How to Fix a Hanging, Failed or Incomplete iPhone Software Update (aka Your Phone is a Brick)

My Last iPhone Software Update Drama
Four months ago, my wife bought me an iPhone. During a Software Update, the iPhone decided to stop the installation at around 70-80% and hang. I unplugged the device after 2 hours of hanging and tried to restore my backup. It didn't work. Each restore operation also failed/hung around 70-80%. I called tech support and they told me to try deleting the Software Update and re-download. They also had me uninstall and reinstall iTunes. Nothing. Back then, my iPhone was still in it's 2 week trial period so I marched back to AT&T and got a full refund.

Today's iPhone Software Update Drama
My wife surprised me again on Christmas with another iPhone. We figured the last unit was defective and the chance of a 2nd defective unit is near zero. For the past month, I've been syncing with a Dell Inspiron 530 flawlessly.

Today, Apple released the 2.2.1 update. So I plugged in the iPhone and began the update. I was relieved when it passed the 70-80% mark. I was even more relieved to see the entire progress bar fill up to 100%. I eagerly awaited the obvious reboot that should follow. I "eagerly waited" for 2 hours. Once again, the iPhone got "bricked" during a Software Update.

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iPhone Lightning Doesn't Strike Twice

Since I'm an IT guy, I know the chance of getting 2 bad iPhone's is rare. Here I am looking at a 2nd failed Software Update that "hangs" near the end of the update. Something is wrong and it's not the phone. My existing computer is a Dell Inspiron 530 with QX6600 QuadCore processor and 4gb of memory. I came to the conclusion there must be some kind of software or hardware incompatibility with the iPhone and my PC. Just to be safe, I picked up the phone and called AT&T's dedicated Apple tech support (since I can't return the friggin' thing). These guys were very patient the last time and I was pleased to get the same experience.

The Troubleshooting Steps to Fix a Hung iPhone Software Update
Here's what the rep had me do.

    First, he had me disable my Antivirus and unplug my HP Printer. Apparently they've seen compatibility issues with HP USB drivers and A/V software. I went a step further and unplugged all USB connections except for the mouse and keyboard. In the end, the update still failed at 100%.
    Step 2: Instead of using the Front USB port, I tried the rear USB port since the iPhone may fail with USB 1.1 ports. Again, failure.

How I Fixed the Failed iPhone Software Update
The rep had already hung up by step 2 adding he would call back later. I performed the following steps to get the iPhone working again.

1. I installed iTunes on a 2nd Compaq slave computer.
2. The install went flawlessly and everything updated. Once the update completed though, I was left with a "Slide for Emergency" screen. Apparently, all my info was lost since I installed the iPhone Software 2.2.1 Update through a fresh installation of iTunes on a different computer.
3. I unplugged the iPhone and plugged it back into the original Dell Inspiron 530 PC. iTunes recognized the fresh iPhone required a Restore and prompted me to Restore/Update the phone. I agreed and iTunes restored everything to perfection. Once it was done, the phone Sync'd and all my Apps, Contacts and info were back.

So, if you're iPhone is dead after trying a Software Update, try installing the update through another computer to get it working again. Then sync it with the original PC to restore all your files, photos, contacts and apps. Good luck.