Like many, I recently purchased the iPhone 4S and sold my iPhone 4 on eBay. In the process of wiping the phone and getting it ready to ship to the buyer, I experienced a restore issue that had me frantically searching the web for answers.
My 4S was running a jailbroken version of iOS 4.3.3. The purchaser didn’t want iOS 5 on the phone, so I downloaded a 4.3.5 IPSW from Apple. When I tried to put the phone in restore mode and Shift+Restore in iTunes, it would start to work and then give an error “The iPhone could not be restored. Unknown Error 3194.”
iPhone Error 3194
Based on the research I did over the next couple of hours, I discovered that Error 3194 is fairly generic and seems to stem from a connectivity issue. Apple’s server for some reason cannot verify the firmware IPSW that you’re using. It seems to happen when you’re downgrading firmware or even in a restore situation like mine. It can happen if you’re using an unsigned (Jailbroken) IPSW or apparently even one directly downloaded from Apple.
Junk That Didn’t Work
Solutions on various forums and blogs range from trying a new USB connector, using a rear USB connector vs a front mounted one on a desktop, to cleaning the USB connectors (seriously!). I tried other solutions from the Jailbreak world including TinyUmbrella and iReb which tried to take the phone through DFU mode and use ninja magic to get the phone out of what they called a restore loop. No luck.
The Solution That Worked for Me
Finally after about a dozen tries, I found something that fixed the issue, at least for me. It involves editing your hosts file to temporarily block Apple’s firmware signing services. The hosts file is basically an address book. It tells your computer where to find web sites. Normally, your computer will look on the Internet for this information, but anything in your hosts file takes precedence. If you type in Yahoo.com, your computer will ask the Internet where the Yahoo web server is located and go there. If you have defined a different location for Yahoo in your hosts file, your computer will go there instead.
Disclaimer: If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can really screw up your computer by dinking around in the hosts file. So only do what’s prescribed below. Exactly. In order.
Fixing the Problem
- Close iTunes
- Locate your hosts file
- Mac: /etc
- Windows: c:\windows\system32\etc)
- In Windows, find Notepad in the windows menu, right click, then Run as Administrator. Click File > Open and browse to the location above. At the bottom right, change Text Documents to All Files, then open the hosts file.
- Turn it off by holding the power button and swiping
- When it’s off, hold down the power and home buttons for a count of 10 seconds
- Then release the power button while still holding the home button
- In about 10 seconds, iTunes will announce it has found am iPhone in recovery mode