Corporal Jones’ advice – “Don’t panic”
2) Follow the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy‘s advice – “Don’t Panic”
3) Wait the number of minutes it tells you to (yes, I know, it seems like twice as long)
4) Re-enter your password
5) Breathe a sigh of relief and carry on with your day

What happened?

The iPhone thinks you have been trying to enter your passcode and that you’ve got it wrong too many times. The first message will come up after five incorrect attempts. In this case, you will be required to wait one minute before being able to try again. Thereafter, the number of minutes you have to wait increases every time you get it wrong:

7 incorrect entries in a row – try again in 5 minutes
8 incorrect entries in a row – try again in 15 minutes
9 incorrect entries in a row – try again in 60 minutes

If you haven’t got it right after nine attempts you are in a spot of bother and you are probably going to have to restore a backup of your data via iCloud or via iTunes. If you haven’t got a backup then you will need to enter recover mode and the best you will be able to do is wipe the phone clean and start afresh.

H2G2 - Don't PanicHere’s where I would normally emphasise the importance of taking backups, but if you haven’t worked that out for yourself already then there probably isn’t anything I can say that will do the trick. The one thing that probably will do the trick is to experience first-hand the inconvenience of losing data. In the case of mobile phones, of course, this can be more than inconvenience as many people use their phones to take irreplaceable photos of their children. Nuff said.

In my own case, I’m not really sure how I got into the situation of the phone becoming disabled. Although I accept that it can get triggered accidentally when the phone’s in your pocket (or bag), it seems odd that it happened to me twice in three days and yet it had never happened before in years of iPhone ownership. Maybe it won’t happen again in the next ten years – but I updated my backup straight after the first occasion, just in case.

Lance Corporal Jones
“Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring”
If you do need to recover your data via iTunes or iCloud, or if you need to go into recovery mode, there are many websites out there that can help – including this blog.

OK, I can’t resist saying it – if you’ve never backed up your iPhone, please consider doing it. My own preference is to use iTunes to back up my iPhone to my own computer. That way, you do not fall into Apple’s trap of using up all your meagre data storage allowance and being suckered into taking out a subscription to get enough space to achieve the backup.