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iPhone Issue Surrenders to Good Troubleshooting

I jumped into Device Manager on my production PC this morning in search of audio drive info. I couldn’t help but notice that one of my Portable Devices flashed the yellow exclamation mark (!). Turns out my iPhone had apparently gone south (but this is one case where an iPhone issue surrenders to good troubleshooting). In fact, the General tab for the device read:

This device is not working properly because Windows cannot load the drivers required for this device (code 31).

My first step in figuring things out wasn’t the last, but it was close. I searched on the error text above in Google, and found lots of hits. But none were for the iPhone so I re-submitted the query string with an “iPhone” at its head. And sure enough, I immediately found a relevant Q&A on the Dell Laptop forums entitled “IPhone Driver cannot load (code 31).” It ultimately produced the following and very welcome status display in Device Manager, too:

It’s always nice when trouble goes down without a big fight.

How Many Ways Can the iPhone Link Go Bad?

Thanks to advice from Dell-Terry B, I got a list of things to check to run down the source of the problem:

  1. Check the USB cable (in this case a USB-to-Lightning connector): switching in a known good working cable proved to make no difference, so that wasn’t the cause.
  2. Verify that Apple Mobile Device Support is installed: this necessitated a trip into Programs and Features where I saw the software was indeed installed. A right-click on same offered a “Repair” option, so I took it. This apparently uninstalled and then reinstalled the software, which did the trick. My device status changed to “The device is working properly” and the exclamation point disappeared.
  3. Restart the Apple Mobile Device Service
  4. Restart the Apple Mobile Device Service
  5. Check for third-party mobile phone software (if you’ve connected another phone to the system, this may be the problem)
  6. Troubleshoot third-party security software (this involves elimination testing for all 3rd-party services, which can be a real PITA)

I’m glad I got off that escalator at step 2. The other steps grow more onerous, particularly Step 6, which involves trial-and-failure experimentation to identify an offending program or service. Been there, done that, no fun at all!2