iPhone sync bug report

Remember the iPhone sync issue I was having? Which had me switching back to my 6S and planning to sell the XR? Well, it started happening on the 6S too, a couple weeks ago, so I’m glad I never managed to sell the XR. (That and it would have been a nightmare).

Anyway both of my phones are now stuck in this no-sync state, so here’s the Apple Feedback (née Radar) I submitted last night. Maybe someone else will enjoy reading it, or maybe it’ll just get a bunch of search hits from other people with the problem. (I have a few acquaintences at Apple who are already looking at it, at least.)

After a few days of an iPhone syncing fine with iTunes, it will reach a state where immediately after the backup stage finishes, a message will pop up with “The iPhone (name) cannot be synced. There are too many files open currently.” After this point, any repeated attempts to synchronize the phone will result in my entire library being removed from the iPhone, and possibly iTunes insisting that the phone is in recovery and needs to be factory reset.

Performing the factory reset will make the first library sync succeed but subsequent ones will fail.

This happens approximately once a week, and occurs on both my iPhone XR and iPhone 6S. It has not yet occurred on my iPad Pro (10.5").

Completely deleting and rebuilding my iTunes library has no effect. I have also tried doing a full factory reset of the iPhone and not even restoring my backup, and that doesn’t help either. Additionally I have tried switching to a new user account, and this also exhibits the same problem.

Other applications (such as Photos and Image Capture) can continue to work with the respective data on the phone; only iTunes seems to be affected by this.

Per the oodles of threads I’ve found online about this issue (dating back years) I have tried the following mitigation steps; none of them have any effect:

  • Turning on or off home sharing
  • Turning on or off library sharing
  • Turning on or off WiFi sync
  • Turning on or off “Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected”
  • Running “killall usbmuxd” or “sudo killall usbmuxd” from the command line
  • Rebooting the computer and/or iPhone (in all three possible combinations)
  • Sacrificing a chicken to the gods
  • Holding my breath and counting backwards from 100 while drinking water from the opposite rim of the glass
  • Using a different Lightning cable
  • Waiting for the next iOS, macOS, or iTunes update to see if that fixes it this time, you never know

Oh, and I also have tried increasing my per-process open file limit; it’s currently at 524288 which is significantly more than the total number of files in my iTunes library, so I’m pretty sure that should be enough.

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