Apple iPhone & Windows USB Connection – A Device Attached To The System Is Not Functioning Error Fix

Recently, a friend replaced her aged iPhone 7 (which she only bought last year) with a newer model from the X series (XR), and decided to start afresh with her shiny new phone. Instead of copying all the images and videos to the new device, she decided to simply create a backup of the entire DCIM folder on her Windows PC. And that’s the exact moment when our agony started…

iPhone 7 8 X XR XS 11 Copying Photo/Video Files To PC Fix – How To Fix USB Device Connection Errors and Image/Video File Transfers From iPhone To Windows Computer?

Apple iPhone & Windows USB Connection Artwork

In the beginning, first couple of 1xxAPPLE folders were copied without problems (e.g. 100APPLE ~ 108APPLE). However, that’s where the issue started to appear.

File Transfer From iPhone To PC Computer - Copying DCIM Images & Video Folders To PC Over USB

Some files and folders were copying just fine – but others were not!

Sometimes, the error occurred right at the start of the copying procedure, sometimes it happened in the middle, and Windows was just hanging there for a while, until finally reporting that the connected USB device is not functioning. Or, when I was finally loosing my patience and manually disconnecting phone’s USB cable, messages reported in those cases were expectedly different: the device is not available or the device is disconnected. Couple of times, after several abrupt USB cable connect/disconnect cycles, iPhone no longer started showing prompt to allow access to media files! Phone was no longer visible (mounted) as a storage device under Windows PC!

Apple iPhone & Windows 10 USB Connection - A device attached to the system is not functioning Error

Apple iPhone & Windows 10 USB Connection – A device attached to the system is not functioning error

Anyway, what I tried at first was to switch to a different PC computer. Three different PCs in total were changed running Windows 7, Window 8 and Windows 10, respectively. All 3 of them manifested same problem, which appeared to be erratic, as each time, copy process was stuck at a different image or video file.

  • I tested iPhone connected to three different PCs (Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10). Switching computers apparently didn’t help fixing the problem.
  • I switched to a brand new original iPhone USB cable. No luck, either.
  • I rebooted PC couple of times. This absolutely didn’t have any positive effect on the issue at matter.
  • I rebooted iPhone. In some cases, this actually helped both for above mentioned cases when iPhone wasn’t showing allow access prompts when connected via USB cable and when copying some of the problematic folders (but not always)!

It didn’t take long before I figured that the problem was within the phone itself, and not PCs nor cables. Finally, I had to seek help on the web, and someone suggested to modify a certain option in the Settings menu, and see if it will make a difference. And it did!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Go to iPhone Settings (gearbox-like icon app)
  2. Go to Photos section in the menu
  3. Scroll all the way down to TRANSFER TO MAC OR PC section and select option named Keep Originals.
  4. You might need to reboot and reconnect your iPhone to the PC once again, to make sure it finally works with the new setting applied.
Apple iPhone Settings - Photos - Keep Originals Option

Apple iPhone Settings – Photos – Keep Originals Option

DONE!

All files were transferred to the computer in one go! USB transfer was no longer timing-out and Windows was no longer hanging on specific files and folders. Hooray!

What happened here? Is there an explanation for this problem?

Apparently, when transfer files mode is set to Automatic mode (factory default), iPhone will (or should, anyway) try to convert high-efficiency media files (e.g. HEIC images) into more common, but older and less efficient, JPEG standard, that you can easily view on your PC or any other media device out there. HEIC is still not widely accepted and common. However, this apparently doesn’t work well (or at all) when using common USB connection and Windows Explorer file manager on your PC. Maybe it works fine with iTunes installed, but I haven’t tried that yet.

iPhone HEIC Image Files

iPhone HEIC Image Files are currently not supported under Windows OS

Problem you’ll most likely face after copying iPhone’s HEIC files this way is that you’ll need to install additional decoder or photo viewer app that can display those images on a standard PC. Otherwise, you’ll see a blank white generic icon and no file association, as you can see in the above screenshot.

In any case, problem solved!

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