How to Fix iTunes’ “Set Up Your iPhone” Error

August 25, 2009

Since owning my iPhone I’ve had this happen to me a couple of times now, I plug in my iPhone to do a sync and recharge and get a message telling me “An iPhone has been previously synced with this computer” and gives me the options of setting it up as a new phone, or restoring from a previous back up. Neither of these options describe what I want, as I don’t have it back up on every sync I would lose too much data, and I certainly don’t want to start fresh.

Set Up Your iPhone

As it turns out, this screen is very misleading and not as threatening as it may appear. Selecting the option to set it up as a new phone does NOT revert your phone back to its starting point as the message may imply. The only change that is made is you will be prompted to rename the phone, after that your phone will sync and all of your settings and data will be preserved.

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  1. Just to point out that not all your data is preserved – your music is deleted (at least mine has just been). It may just be because I had a playlist selected to auto-sync, but it’s one thing to watch out for… otherwise you could be waiting a few minutes uploading your music back onto the phone. 🙁

  2. Thank you thank you thank you. I was freaking out when this happened because I still had some extremely valuable voice memos on the computer and I didn’t wanna restore from a previous backup because i knew those memos weren’t there. You saved me an angry phone call to an Apple store tomorrow morning.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this! Apple really needs to reword this screen or, better yet, do something so avoid this problem all together.

  4. Thank you for posting this info!
    I do want to say that while it did work, it did delete all of music/videos. Oh well, at least I can use it again, without updating to 3.1.3!

  5. I did this — it deleted all the music I’d bought from the phone itself (gonzeo) and all the apps i’d bought on the phone. Not good Apple, Not Good.

  6. @kyle – That sucks, from what I’m told it doesn’t remember the songs you’ve downloaded and let you get them again for free like it does with apps. So to others who follow this guide, be careful. If it’s jailbroken try FTPing in and backing up the MP3s first.

  7. iTunes sucks, especially since IOS4. Maybe all the good programmers quit because the software is now buggy and crappy, my phone which worked well with IOS3 has been restored at least twice a week since upgrading.

    Why does apply call it sync? It just freaking recopies everything and takes hours!! Steve clearly doesn’t eat his own dog food.

  8. I am so sorry I “upgraded” to the Iphone 4. It has been a nightmare of problems like this, applications that will not load, dropped Bluetooth connections.
    Apple software is attrocious, there is no other word for it and there support is even worse than Microsoft.
    Anyone who reads this and gets an Iphone 4 has no one to blame but themselves.

  9. Oh my goodness, you’re a star for posting this! Have been trying to figure this out for hours with my new iphone 4, and was worried if i clicked set up as new iphone all my data would be deleted! So thank you 🙂

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you! The exact problem was happening to me, and I was panicking. You stated it perfectly. I thought I had done something wrong. Did I say thank you enough? Maybe not, THANK YOU!

  11. Worked for me without wiping everything. In that screen you can just enter the name of the iPhone. Then you are taken to a screen where you can backup and sync. It did though have the adverse affect of syncing every application I have ever downloaded back to my phone I think there are some settings I could have configured to prevent that from happening, I hastily pressed sync. Also, I noticed there were lots of old contacts that were re-added to the phone, not sure how they got back on the phone (I also did an iCloud backup prior to “setting up the iPhone”, this was more likely the reason). I didn’t lose my music, I didn’t lose my photos, I didn’t lose my contacts, and not my settings either. Thanks!

  12. I am writing on Christmas day, 2015, to thank people for keeping this web page alive. The same issue is still present in iTunes and it is still scary. I just experienced what others have gone through with my 6 week old iPhone 6s Plus. I have no idea why Apple wants to panic people who did not plug their iOS devices in before loading apps and taking photos.

    To Mike, Kyle and others — my son was burned by buying music on his iPad that he can never recover. Fortunately it was only a few dollars worth of music. I pity anyone who regularly buys music or videos on an iOS device only to discover those don’t transfer to other linked devices within the same account. These are among the many gotchas that make people leery of spending money in the Apple store. Overall it’s more positive than negative, but I would never be surprised to wake up one day and find all my “purchases” were somehow lost.

  13. David
    You can ALWAYS recover music purchased with an iTunes account. Just go to the store in iTunes, log in with the correct account, and check for purchases.
    Did you lose network and app settings also?

  14. May 2016….this is still an issue…obv since 2010, You think Apple would fix this already. Thanks for your help

  15. Yeah you would think this issue will be resolved by now I’m trying to restore my phone to a older restore so I can get a video I deleted but it’s only showing my recent restore

  16. This has happened to me on both an iPad and iPod. Both have stuff on them I don’t want to lose, and I really need to sync them to my computer. Is there a YouTube video showing me how to do this?

  17. This is still happening with iTunes
    I just got a new iPhone 7 and set it up as a new phone, but it wouldn’t sync from the iTunes for PC library. So I downloaded everything I could from the cloud.

    Also, may be unrelated, but can’t get apps and books to show in iTunes for PC. They did before.

    When I connect the iPhone to the PC it always wants to restore or set up as a new phone.

    Because I have 32G of stuff, I don’t want to risk having it deleted and having to redownload it.

    Guess I will dump iTunes for PC as totally worthless.

  18. YES!! I was so panicked to see they asked me either to set up as new iphone or restore backup thinking I’m so dead not sure which to choose. Thankyou for your post here!!

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