Apple activation server down on iOS 7

By Daniel Chubb - Oct 6, 2013

We are getting reports today from a number of our readers about their iPad or iPhone 5, 4S and other models running into activation problems with iOS 7. We had an email this morning from one iPad 4 user claiming that they could not activate their device that runs iOS 7, and this error message only appeared today that also locks them out of using their tablet.

After receiving this email and finding hundreds of comments with similar problems we took a look at our iPhone 4S running iOS 7 beta (Gold Master). This device also has the same issues, and right now states “Could not activate iPhone”. This is thanks to the Apple activation server being down for iOS 7 devices, so that could be either an iPad or iPhone.

You can see the message one of our devices states below, which basically explains the iPhone could not active because of the activation server being temporarily unavailable. You are then told to try and connect the iPhone, or iPad, to iTunes for activation.


When you connect to iTunes and try to backup your iPad or iPhone you will see another error message, “iTunes could not back up the iPhone/iPad because a session could not be started”. This is thanks to the phone or tablet being locked out until it can be activated.

If you are one of the 6 million Apple developers and didn’t update your device to iOS 7.0.2, then you might be experiencing these problems today. We expect the Apple activation server to be back up soon, but at the time of writing it is still down.

We will look for a fix or another way to update, but in the meantime we have not found a solution for either the iPad or iPhone.

If you have seen the activation server is temporarily unavailable message, did you have iOS 7 beta software installed or were you running a public release?

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  • Ryan Marchant

    DFU was the only thing that got me out of this nonsense. Thanks for the tip.

  • Silverlake

    This was my problem. Also, had Find My iPhone active on iPhone 5. Nothing worked. Said I needed new iOS but would not restore because I needed to turn off Find My iPhone first—could not access iPhone to do this. Ack. iTunes message was my iOS was out of date (i’m a developer. I downloaded new GM, downloaded new iTunes, selected check for update with option key depressed, found new GM and updated iPhone. This allowed me to verify password for account. All is good now.

  • Scott Walker

    I was on IOS beta. Just tried to activate @ 11 PST . Still down.

  • Jeff

    I had a very different issue today. I woke up to my iPhone 4’s touch screen functions acting strangely. I am unable to slide to my home screen, as touching any feature on the lock screen causes the Siri voice to speak the name of the button. Sliding wasn’t working to go to my home screen, nor could I turn the phone off because the screen would not slide. The only thing I could figure out was that double-tapping the assistive touch feature allowed it to open, but nothing I could do from there provides any was to help the issue.

  • MarioCarlos87

    It worked for me by using DFU mode and then restoring form my iCloud back up. No time to wait for Apple to fix their activation server.
    @ David Deibler: Thanks for the advice man

    • tommylandmedia

      Worked like a charm. Thanks!

  • mindbomb

    is this going to be solved or I have to DFU and lose my data (last backup is 2 months ago)???

  • Matt

    iPhone 4S running beta.

  • farmerpaul

    I had iOS 7 Beta installed on my iPad Mini and woke up to this message and deadlock. A tad inconvenient. Decided to go read a book instead.

  • Jr

    ios 7 beta here, you just have to download the correct firmware and update your phone, unfortunately if you’re phone is not backed up you’ll probably lose everything

  • Avi Alkalay

    My iPad 4 has iOS 7 since the developer days, even before GM. Today he woke up locked and can’t unlock it. I’ve tryied in past many times to upgrade iOS, but it always said it was in last version.

    When I plug it into iTunes, the computer says my software has expired. I don’t like that… its not that I didn’t try to upgrade before. It just said I was already on latest version.

    I tryied an iTunes restore wiping my entire device, but ended up in same situation. Now I’m trying a DFU restore but I think I’ll get into same situation again.

    • Avi Alkalay

      The DFU restore worked. Which means this is not Apple server down but some incompatibility between old iOS 7 and new server protocols.

      The activation passed and now I’m restoring from iCloud backup.

      • David Deibler

        There is a brief flash of a window that says the software has expired and
        has to be updated. I think you are correct. The beta version can’t talk to
        the activation server .

  • David Deibler

    Put device in DFU mode and connect to iTunes. Restore and update . worked for me

  • Pelle

    I have the same problem. Was running the IOS 7 Beta. Can’t access my phone..

    • David Deibler

      did you try dfu mode ?

      • Pelle

        Yes thanks. It worked fine for me..
        But i lost some of my data since it was 2 months since i backed it up..

  • Md

    I dont understand why such a giant company like apple have flaws like this, at times my itunes does not detect my iPhone and at times i cant find photos on it, very costly but not a user friendly device. And now i have to make important calls but cant switch it on because of their server problem. Very disappointing. 🙁

    • Frank Kavanagh

      I threw my iphone in the bin and got an Android. Best thing i’ve ever done

  • joe

    i had the same problem here in france. I am doing a DFU restore on my iphone and so far its looking good.

  • Mike Sheppard

    Both my iPhone 5 and latest gen iPad have the same problem today. Installed the latest ios 7 beta, and it never prompted me to install updates so now I’m getting the same problem. Ipad was restored from a backup, but it won’t let me do anything with my iPhone. Maybe have to wait until their servers are back up?

  • iPhone5

    Sorry, not very tech savy but what’s a DFU restore

    • joe

      it is a way to restore it if you have find my iphone turned on. Plug it into itunes (make sure it is latest version) Hold the off and home button down for 10 secs then let go of the off button but still hold the home button for another 10 secs

  • TheChief

    my iPhone is dead since last night, about 330am central european time – hence over 6 hours already. Im hesitant to restore, because I haven’t a recent backup on my drive..

    I heard a DFU restore will work

  • Riz

    My phone is dead. Any suggestions to help?

  • shaunky

    phew, glad im not the only one.

  • Peter

    I have iOS 7.0 GA installed and I am an iOS developer. Woke up this morning with a locked-out phone. Nice combo, automatic update + activation server down. Luckily it’s sunday so I don’t have much business to tend to. Perhaps the update process should require the activation server to be UP, before it starts…

  • David Anderson

    I am getting the same problem and yes I had the beta installed. I can’t restore the phone as it says I have to turn ‘find my iphone’ off, but I can’t get into the phone to do so. Their servers are actually up, so it isn’t a server problem. It is driving me crazy.

    • Mustafa A

      Have you found a solution? This is driving me crazy too!!

      • David Anderson

        Yes, you have to download the 7.02 update specific to your phone manually, then apply that update.

        • Mustafa A

          That worked for me. Thanks

  • Ramy

    Same issue here.
    I had a beta installed, but updated to the public release once available.
    Now my iPhone 5 is dead. Damn.