If your iPhone has ever experienced any system issues, you may have come across DFU mode as one of the ways to fix the device.
Although it can be complicated to implement, DFU mode is one of the most effective solutions for the most common iOS issues.
In this guide, we will be discussing every aspect of DFU mode - what it is and how it can help you fix any issues on your iPhone.
Let's start from the beginning.
Device Firmware Update (DFU) mode is a special system mode that is used to update the firmware on an iOS device.
When the device is in DFU mode, it can communicate with iTunes which can enable iTunes to install the latest version of iOS on the device.
For this reason, DFU mode can be very useful in various situations including for devices that are running older versions of iOS or when jailbreaking a device.
It is also one of the best ways to fix a device that is unresponsive or one that has failed to respond to all other solutions.
DFU mode deals with the firmware aspect of the device. The firmware is software that is found within the hardware of the device to facilitate various functions on the hardware level.
One of these functions is to start up the iOS system and consequently turn on the device.
It is also useful in checking the hardware components to ensure that the right software working properly, which is why you will need to put the device in DFU mode to jailbreak it.
The following are some of the main reasons to enter DFU mode on your iPhone:
If soon after updating your device to the latest version of iOS, your device starts to behave abnormally.
Then you may find that you are having trouble accessing your apps and other core functions on the iPhone, so you may want to go back to the previous version. DFU mode makes the process of downgrading to a previous version simpler.
Jailbreak Your iPhone
Jailbreaking your device is the process of installing a customized version of iOS that can allow you to access apps and features that may not be accessible on the regular version of iOS. To jailbreak your device, you will need to enter DFU Mode.
Un-Jailbreak your iPhone
If you jailbreak your device and then change your mind, you will need to enter DFU mode again to boot into iOS and essentially un-jailbreak the device.
Remove Beta Software
You can sign up for the Apple Developer program to install beta versions of iOS on your device and get all the new features iOS has to offer before everyone else.
But beta versions of iOS can often be buggy and cause a lot of problems with the device including performance and battery drain issues. To remove a beta version of iOS, you will need to put your device in DFU mode.
When Your iPhone Functions Abnormally
DFU mode is also one of the best ways to fix a device that will not work normally. Putting the device in DFU mode and restoring it in iTunes can fix just about any iOS boot issues.
It is important to note that when your iPhone is in DFU mode, your computer will erase all the code that controls the software and hardware components of the device. The potential of something going wrong is very high.
If your iPhone is damaged in any way, especially if it has suffered liquid damage, DFU mode may break the device completely.
A usable iPhone with only minor iOS issues can become completely useless when a DFU restore fails, especially when the device has liquid damage.
The following are the steps to take before putting your iPhone in DFU mode:
Please note that using DFU mode to downgrade iOS or jailbreak the device can damage the device or void the warranty.
Because you have to use the physical buttons on the device, the method you use to put your iPhone in DFU mode will depend on the iPhone model that you have. Here's how to put your device in DFU mode:
iPhone 6S, SE, or Earlier:
You can use the following steps to put iPhone 6S, SE, or earlier into DFU mode.
Step 1: Connect the iPhone to a Mac or PC using a USB cable. The device can be on or off.
Step 2: Open iTunes if it doesn't automatically open.
Step 3: Press and hold both the Power and the Home buttons on the iPhone at the same time for about 8 seconds. You should see the "Slide to Power Off" screen.
Step 4: Let go of the power buttons after 8 seconds but continue to hold down the Home Button until you see a message in iTunes that says: "iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode." You will see this message in iTunes both for recovery and DFU mode.
Step 5: Release the Home Button when the message appears.
You will know that the device is in DFU mode if the screen is completely black. If you see the "Connect to iTunes" screen or the Apple Logo on the screen, you may have held down the buttons for too long and you may need to repeat the steps.
In the message that pops up in iTunes, click "OK." iTunes will detect the iPhone and you should then see "If you are experiencing problems with your iPhone, you can restore its original settings by clicking Restore iPhone." Click on "Restore iPhone" to complete the process.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus:
These models don't have a Home Button so a different process is required to enter DFU mode on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus:
Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer.
Step 2: Open iTunes.
Step 3: Press and hold down both the Power and the Volume Down buttons on the iPhone for about 8 seconds. You should see the "Slide to Power Off" screen should appear.
Step 4: After 8 seconds, release the Power button but continue to hold down the Volume Down button until you see the iTunes message, "iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode."
Step 5: Release the Volume Down button and if the screen is completely black, you are successfully in DFU mode.
iPhone 8, 8 plus, X, and later:
Newer models of iPhone that also don't have a Home Button, require a rather complicated process to enter DFU mode. Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Connect the iPhone to your computer.
Step 2: Open iTunes if it doesn't open automatically.
Step 3: Press and release (very quickly) the Volume Up button, then press and release (very quickly) the Volume Down button.
Step 4: Then press and hold the Side button until the screen goes black.
Step 5: Now press and hold down the Side and the Volume Down buttons at the same time for 5 seconds. Release the Side button after 5 seconds, but continue to hold the Volume Down button until you see the message in iTunes "iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode."
Step 6: Release the Volume Down button and if the screen is completely black, your device is successfully in DFU mode.
The easiest way to exit DFU mode on your iPhone is to restart the iPhone. Here's how to do that:
iPhone 8 and newer models: Press the Volume Up button, press the Volume Down button, and then hold down the Side button until the device restarts.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: Press and Hold down both the Side and the Volume Down button until the device restarts.
iPhone 6S and older models: Press and hold down both the Home and the Power buttons until the iPhone restarts.
DFU mode is perhaps the last resort when trying to fix various system issues on your iPhone. When restoring the device in DFU mode doesn't work, you will know that you need to seek help from professionals.
If DFU mode doesn't fix the problem, then you have a serious hardware or software problem and it is time to contact Apple support for further help.
Please note that if your iPhone has suffered liquid damage, putting it in DFU mode may cause more damage. Skip right to calling in the professionals.
Mako is a technical writer with a passion for all things tech. Whether you're wondering about how to fix your iPhone or Android device or trying to get something to work in your settings, Mako is your go-to for professional help. He loves writing, testing solutions, and most of all, making sure his research is factually accurate.