The iPhone “__” could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (14). Have you encountered this error while attempting to restore or update your iOS with iTunes?

This is an issue that has been frequently popping up for iPhone users in 2020 and Apple still has not provided its userbase with a definitive and reliable method for resolving this issue.

However, the causes for this error code appearing are available to the public which has allowed iPhone users to contrive their own troubleshooting methods.

This article will expand on the causes of iTunes error 14 and outline some of the most successful troubleshooting methods in tackling each respective cause and resolving the iTunes error 14 issue.

What is iTunes Error 14?

iTunes error 14 is an issue many iPhone users have encountered in 2020 that occurs when attempting to restore or update the phone’s iOS through iTunes. This commonly occurs with iPhones that are near or at full storage capacity. This is defined as having 80% or more of your storage capacity filled.

As this error code relates to your iPhone’s storage, many irate users have lost valuable files on their phone, such as photos and videos, as a result of this error. To mitigate the chances of this happening to you, do not continue attempting to restore or update your phone through iTunes.

Instead, it is imperative that you figure out the cause of the error and proceed to the corresponding troubleshooting method listed below. Follow the instructions to each troubleshooting method very closely so as to mitigate the potential for lost and irretrievable files. The next section will detail the causes for this error code.

Causes of iTunes Error 14

There are several potential reasons you might be encountering iTunes error 14 on your iPhone. It is crucial that you narrow down which cause applies to your situation so that you can aptly apply one of the troubleshooting methods listed in the next section. Here is a list of the most commonly reported causes for users who have encountered iTunes error 14.

Issues with USB Cable or Port

iTunes Error 14 is most commonly attributed to a problem with the USB cable connecting one’s iPhone to their computer. This could be due to a range of issues, from using a USB cable that is not compatible with iPhones or other Apple devices to a weathered or worn out USB cable that is not functioning to standard.

This could also be due to an issue with the USB ports in one’s computer. This is either due to a user plugging into a keyboard USB port rather than the computer’s USB port or simply a faulty USB port.

Using an Outdated Version of iTunes

Some users have reported encountering iTunes error 14 due to using an outdated version of iTunes software. This can prevent iTunes from being able to download the necessary firmware to allow for an effective restoration or update of your iPhone’s iOS.

Corrupt Firmware

Some users have attributed corrupted firmware downloaded by iTunes software to update their iPhone to be responsible for iTunes error 14. This occurs when certain files on your iPhone are deleted or misplaced prior to the update process.

Low Storage Space

As mentioned earlier in the article, this error code commonly afflicts iPhone users who are at 80% or higher storage capacity on their iPhone. All updates, by design, come bundled with new files and features that consume storage space.

If there is not enough storage space available on your iPhone to accommodate the update, your iPhone will not be able to complete the update and this error will be triggered.

Internet Connectivity Issues

Finally, it is entirely possible that your restoration process or update failed due to internet connectivity issues rather than any fault of your devices or software. If you are sure that none of the potential causes listed above apply to you, then double-check your internet connection as this is what might have prompted iTunes error 14.

How to Fix iTunes Error 14

Now that we have gone over the most commonly reported causes for iTunes error 14, it is time to work towards resolving the issue. There is a troubleshooting method for each of the issues detailed in the preceding section.

Before you begin with any of the troubleshooting methods listed below, ensure that you have nailed down exactly which cause is creating the iTunes error 14 issue on your mobile device.

After you have done that, move on to the troubleshooting method listed below that most aptly relates to your specific issue. Here is the list of troubleshooting methods for each cause related to iTunes error 14.

1. Troubleshoot with your USB Cable and/or Port

If you believe there is an issue with your USB cable or port, there are several methods for troubleshooting this issue. First, let us start with USB cable-related troubleshooting methods and work down to the USB port-related troubleshooting methods.

USB CABLE: If you are using an off-brand lightning USB cable or an Apple lightning USB cable that did not originally come with your iPhone, then it is possible that that is the reason you are encountering iTunes error 14.

Try switching back to the original Apple lightning USB cable that came with your iPhone. If you no longer have the original Apple lightning USB cable, or if you are using an off-brand lightning USB cable, then purchasing and using a brand-new Apple lightning USB cable should work too.

USB PORT: If you are plugging your Apple lightning USB cable into a USB port on your keyboard, try plugging the Apple lightning USB cable directly into your computer instead. Also, if your computer has several USB ports, try switching to a different USB port as one of your USB ports might be faulty. It might be worth giving each USB port a clean with an air duster before moving on to the next troubleshooting method.

2. Update to the Latest Version of iTunes Software

If you are using an antiquated version of iTunes, it is likely that its software does not contain the necessary firmware to allow for a restoration or update for your mobile device. There is a separate set of instructions for updating your iTunes software dependent on whether you are a MacOS user or a Windows user.

To update your iTunes software on Windows, follow these four steps.

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Once iTunes is open, click the “iTunes” option in the menu bar.
  3. Select the “Check for Updates” option in the drop-down menu.
  4. Follow the onscreen prompts to update to the latest version of iTunes.

To update your iTunes software on MacOS, follow these four steps.

  1. Open the Apple Menu or navigate to your Dock and click on “System Preferences”.
  2. Select the “Check for Updates” option.
  3. Follow the onscreen prompts to install the update for MacOS.
  4. Once MacOS has completed its update, iTunes will be updated as well.

3. Remove the IPSW File from your Computer

If you believe you are encountering iTunes error 14 because of corrupted firmware files on your computer, your best course of action may be to remove the IPSW file from your computer.

An IPSW file is a file that contains information related to updating and restoring that is used by the iTunes software application. If you remove the IPSW file from your computer, iTunes will automatically download a new copy of the IPSW which should resolve any corrupted firmware file issues on your computer.

There is a separate set of instructions for removing IPSW files from your computer dependent on whether you are a MacOS user or a Windows user. 

To locate and remove the IPSW file on a Mac, follow these six steps.

  1. Click on Finder in your Dock and subsequently hold down the “Option” key.
  2. Select “Go” from the menu bar.
  3. Choose “Library” from the drop-down menu. If you do not hold down the “Option” key during Step 1 you will not see “Library” as an option.
  4. Open the Library’s iTunes folder.
  5. Look for a folder called “iPhone/iPad/iPod Software Updates”.
  6. Select the file corresponding to “iPhone Software Updates” and delete the file.

To locate and remove the IPSW file on Windows 8-10 if there are more than one users for the computer, follow these seven steps.

  1. Navigate to the computer’s /Users directory.
  2. Click on the USERNAME of the user who is encountering the issue.
  3. Go to “App Data”.
  4. Then, navigate to “Roaming”.
  5. Then, go to “Apple Computer”.
  6. Click on “iTunes”.
  7. Delete the IPSW file in this location.

To locate and remove the IPSW file on Windows 8-10 if there is only one user, simply type in “.ipsw” into the search field of Windows File Explorer and delete the IPSW file associated with iTunes. 

These steps are applicable to Windows 7 and Vista users, however, the steps for Windows XP users slightly differ. To locate and remove the IPSW file on Windows XP, follow these seven steps.

  1. Open “Documents and Settings”.
  2. Click on the USERNAME of the user who is encountering the issue.
  3. Go to “Application Data”.
  4. Then, navigate to “Apple Computer”.
  5. Then, go to “iTunes”.
  6. Once there, select “iPhone (iPad/iPod) Software Updates”.
  7. Delete the IPSW file in this location.

Once you have completed the steps to locate and remove the IPSW file on your computer, there are additional steps you must now take to ensure that the corrupted files are gone and restore/update your iTunes software to obtain the necessary firmware.

To ensure the corrupted files are gone and restore/update your iTunes software, follow these five steps. These steps apply to both Windows and MacOS users.

  1. Close iTunes on your computer.
  2. Now open iTunes again on your computer.
  3. Check that you deleted the .ipsw file by navigating to “iPhone Software Updates” using the steps that apply to your operating software listed earlier in this section.
  4. Restore and Upgrade your mobile device by following the iTunes prompts.
  5. Once completed, there should be no iTunes error 14, problem solved!

4. Check your Internet Connection

If none of the troubleshooting methods listed above have resolved iTunes error 14 for you, it is likely that you are experiencing iTunes error 14 due to internet connectivity issues on your end.

A specific thing to look for is packet loss. Data sent and received over the internet is done so in packets and when these data packets fail to reach the desired final destination then this is called packet loss.

To test for packet loss on your computer, there are various tools you can download or find on the internet such as the PRTG Packet Loss Test or the MTR Tool that will help you do so. If you are experiencing packet loss, there are several troubleshooting methods you can try to resolve the issue. These troubleshooting methods are listed here.

  1. Check the physical conditions.
  2. Restart the system.
  3. Update the software,
  4. Use reliable cable connection instead of Wi-Fi.
  5. Replace out-of-date hardware.
  6. Link balance.

In Conclusion

iTunes error 14 is an unfortunate error to come across as it is likely that if you have encountered it, then you have already lost files on your phone or computer. If you are reading this article, it is likely that you have already encountered iTunes error 14, but there is still time to resolve the issue and stop the damage from multiplying.

If you follow the troubleshooting methods listed in the section above as precisely as possible, then you should be able to resolve the issue and mitigate the damage done to your phone and/or computer. At least one of these methods will resolve your specific issue and they will all save you a lengthy amount of time on hold with Apple Customer Support.