Fix “The password you entered to protect your iPhone backup could not be set. Please try again” Error Message

Sep 14, 2015 - 14 Comments

Password entered to protect iPhone backup can not be set, try again error message in iTunes

If you have attempted to enable backup encryption in iTunes for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you may encounter this fairly frustrating error message; “The password you entered to protect your iPhone backup could not be set. Please try again.” Assuming you do try again, you wind up in an endless loop of entering a password that iTunes refuses to accept for setting for the encrypted backup.

With virtually no lead on how to resolve the error other than an infinite loop of entering passwords and seeing the same dialog again, it’s easy to get frustrated and give up on encrypting the backup, but you don’t need to do that, as it turns out there’s usually a fairly simple solution to fixing this ‘password could not be set’ error message, though it’s certainly not even close to obvious.


Fixing an iTunes error message when encrypting iPhone backups Here’s what you’ll need to resolve the “The password you entered to protect your iPhone backup could not be set. Please try again.” error message and successfully encrypt the backups in iTunes:

  1. Quit iTunes
  2. Disconnect the iPhone from the USB cable connecting to the computer if it is currently connected
  3. Connect the iPhones Lightning / charging USB cable to the computer, then reconnect the iPhone to that USB cable
  4. Relaunch iTunes
  5. Go to the “Summary” tab for your connected device and click to enable encrypted backups again
  6. Enter the password to set as the encrypted backup password twice as usual, then back up the iPhone as usual

At this point the message should not appear again, and here’s the reason why: the iPhone has been connected to iTunes via USB, an apparent necessity for setting an encrypted backup password. It will not set over the wi-fi syncing connection. Despite there being no hint in that direction, you must have the device connected with a physical USB cable for it to work. Curiously, sometimes the device will be connected with USB when the warning first appears, which is why we’re quitting iTunes and disconnecting and reconnecting the USB connection again, as that seems to resolve the attempt at using wi-fi syncing instead of the physical connection.

Indeed this is a bit weird and not at all intuitive from the error message, but toggling the USB connection and setting the password as usual will resolve things.

By the way, you should absolutely use the encrypted backup feature for iPhone backups, otherwise your backups to iTunes won’t be as complete as you may think they are – missing passwords, health information, and the personal data. You must use encrypted backups in order to have those pieces backed up successfully to iTunes, though that is not the case with iCloud backups as those are encrypted automatically.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Troubleshooting

14 Comments

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  1. Wharf Xanadu says:

    It just works.

  2. Aman says:

    worked like charm

  3. Daniel Ross says:

    Is this a similar problem when the request to enter your password repeatedly appears when starting up the computer, iPad or iPhone? After entering three or four times I just give up and everything still procedes normally although maybe not encrypted.

  4. Oliver says:

    After 2 hours on phone I got solution. Signed out of iTunes and iCloud on iPhone. Then held home button and lock button to force restart. Signed back in on iPhone. Plugged in and was able to do an encrypted backup.

  5. Frustrated Apple User says:

    total frustration. apple drove me nuts with this error. No help off their error, nothing on their site. thank you for saving me from having to call them. Work policy on the device forces encryption – that little evil checkbox was the culprit.

    • Mike SK says:

      Did this ever get resolved? I’m not trying to sync over wifi — that was turned off. I believe it’s the work policy for my email that is the issue. So what can I do?

  6. mickblu says:

    A much easier fix, after discovering from your article *why* it was failing (and your instructions didn’t resolve the problem) was to simply turn off the WiFi on the iMac (or iPhone I guess) and then, as the late Steve Jobs said, ‘It just works!’

  7. TK says:

    OMG. This works

  8. SaD says:

    Thank you so much.

    Such a simple solution after spending 30 minutes trying to get this to work.

    Internet sticky please! :)

  9. SM says:

    Hi,

    I’ve tried this and it still doesn’t work. I’m still getting the same error message – any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • BB says:

      Yeah, buy Android

    • Scarlet says:

      I am trying this for a few hours.. this solution doesnt work as well.

      I am not connecting this on wifi, using a cable.. I have also switched off the wifi and mobile data on my iphone- though this sounds so Dumb!!

      Why on Earth isnt this working???? Any help much appreciated!!!

  10. Andrew says:

    So what happens when you get the “Password cannot be set” while using Lightning cable not Wifi but then when you plug back in the Encryption Checkbox is selected and the option isn’t to turn on encryption but to change password.

    Any ideas? It said could not be set but then set it to something which is not the password I entered in the previous setup. Now stuck in constant “Password you entered is incorrect” loop instead.

    I had completed this all within 5 minutes so no chance I entered the wrong password to unlock it and doing some sort of typo in both Password entry fields during setup is so improbable. So it failed to set the password I wanted, set a corrupted password instead and now I have to reset my phone completely to do a local encrypted backup.

    I wonder why they didn’t just provide an option to delete all encrypted backups and turn off the option. I don’t want to get access to any of the previous backups, only to turn the option off so I can try re-entering an un-corrupted password.

  11. DPT says:

    The solution at the very top did not work for me. My iPhone6 was a company-issued unit and it had all that encryption/security mambo-jumbo nonsense which probably interfered with the backup function on itunes.

    What worked for me was signing out of the iPhone completely, then RESET ALL SETTINGS on your iPhone, then signed in again then connect to itunes.

    Then I select backup to this computer. Immediately the wheel starts spinning and backup commenced immediately without asking me any pw.

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