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Things About iPhone DFU Mode and Recovery Mode

--Wednesday, Nov.09, 2016


"Hi, Selena. My name is Bill. I am still confused with DFT Mode and Recovery Mode though there are quite lots of articles about one or both of them. However, those articles are quite ambiguous indeed. Would you please sort me out on them? Thanks in advance."


I've receive this email days ago. To be honest, I was in trouble with the same situation like Bill is. Actually, DFU Mode and Recovery Mode are really confusing. Also, I've read some articles that even still mess up with the two, so that's why this article comes out. Hope it helps you to make out things about DFU Mode and Recovery Mode.

Part 1: What are DFU Mode and Recovery Mode?


What is DFU Mode?

DFU Mode is an abbreviation for 'Device Firmware Upgrade Mode', which allows iOS device to be repaired from any state. DFU Mode allows users to put iPhone/iPad into where it can interact with iTunes but does not load the iPhone operating system or boot loader, which allows users to change and choose the desired firmware to install onto iPhone/iPad/iPod. For example, one would use DFU mode if he'd like to re-install a previous version of iOS, jailbreak iPhone or unlock SIM.


What is Recovery Mode?

Recovery Mode is a failsafe in iBoot that is used to reflash the device with a new OS, whether the currently installed one is somehow damaged or the device is undergoing an upgrade via iTunes. In fact, Recovery Mode is a method to force a restore. However, you might not realize that you've been using Recovery Mode when you're updating software on iPhone or restoring iPhone from an iTunes/iCloud backup.


Compared with Recovery Mode, DFU Mode is for dealing with systematic issues, like updating/downgrading, jailbreaking and others while Recovery Mode is mainly for data restoration and software update.


What are DFU Mode and Recovery Mode

Part 2: What is DFU Mode Used for?


Since DFU Mode is strongly connected to iPhone Operating System, it would be a great helper when you're confronting any systematic problems. If you'd like to not trudge a long way to Apple Store asking for help, you should learn about DFU Mode. DFU Mode enables users to address problems about iOS at home on their own. Especially, if you want to downgrade your iPhone/iPad/iPod to the previous version of iOS, you have to use DFU Mode to do so.


What DFU Mode for

Part 3: What is Recovery Mode Used for?


Recovery Mode comes in handy when your iOS device is under the following situations:


  • iTunes doesn't recognize your device or says it's in Recovery Mode.

  • You see the Apple logo on your screen for several minutes with no progress bar.

  • You see the Connect to iTunes screen.


In these situations, you might need to use Recovery Mode to restore your iPhone/iPad/iPod, which would install official iOS updates or restore from a backup in order to repair any software damages.


What Recovery Mode for

Part 4: What are the Differences between DFU Mode and Recovery Mode?


There are also some differences between DFU Mode and Recovery Mode, please read on and make it clear that you know how to distinguish them.


1. The steps to enter DFU Mode and Recovery Mode are also different.


Enter DFU Mode

On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Plug your iPhone/iPad into the computer with a USB cable and power off the device. Next, press and hold the "Power" button for 3 seconds as well as press and hold the "Home" and "Power" buttons for 10 seconds. Then, release the "Power" button but keep holding down the "Home" button. After about 15 seconds you will be prompted by iTunes saying that it has detected a device in DFU Mode.


On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Connect iPhone 7/7 Plus via USB cable to the iTunes on computer and turn off the device. After that, press and hold down the "Power" button for three seconds and hold the "Power" button and "Volume Down" button together for 10 seconds. Then, release the Power" button but keep pressing the "Volume Down" button until the screen shows nothing but a black interface.


Enter Recovery Mode

On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons at the same time. Don't release the buttons when you see the Apple logo. Keep holding both buttons until you see the recovery mode screen.


On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Don't release the buttons when you see the Apple logo. Keep holding both buttons until you see the recovery mode screen.


Note that it's much difficult to enter DFU Mode rather than Recovery Mode. You have to follow precise timing to enter DFU Mode. Otherwise, it would fail.


2. One of the differences of the two Modes is the interface they present. When your device successfully gets into DFU Mode, the screens become blank and no logos are presented. However, as opposed to DFU Mode, if your iPhone/iPad/iPod enters into Recovery Mode, the icon of iTunes will show up on the screen with an image of USB connected, prompting you to connect your device to the latest version of iTunes. Most of the time, it's the main way to tell whether your device is in DFU Mode or Recovery Mode.


3. Recovery Mode makes use of iBoot during restoring or upgrading your iPhone/iPad/iPod while DFU mode bypasses iBoot. Because DFU disregards iBoot, you can downgrade your firmware in DFU mode. You cannot downgrade firmware in Recovery Mode, but Recovery Mode will install the latest version of iOS on your device. DFU mode allows your iOS device to interact with iTunes without a firmware upgrade. With Recovery Mode, iTunes will automatically upgrade your firmware to the latest version.


4. DFU mode allows you to make use of custom firmware such as Cydia and other Jailbreak tools. Recovery Mode is not so customizable and will only upgrade your firmware. While both DFU mode and Recovery Mode can solve some system problems, you may ask what the difference between them is. The answer would be iBoot.


Differences between DFU Mode and Recovery Mode

I'm sure you've gained a brand new knowledge of DFU Mode and Recovery Mode so far after reading this post. I'd be glad if you now know the difference between the two Modes. However, if any section is described unclear, you're welcome to point it out. Thanks for helping me improving the content. However, if your iOS device is stuck in DFU Mode or Recovery Mode, please try iOS System Recovery to get it fixed.


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