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. from 100APPLE to 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 supported under Windows OS only with special app extension installed

Problem you’ll most likely face after copying iPhone’s HEIC image 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. One solution is the official Microsoft HEIF extension that adds support for .heic and .heif images on your device. 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!

Comments


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    30 Comments

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  2. 1. byrno

    This was exactly the issue I was having with an iPhone 6S working perfectly and the iPhone 8+ constantly disconnecting on USB on my Windows 10 PC. Many thanks for your post. As soon as I changed to keep original and reconnected, data flowed over USB with ease. Like you say, just the conversion to worry about now. Thank you very much.

  3. 2. LudwigD

    I have more than 7000 pics and movies on my iPhone X, about 30GB and way too much to use the standard (5GB) iCloud. I could pay 3 € per month for 200GB iCloud but I don’t want to do this. I never used iCloud with my phone.

    I have the same problem with the USB-transfer to my Windows 10 PC. I tried the above solution. Result : after 2 or 3 minutes, the iPhone stops responding. About 250 pics and movies were transferred (and indeed, the ‘.HEIC’ files dit not convert to .JPG while transferring to the PC). So my problem was not solved with this ‘Keep Originals’ option. However, I see a bit of progress : with the option ‘Automatic’, only 30…50 pics were transferred. With ‘Keep Originals’ : about 250 pics …

    Could there be another way to do this ? Thusfar I tried 3 different USB-cables, 3 Windows 10 PC’s without any luck.
    Tha,ks for your answer!

  4. 3. Malik Zaf

    Thanks Its really Work….:)

  5. 4. Guest

    Many thanks.
    Again a great not working and tested feature.

  6. 5. Jakub

    You saved my Saturdays evening :-)
    I have had the same issue and started to be really desperate … but then I just found your great article and holalááá :-)
    Thank you thank you thank you!

  7. 6. R

    Thanks for this post. It actually works. I was facing this issue from more than a year and thinking that Apple did it intentionally to make users pay for iCloud higher storage which actually looks true. Earlier I tried iTunes, iCloud, Backing up my phone, etc. but all in vain.

  8. 7. Beaver

    Thank you! This solved my problem which has confused me a lot. Going in circles trying to find a solution until I found this :)

  9. 8. Guest

    Excellent! I was getting so frustrating trying to transfer with the error message appearing after each first video transfer. Your post was easy to find as the wording is well matching the experienced problem. I am back in good terms with my iPhone :)

  10. 9. Chowdary YJ

    This tip helped me timely, Thanks to the Author

  11. 10. Merv

    I had the same problem and your solution resolved the it. I think the iPhone has a buffer overflow problem; I could copy a few files at a time but not a large number of photos. Also I couldn’t copy a single large video file.

  12. 11. Fry

    Thank You!!

  13. 12. Tamas

    It works for me. Tanks.
    What I recognized after I used this solution is the following:
    Earlier when I used the automatic option there were some .mov files which were transferred to the PC successfully.
    When I switched the original option on and copied the files, the file size became more than 50% less than before. When I checked the properties of the given file I saw that the data rate (speed) at the original was 19783 kb/s and at the automatic was 42585 kb/s. It could be an explanation for the size, but I do not understand that why the automatic is bigger than the original?! Does somebody have explanations on it?
    What is the importance of the data rate?

  14. 13. TehnoBlog (In reply to Tamas)

    You have to inspect both files with some media analysis tool such as MediaInfo. I guess one is high efficiency codec, and the other one more common mp4 compatible with older devices.

  15. 14. Guest

    Absolutely worked! thank you very much!

  16. 15. David

    Thanks for this!

  17. 16. panicked

    Thank you so much for the help. Fixed my issue. I thought the drive in PC was screwed up. Saved me a ton of time. Much appreciated!!!

  18. 17. Siva

    Worked well to avoid the error while copying big files but it made the files unusable in my case where they were copied over as photos showing the size as 22 GB for pic which is supposed to be 6 MB and I can not open them :(

  19. 18. TehnoBlog (In reply to Siva)

    That’s not normal. Are the files opening properly in the phone?

  20. 19. George

    Thanks a lot.
    It becomes better. After changed the iPhone X photo setting, most my iPhone X photos becomes HEIC files, which are displayable on Windows 10. And it runs more smoothly.
    However, it still gets disconnected often. When I take off the cable and reconnect, the iPhone “Internal Storage” shows empty until unplug and plug several times. And still disconnecting often.
    I run iOS 13.3.1
    TIA

  21. 20. Michael

    Thank you very much. Finally it worked out. I tried everything else but this is what made it.

  22. 21. Nik

    Thanks a lot!!!! your post helped me a lot!
    All the best for you.

  23. 22. Guest

    Thank you so much this really works. I bought 2 new cables and totally the same problem. Should have read this earlier. Life-saver!!!!!!

  24. 23. Aling Chen

    Thanks a lot. Really helpful. I was wasting 2 months to find out this simple solution. After googling that results on too much information that never work, this is the only simple and perfect answer.

  25. 24. Jaylene

    It works, but then it disconnects again. I need to keep turning my phone on and off again, or pulling my usb out and plugging it back in. =( It makes the process even longer. Any fixes?

  26. 25. TehnoBlog (In reply to Jaylene)

    Check Auto-Lock interval in Settings > Display & Brightness menu. Also, make sure your battery is full, or put phone on adapter power. Else, you’ll have to disable Low power mode under battery option. Hope this helps, otherwise I have no clue, maybe some app is doing it.

  27. 26. Guest

    Thank you!!!!!

  28. 27. AshenLK

    thanks a lot bro

  29. 28. Albert

    Hi Bro !
    You made my day dude, incredible ! Such a simple solution for such a big problem. It worked like a charm. Thanks

  30. 29. TehnoBlog (In reply to Albert)

    You’re welcome :)

  31. 30. Thomas

    Thank you very much. This was driving me nuts.

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