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iTunes for Windows: iTunes can't contact the iPhone, iPad, or iPod software update server

Symptoms

When you try to update or restore an iPhone, iPad, or iPod in iTunes, one of the following alert messages appears:

  • iPhone: "iTunes could not contact the iPhone software update server because you are not connected to the Internet. Make sure your Internet connection is active and try again."
  • iPad: "iTunes could not contact the iPad software update server because you are not connected to the Internet. Make sure your Internet connection is active and try again."
  • iPod: "iTunes could not contact the iPod software update server because you are not connected to the Internet. Make sure your Internet connection is active and try again."

Resolution

If you can access your device's settings menu and connect to Wi-Fi, install the latest version of iOS over Wi-Fi using Settings > General > Software Update. If your device is locked with a forgotten passcode or in recovery mode, you will need iTunes to restore the device. 

If one of the alert messages above appears when you try to update or restore your iOS device, connect to the Internet with your preferred web browser, and access the iTunes Store.

If you cannot connect to the Internet with your web browser

Refer to your computer administrator or your Internet Service Provider. If the Internet connection is not working, try using an alternate computer and network to update or restore.

If you can connect to the Internet, but see an error when accessing the iTunes Store

If the iTunes Store shows a blank white page

If the iTunes Store opens successfully

Windows XP

  1. From the Start menu, choose Control Panel.
  2. Open the Internet Options control panel.
  3. Click the Connections tab.
  4. Click the LAN Settings button.
  5. Select the "Automatically detect settings" checkbox.
    Windows XP LAN settings
  6. Click OK in both windows.
  7. Reopen iTunes and connect your device.
  8. Update or restore your device.

Windows Vista and Windows 7

  1. From the Start menu, choose Control Panel.
  2. Select Network and Internet and select Internet Options. Or in Classic View, open the Internet Options control panel.
  3. Click the Connections tab.
  4. Click the LAN Settings button.
  5. Select the "Automatically detect settings" checkbox.
    Windows 7 LAN settings
  6. Click OK in both windows.
  7. Reopen iTunes and connect your device.
  8. Update or restore your device.

Windows 8

  1. Move the cursor to the upper-right corner.
  2. Click the magnifying glass.
  3. Type Control Panel. Click the Control Panel icon.
  4. Select Network and Internet and select Internet Options. Or in Classic View, open the Internet Options control panel.
  5. Click the Connections tab.
  6. Click the LAN Settings button.
  7. Select the "Automatically detect settings" checkbox.
  8. Click OK in both windows.
  9. Reopen iTunes and connect your device.
  10. Update or restore your device.

Additional Information

The hosts file may also be blocking gs.apple.com.

  1. Select the hosts file (normally you can find your hosts file at C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC).
  2. Click the Edit menu and choose Copy.
  3. Click the Edit menu again and choose Paste. A duplicate of the hosts file named "Copy of hosts" (Windows XP) or "hosts - Copy" (Windows Vista, 7, and 8) should appear.
  4. Drag the original hosts file to your desktop. If Windows needs your permission to continue, click Continue.
  5. Drag the "Copy of hosts" (Windows XP) or "hosts - Copy" (Windows Vista, 7, and 8) to the desktop.
  6. Right-click "Copy of hosts" (Windows XP) or "hosts - Copy" (Windows Vista, 7, and 8) and choose Open. You may be asked to choose the program you want to use to open this file. Double-click Notepad.
  7. When Notepad opens, click the Edit menu and choose Select All. From the Edit menu, choose Delete.
  8. From the File menu, choose Save. Close Notepad.
  9. Drag the "Copy of hosts" (Windows XP) or "hosts - Copy" (Windows Vista, 7, and 8) file from your desktop back into the original location. If Windows needs your permission to continue, click Continue.
  10. Right-click the "Copy of hosts" (Windows XP) or "hosts - Copy" (Windows Vista, 7, and 8) file, and choose Rename.
  11. Type hosts and press Enter.
  12. Restart your computer and try connecting to the software update server.

If the above steps do not resolve the issue, then the cause is likely out-of-date or incorrectly configured security software. Follow the steps in iTunes for Windows: Troubleshooting security software issues to resolve the issue.

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Jan 2, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Jan 2, 2014
  • Article: TS1814
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