iPhone iOS 4.2 update wipes iPod content: problem fixed

sad-iphoneSee update below…

Original post:

Oh the excitement of a iOS update! The thrill of being able to access brand-new, never-seen-before features! The anticipation as you download and install the update!

The disappointment as you realize that you can no longer play any of your iPod content.

This sure sounds like the beginning of one of those MasterCard commercials, but the sad truth is that it’s the reality facing some people who have been brave enough to install Apple’s latest update to their iOS on their iPhone 4.

Actually I have no idea how many others have experienced this since a quick Google on the topic hasn’t turned up anything.

The update downloaded and installed just fine, and all of my apps appear to be working – in fact I can’t find a single problem – except the whole iPod thing:

iPhone 4's iPod screen after installing iOS 4.2.1 (click for larger)

iPhone 4's iPod screen after installing iOS 4.2.1 (click for larger)

Strangely, when I check my settings panel, everything looks normal: I can see I’ve got music and a few videos.

iPhone 4's "About" screen after iOS 4.2.1 update showing songs and videos on the device (click for larger)

iPhone 4's "About" screen after iOS 4.2.1 update showing songs and videos on the device (click for larger)

The only thing I can think of is that the PC I used to perform the iOS update is not the PC that I originally loaded my music from. Could that account for it? It hasn’t been a problem in the past when I’ve done the same thing.

Anyone else having trouble?

Update, 4:48 p.m.: Thanks to reader jonoo who suggested re-connecting the iPhone to the PC and playing a few tracks in iTunes FROM the iPhone’s library, then disconnecting the iPhone. It works! All tracks are now back.

Let us know if this fix does not work for you.



      • bill

        It worked for me as well (connecting to Itunes, browsing to the iphone then music and playing a few of the songs sotored on the phone).

        THANKS for the help!! Happy Turkey Day


    • Hotproperty

      I have had the same problem. But it happened before when I had to restore my Iphone on IOS 4. It seems that the problem happens when you add the Ipod content manually.


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  2. Hotproperty

    Actually I have just noticed that if you go to the tab “music” of your itunes, you will see that the songs you had added manually are all there when you scroll it down. All you have to do is to sync music and It will all come back to your IPOD. But I guess only if the songs are stored in your computer. In my case I got everthing back just by checking sync music


  3. krome

    Exact same thing here on an iPhone 4 (4.1 –> 4.2). Solution worked as described above:
    – play songs in iTunes that are on your iphone
    – disconnect



  4. SueMc

    I’ve had no problems with music, videos or podcasts, but I cannot add any audio books that were not on my iphone prior to the upgrade. I had 4 books on the iphone, and I can remove and add back any of those 4, but I cannot add any of the other 30 or so I have in iTunes. I know they’re there, because I can play them in iTunes..

    Anyone else experience this?


    • TimW

      Same problem here but there is a special fix for audiobooks. It seems iTunes slightly changed some behaviors as follows:

      Under the SUMMARY tab Options there is a check box for “Sync only checked songs and videos”. In the past – I think – this function was over-rided by the BOOKS tab check box “Sync Books” and “Sync Audiobooks”. That is checking the afore mentioned processed the sync.

      Now with iOS 4.2.1 the SUMMARY tab Sync only checked overrides so each individual audiobook and each chapter must be checked.

      Re-sysnc then works. Hope this helps as it did for me. cheers…


  5. Bruno

    moi j’ai un autre problème: j’ai installé OS 4.2.1 et lorsque je synchronise mon iphone avec outlook cela coince sur les contacts. Au bout d’une heure je laisse tomber et annule la synchro. Bref impossible de synchroniser mon iphone
    Une idée ?? que faire??


  6. Bruno

    Sorry…I have another problem. I downloaded OS 4.2.1 this morning and since then I have a problem when I am synching my iPhone with Outlook. It gets stuck when synching the contacts. after one hour waiting I have no other choice but to cancel the synchronization. Any idea on how to solve the problem?? MANY thanks !!


  7. tikaani

    Thank you! I upgraded last night and when I went to listen to music today it was gone!! I was dreading having to put music on again (I share my library with my teenagers and there is FAR more music than would fit on my phone). I did what you suggested and it was like magic. Thank you for saving me time and anger :)


  8. JD

    I looked at my iphone after reading this article and yes, there was no music on it. I did what was recommended and it was back. What is weird is that this issue did not happen with my iPad.All the media was there.


  9. Jarrod

    iPhone 4; OS 4.2 wiped about 200 random contacts. Strangely enough, some were wiped completely, some names were left with no contact information, while others were left unscathed. Must be the strangest bug I’ve seen with an iOS update. I can’t seem to fix it at all, because I have my iPhone set to auto-backup and sync when connected, so by the time I realized my contacts were wiped, iTunes had already backed up the “new” contacts list. Help!


  10. Jarrod

    iPhone 4; OS 4.2 wiped about 200 random contacts. Strangely enough, some were wiped completely, some names were left with no contact information, while others were left unscathed. Must be the strangest bug I’ve seen with an iOS update. I can’t seem to fix it at all, because I have my iPhone set to auto-backup and sync when connected, so by the time I realized my contacts were wiped, iTunes had already backed up the “new” contacts list. Help!


  11. Daniel

    This also happened on my Iphone 3G, last night I have upgraded to 4.2.1 and today at my office I have realized that there was no music on the IPOD, thanks to all for the solution, I will try it tonight.


    • sara

      This happened to me too. I am still in shock. I hadn’t hooked up to iTunes since July so I’ve lost contacts, calendar info.. everything. *sigh* Let me know if you hear of any solutions.


  12. Melissa

    Ok help! I’ve lost all my folders. Twice. I Backed up and installed then noticed all my folders were gone so I reconnected the phone and restored from back up and no success. Folders gone. Apps all over the place in no particular order. So I started rebuilding my folders and had them almost all done. Then I plugged it into a wall outlet to charge and came back and noticed all my folders are gone again! I’m so frustrated. Anyone else have this problem or a fix for it?


  13. christophe

    HI everybody , after reading your comments ,i realise my pbm is different but due to same upgrade : I CANNOT SYNCH OUTLOOK CALENDAR WITH MY IPHONE CALENDAR ANYMORE , which is essential for my job and i guess it s not possible to downgrade back right ? so i wonder what s the f…. point with that ! Is it an Apple’s strategie for selling more iphone 4 ? too simple .
    An expression of incompetence ? i don t believe it . So what’s going on ?


    • taz2491

      im having the same calander problem. I have Iphone3gs, using pc/outlook and moblie me, wife has the same, but no mobile me. my calander sync, but hers will not. I’ve checked all the setting. her calander is completely blank, it restored and sync over and over with no change, help help help


  14. Lonny

    I hate updating my iphone4….. between having to download and install the latest version of itunes (takes forever), downloading the software update (longer still) backing up the phone (zzzzzzz), then updating the phone (seems to get hung right in the middle of it) it takes hours, and for what? I hope this latest update is worth all the time I am spending on it.


  15. Christophe

    Hello Simon ! thank you for writing ,actually since i got an iphone,Itunes synches my calendars and i have to say pretty good ( i use Diskaid for folders and files).
    I guess that an upgrade can cancel some settings in the Iphone and and may do indirectly the same in Itunes , so i still looking for something to ajust …


  16. Josh

    Same thing happened here. I just simply performed a second sync and I have everything back, no big. Glad that’s all it was.


  17. Mar

    The update TOTALLY wiped out ALL .mp3 files on my iPod Touch!!! I tried all the suggestions, but the iPod crashed during the updating process.

    With my iPhone 4, whenever I open the Yahoo app, no pictures show up.


    • christophe

      HI Samir , check my two interventions on the previous page , i m experiencing the same thing and it s a mess at work everyday since this UP G. made . I have to print my schedule , write down on it all day and report at night on my PC’s Outlook to perform this again for next day ! As we say in France : MERDE !
      Promise to bring the solution to you if i find before , please do the same for me ( i check this forum every two days )thanks
      Next thing i will try : getting some on line help with Apple .


  18. Mike

    I have the same problem with my iPhone 3G with the music however I’m not at home to try the fixes. However, is anyone having any other issues? I was under the impression there were like 17 new Text tones in the latest update and I’m still only showing the original 5.


  19. keith

    Thanks to Hotproperty above for suggesting to sync the music in itunes. worked great and only took a minute.


  20. thebestrebecca

    Thank you! This worked like a charm – all the audiobooks were there, places saved and everything. Likewise, I didn’t manually add songs to the iPhone after updating. Syncing again and playing from the iPhone library on iTunes was great.


  21. Gigi


    No need to sync, no computer needed.
    Here’s the complete post by GRIGA (all credit goes to him/her) on osxdaily.com

    “Guys, it’s much easier than that. Iphone 4, 4.2.1 Just

    1. change the language to any other,
    2. try opening ipod. Wait (up to a minute) for library to update
    3. then revert back to English

    If you happen to speak only English (most of US residents?), then here is the guide for French system: language = langue, English = Anglais

    Good luck;)”

    That’s it ;-)


  22. kristen

    help! i lost all ipod content and so i hooked up to itunes, played some songs and disconnected and that worked.
    HOWEVER now the songs that are in my purchased on iphone playlist are all messed up.
    when i touch a song to play, the song underneath it plays. some songs show album art for a completely different artist while playing.
    any suggestions??



  23. Calique

    Gigi you rock!!! The language switch works and no need to connect to iTunes!
    Fix right in you hand!!
    Thanks again. 


  24. Maburchn

    Anyone have problem with iPhone 4 when updating to OS 4.2.1? Updated today and all info stored and associated with my apps are gone including contacts, pictures in my camera folder, and notes.


  25. Mike

    This same thing happened to me, but 3 weeks after I upgraded. I plugged into a PC to just charge, but yanked the connection as the MS wizard came up to ask me “hey what you want to do with these files”. I think that corrupted it. When I get home I will sync and play on my ‘home itunes’ box. I’ll update from there to give reults.


  26. Sherry

    Thank you SO much…I played a few songs from my iPod’s library in iTunes, then disconnected and all my content was magically restored! I about had a heart attack when I thought I’d lost all my music, playlists and purchased content that wasn’t all on my computer. You made my day!


  27. heba

    hey, i’m thinking of buying the IP 4, but i’m not so sure any more after reading about its problems wz the antenna and the yellow spots on the screen, and the proximity problems and the breakble glass, r these problems stil an issue ?? or r they fixed ?, i really need an answer …


  28. Sharon

    I had the “No content” problem on my ipod after I updated, got that worked out, but now I can’t sync up changes I made to iTunes playlists with what’s on my ipod. When I go to Sync, the message about iTunes overwriting everything on my ipod comes up. Well, that’s what I’m trying to do. But it only deletes my ipod content.

    On the Sync page, after I select “Sync only selected playlists, artists, etc” it gives me no list of playlists, artists, etc. from which to choose.

    Not to lead any answers, but might this be because I had to use Touch Copy to transfer my music library from the ipod to my new computer after my old one crashed?


  29. BJ

    I have a weird question. My girlfriend updated her iPhone 3G to iOS 4.2.1 and had this same problem. However, the computer from which all the music on her phone came from does not exist anymore so the only computer she has available to sync with is my computer which only has a fraction of her music on there. I’m not really sure where to go from here as I am afraid to sync it with mine because it might erase all of her music. Any suggestions?


  30. C

    Had the same problem. Called Apple support. Restored from back-up. (right-click on device, select “restore from back-up”, not (!!) restore to original settings from the menu on the right in itunes when the device is selected) I recommended to Apple support that they publish that they have a problem (maybe they could post the fix since it’s easy). They indicated that the problem was Windows…


  31. ML

    Thank you everyone! I had upgraded to the latest OS 4.2 Iphone software, lost my calendar, all the apps, and all the songs on the ipod. Tried your suggestions and they worked! GREAT JOB, better help here than at the apple store. Thank you so much.


  32. Theresa

    Just FYI – I didn’t have this problem until I undated the newest 4.3 version and now no ipod. I will try your solution of playing tracks on the pc in itunes and see if it works. How frustrating. On one of the previous updates, it killed my calendar which crashed every time I opened it. A later update seems to have fixed that problem.


  33. Gertjan

    After iOS 4.3.1 update all iTunes Lib content is lost – Onkels still Shows Videos 33 under Setting Panel the Songs are down To ‘0’ thoigh! Ehen connected alledgidly 14gb Songs are On the phone but iPod Shows no content whatsoever… Any ideas?