Tethered Jailbreak vs Untethered Jailbreak
Along with the release of the newer iOS updates and new versions of redsn0w, came the return of the so called “tethered jailbreak” which has caused some confusion as to it’s definition. I’ll explain what a tethered jailbreak is versus an untethered jailbreak, and why one is better than the other. If you want the short answer: an untethered jailbreak is always better.
A quick note: a tethered or untethered jailbreak has nothing to do with internet tethering, which is the process of using your iPhone as a cellular modem.
Tethered jailbreaks are frustrating because they require a computer connection to boot a jailbroken iOS device. The concept of a tethered jailbreak has been around a long time, but essentially it means this: every time your iPhone or iPod touch reboots or the battery dies, you have to connect (tether) your iOS device back to your computer so that the hardware can boot with the aid of the jailbreak application.
Using and Booting a Tethered Jailbreak
In the most recent example with redsn0w and iOS 4.2.1, you have to do the following if the jailbroken iOS device is rebooted:
- Connect the iOS hardware (iPod, iPad, iPhone) to your computer
- Relaunch the same redsn0w application you used to jailbreak the device
- Select the “Just boot tethered right now” option (shown in the screenshot above).
- The jailbroken hardware will now boot with the aid of redsn0w
After the device has been booted you can then disconnect it from your computer and use it as usual, just remember that if the battery dies or you reboot the iPhone/iPod you will need to connect it again. These tethered jailbreaks work with both Mac OS X and Windows.
An untethered jailbreak is the preferred jailbreak because it requires no connection to your computer except for the initial jailbreaking process. You can reboot your iPhone or iPod touch as much as you want without having to tether it to your computer to boot. If the battery dies on a device that has an untethered jailbreak, it’s no big deal you just charge it again and it will boot as usual. This is how most of the modern jailbreaks work for iOS 4.1 and prior, like greenpois0n, PwnageTool, limera1n, and sn0wbreeze.
Using and Booting an Untethered Jailbreak
There is nothing to it. Boot your iOS hardware as usual, an untethered jailbroken device behaves like any other iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you can reboot at will trouble-free.
For iOS 5.0.1 the untethered jailbreak is currently not available to the public, but the iPhone Dev Team is actively working on untethered solutions for other iOS hardware.
Tethered vs Untethered Jailbreaks
Due to the hassle of tethering (connecting) your iOS hardware to a computer on each boot, an untethered jailbreak is obviously preferential.
If you are patient, I would always recommend waiting for an untethered jailbreak to become available for your hardware. If you are determined to proceed on the cutting edge of jailbreaking, learn how to jailbreak iOS 5.0.1 with redsn0w, which is now untethered but took a while to be released. For future reference, most people are better served by waiting for an untethered jailbreak to be released.