Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Resolving" iTunes Error 1604 (and perhaps 1602, 1601?)

One of the most infuriating things about owning an Apple portable device is iTunes.  If I was to think of the single thing that would dissuade me most about owning a higher end device like an iPhone or an iPad, the thought of dealing with the catastrophic consequences of the most simple OS updates is it.   It's fashionable to dismiss RIM but while there are occasional hiccups their software update process works 99 per cent of the time, and does not REQUIRE the use of Desktop Manager to get it done - it can be done wirelessly via BES or wired via Internet Explorer.  Android phones can update by loading the patch onto a memory card.  Like removable batteries, Steve doesn't do such things as memory card slots so obviously that's out.

As I have whined before, Apple's patch sizes are outrageously large.  At a time when Rogers is reducing bandwidth to its customers, should those customers have to upgrade to receive nearly 400Mb of firmware update to resolve a security vulnerability, and 65Mb for a point.point release to iTunes (9.2.1)?  Having waited for this to download, shouldn't Apple test the iPod's capability to accept the download before whacking it and then popping up an esoteric message, the proferred solution for which is boilerplate like "reinstall iTunes"?  Why would an organisation so dedicated to "the experience" as Apple rely on a pop-up box Lotus would have been proud of?

Anyway, should get on with the 1604 "resolution" bit.  I tried a bunch of things, including updating (with the same cable - another boilerplate Apple suggestion is to change out the cable) on a different machine but the subsequent restore from backup failed (by the way - why should a "restore from backup" essentially mean blowing away the OS, Apple?  Why not just restore the settings and data from before and leave the OS as is?)

Finding myself with a partially restored device, with media but few settings, I happened across this 2008 post on O'Reilly which advocated a trip to the Genius Bar (but as this ZDNet blog shows, this can be just as annoying - not to mention that being on Mac doesn't give you an advantage either).  Deep in the comments I found this (more accurately I noticed the later comments of an "OMG you're the best" type:
I found a seemingly vague small post from 1 million google searches saying "Hey, if it hangs, before it goes to the 1604 error, just simply bring up your Task Manager and close the Itunes process...then, relaunch Itunes, it should see your Iphone, go through the restore again and wallah, it should work".

I thought: yeah right. And I was wrong...

IT WORKED. And it worked for my wife's Iphone too!! IT WORKS EVERY DAMN TIME!!!!!!
This worked for me - the "hang" was simply a long wait during "preparing iPod for restore".  I will say that having multiple recent backups is a good thing - because I hadn't synced recently I ended up going back to 6 weeks ago. The thing is - this post is in respect of restoring an iPod/iPhone from a bricked state. Apple shouldn't let it get to that - they should interrogate the device and if it throws the sort of error which causes 160x, it should not wipe the device. But since they aren't helping anyone avoid this state, I hope that this post will help others recover from a 1604 of their own.
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