My iPad Has iPhone Envy – I Have a Headache

I woke up this morning and connected my iPad to iTunes. iTunes saw my iPad differently and turned it into an iPhone. Complete with ringtones. Unfortunately it no longer allowed it to run iPad apps and removed them all. So it was time to dig into the iPad backups and fine an older one where it was still an iPad. I managed to find one and get my iPad’s personality restored.

Apple iPad Image

A comic style crashing fistSo, I plug my iPad into my Mac Mini this morning, like most mornings, so that it gets the latest podcast downloads and tells iTunes what I’ve already listed too. It’s usually a quick process. But this morning it was taking awhile. So I take a look at iTunes and the status window is listing a bunch of application as it removes them. This is not normal. This is not good. I look down at the iPad Summary screen to find that my iPad has now switched itself to an iPhone. Those apps being removed are iPad only apps.

I’ve never owned an iPhone. Still, I haven’t had my coffee yet so I look over to verify I still have that big honking iPad. The iPhone fairy didn’t swap it over night while I slept. On the plus side I now have a shiny new ringtones tab in iTunes. Unfortunately I’ve got nothing that will ring, especially since it’s not even a 3G iPad. So, doesn’t seem like a fair trade. I don’t like my iPad’s new iPhone personality.

Next I take a look at the backups. The one from today is labeled “iPad” and it’s the one done with the sync that turned it to an iPhone. Restoring to it will probably be a waste of time. I have two other recent backups labeled “iPhone” so I won’t be using those. (I’ve never owned an iPhone so assume those were created by the iPad on the 28th and 29th as it began to lose its mind.) Then I have one labeled iPod Touch which is probably a legit backup of my sane iPod Touch.

Now a back story here is that two days ago (the 28th, coinciding with that iPhone backup that went unnoticed) I had a problem where the iPad wouldn’t sync, it said a file couldn’t be found. At that time I rebooted the iPad and synced. This time it wanted to do a restore or set up a new iPad. The restore didn’t work (literally, nothing happened when clicked) so I set up a new iPad which was relatively painless. No settings lost, no apps lost, no data lost. All seemed fine. I used a different iPad name to avoid potential issues (so I thought).

So this time around I decided to flatten it and rebuild. I deleted all the backups and told iTunes to do a factory reset on my “iPhone”. Which it did, and as a factory reset is supposed to do, all settings were lost.

From a data standpoint it wasn’t a big deal, I didn’t lose anything. But I hadn’t realized how many settings and customizations I made in the little time I had the iPad. It was turning out to be a real pain settings things up again. Plus I lost one small in-app purchase. But the worst thing ones I lost all my Plants vs. Zombies history and was starting the game over.

Mr Fix it type cartoon characterAt this point I decided to look into finding my older iPad backups and seeing if I can restore one of those. Worst case is another reset and the tedious process of customization. I got lucky in that I was backing up the backups due to my paranoia and abundance of extra disk. So once I found the backups in Time Machine I decided to go back to the 27th, which was before the first sync failure.

I start iTunes and let my iPad connect and sync, and do a backup if it wants. Then I locate the backup files which are in a cryptically named subdirectory under ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ where ~ is my home directory.

There were over 3,500 files of various dates in that directory so I deleted them all to be sure I had a nice clean restore from a point in the past. Then I went into time machine and restored all the files in that directory from the 27th. I go into iTunes and make sure it sees the backup of that date. (Backups are listed under iTunes –> Preferences one the Devices tab. At least they are in the Mac version of iTunes.).  Then I do a restore by right-clicking on the iPad in the device list and picking “Restore From Backup” from the menu. From this point on the restore was straight-forward and finished with a device reboot.

After this everything was good. I had my in-app purchase back and had only lost a little Plants vs. Zombies history.

An interesting thing – the backup I did the restore from is now listed as a second backup for the device (with the full date).

Lessons Learned

Apple iPad ImageI got lucky due to my paranoia in that I had no idea only one backup was kept. I hadn’t thought about iTunes thinking all was well and overwriting that backup with bad data. I had no idea where the backups were kept. I had no idea money could be lost with a factory reset (see next lesson) if the last backup was also bad. I had time machine backing up my library folder. This is the first time I can remember that time machine was truly needed. It was only running because I had the disk, the space on it, and I’m paranoid about losing data. My other backups simply take the current snapshot.

I had one in app purchase. It was an app upgrade and the factory restored iPad didn’t see it. It was less than $5, but it still would have annoyed me to have to re-buy the app or figure out who to contact and how to restore it. From now on when I do an in-app purchase I’ll be sure to do a backup on the next sync, even if it’s already done that days backup, and make sure Time Machine gets a backup of the backup before I sync again. Even better, I’ll avoid in-app purchases if there’s a choice or if I’m not willing to lose the purchase down the road.

The backup directory is cryptically named and I had two, one for each device. I deleted my iPod Touch back in iTunes so that I’d only have one backup directory and know which one it was (after copying both to a temp location). I now have a record of that directory and will keep a record for each new device.

There’s only one backup per device in iTunes and iTunes will do a new backup on the first sync every day. Doing my restore with iTunes off simply caused it to be overwritten when I connected the iPad and it did it’s first sync. As an alternative to doing the file restore with iTunes running I probably could have turned off the automatic sync in iTunes preferences.

The iTunes 9.1.1 update was recent but I had successful syncs after that upgrade so I can’t really blame that. But there’s nothing else that even comes close to being a potential cause.

Anyone else have iPads that think they’re iPhones (or visa-versa)?

4 thoughts on “My iPad Has iPhone Envy – I Have a Headache”

  1. thank you so much! I had the exact problem – and my only frustration was also losing the PvZ's data! All restored.

    Thanks again!

    Sydney

  2. Nothing as serious for me, but…

    I get an upgrade to the iPad today and suddenly it wants to do a full backup. The majority of what's on my iPad is photos, music, and ripped video. Since it can take 4 to 12 hours to rip a DVD to iPhone format, I keep a copy of all those videos anyway. The music, the photos – I have copies.

    Do I really need to wait while a slow processor does a slow backup of 20GB+ of photos, movies and music that I already have copies of? It's been an hour and the progress bar is less than 1/4 done. Why can't I specify that I only need the OS. Settings, etc. backed up?

    (Or maybe I can, but iTunes is locked up while this upgrade/sync/backup happens, so it's too late to go digging around.)

  3. "It’s usually a quick process. But this morning it was taking awhile. So I take a look at iTunes and the status window is listing a bunch of application as it removes them. This is not normal. This is not good. I look down at the iPad Summary screen to find that my iPad has now switched itself to an iPhone. Those apps being removed are iPad only apps."

    How much is realistic?

    1. @toditli – for the most part none is normal, unless I've gone ahead and deleted them either in iTunes or on the device and then it should just sync the actual deletions. The sync itself is also usually quick. It depends on whether or not I'm syncing video (which is rare), but it's almost always done a couple minutes after I start.

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