Fix Error 3194 from iTunes during iPhone restore
If you run into Error 3194 within iTunes when you are trying to restore your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can fix it by temporarily blocking Apple’s firmware signing services. Error 3194 seems to usually be triggered when unsigned or expired firmware is used, often during an iOS downgrade or upgrade, or even during some restores.
If you experience the error on your iOS device, here’s how you can quickly resolve it so that iTunes will function with the restore or iOS update as intended. This applies to all versions of iTunes on both Mac and Windows PC, here’s how to resole the error.
Fix Error 3194
The fix is the same regardless of what operating system you are using:
- Quit iTunes
- Locate your hosts file, in Mac OS X this is /etc/hosts and in Windows this is c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
- Open the hosts file with Administrator privileges
- Add the following lines to the very bottom of the hosts file and save the change:
- Connect your iPhone to the computer
- Launch iTunes
- Put the iPhone/iPad/iPod into DFU mode by turning the phone off and then holding down the sleep and power button for 10 seconds, then release the power button but hold onto the home button until iTunes tells you that the device is now in recover mode
- Use the iTunes Restore feature as usual with the iOS device
You may need to flush your DNS cache for the change to take effect, though usually just quitting and relaunching iTunes is sufficient to get the app to recognize the change.
Once your iOS update is finished, go back to the hosts file and remove the “126.96.36.199 gs.apple.com” line again so that iTunes can properly update as usual. This is an essential step otherwise you may encounter future errors when trying to update or install iOS versions.
Note that iTunes Error 3194 can also happen sometimes if the wrong firmware version is used, and you will see an error message like “This device isn’t eligible for the requested build”, which is why it’s necessary to always use the appropriate firmware files for your device if you are performing manual updates. Or better yet, just let iTunes or iOS update itself without trying to use the firmware files manually.
If you need them, you can get the latest versions of iPhone firmware, iPad firmware, and iPod touch firmware directly from Apple. Keep in mind that the signing window for downgrading iOS versions has shrank dramatically, and without a history of storing SHSH blobs there is no way to revert back to prior versions of iOS once that happens. In that case, no amount of tweaking hosts or adjusting IP’s is going to make a difference to restore to older IPSW, and thus you would have to either keep the current iOS version or opt to upgrade to a newer version to escape the 3194 error.
For those who want to know, the IP address being temporarily used and re-associating gs.apple.com with is saurik’s (of Cydia fame) signing server.
If you’re having trouble figuring out the whole hosts file situation, click here for a walkthrough on the process, demonstrating how to make changes to hosts and how to make those changes take effect if they are not instantly recognized by the OS.
Still Getting Error 3194 in iTunes? What now?
If you still encounter the error, or you find another iTunes error, go back into the hosts file and place # (pound sign) in front of the IP addresses in question, thereby preventing their association. This may look something like the following:
Save the file and try to restore the iOS device again. Flushing DNS cache is sometimes necessary.
Each IP rule with a # in front of it becomes voided. You can also delete the IP’s and their associated domains, but that isn’t entirely necessary.
Why does error 3194 happen at all?
For most users, the 3194 error is encountered because at some point in time, they used a jailbreak utility to modify their iOS device, and in that process of modification the jailbreak tweak modified the hosts file thereby blocking Apple’s servers. Initially that’s not a problem, but it can trigger the error when iOS is later attempted to be updated to a new version, restored from a backup, or modified. Most modern jailbreak apps will make the necessary changes to prevent the error from ever being triggered, but that isn’t always the case.
In more rare occurrences, Error 3194 can happen when there is an unrelated connectivity problem between the client and host server during an iOS upgrade or restore. In those cases, usually attempting again in another minute or two will let the issue sort itself out and things will be working again as usual.
Thank you to Parakeet for providing this fix. Updated 1/4/2015