A Solution for iPhone Photo Saving Problems

One of the few nagging problems I've experienced with my iPhone is a photo saving problem. This has been described in several different ways by other iPhone users out on the Internet:

This problem started happening to me a couple of weeks ago when I was still running iPhone Firmware 1.0. I had hoped that the 2.0 Firmware Update would solve this problem, but it didn't. At that point I had to start doing serious research, otherwise my camera would have been useless to me.

Apparently there is some recurring issue with saving photos taken with the internal iPhone camera once more than 1023 photos have been saved. In my case, the problem started happening when the LastFileGroupNumber was at 1043. It is not clear to me whether all iPhones have this problem, if all first-generation iPhones have it, or if this is only affecting users of the first-generation iPhone under certain circumstances.

The best solution to this problem that I've found so far was first discussed in Topic : Camera will not save pictures to phone after snapping photo, an Apple support discussion. About a quarter of the way into the thread, a contributor named "JKeenan" said the following:

I have a third option.. I saw this message, and cringed at option #2.. I didn't want to lose contact photos, calendar events, sms messages, notes, safari bookmarks, etc, etc. So, I went in and found (on my windows laptop) where iTunes was storing the backup files: C:\Documents and Settings\jkeegan\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup That dir had two directories beneath it, with long hash filenames.. One seemed to be for an earlier version of the software, and the other for the latter. I synced my iPhone with iTunes, and saw the newer of those two directories get updated slightly, so it seems they're storing one backup per version. I copied the directory (maintaining file permissions and dates etc) into another directory off {to} the side, to use as a backup if I had to. Then I went into that newer backup dir and just started looking through these files for anything that looked like it had to do with photos.. One file, which for me was named f1b43d3b3ecf259a3626c13a8b0cebd8ba513117.mdbackup, seemed to talk about image numbers for photos.. The broken version of this file looked roughly like: {snip: see the original source for the complete file contents} So, I disconnected my iPhone from the dock, and then tried deleting that file from the actual Backup directory that iTunes looks at.. I reset the iPhone according to option #2 (Settings->General->Reset->Erase All Content and Settings). When I connected it to the dock, it asked which backup I wanted to use, and I said the most recent. It updated everything, and now the camera works (I had no photos on the phone - the initial problem coincided with me deleting all photos on the iPhone after extracting them). I didn't lose any contact photo images, sms messages, etc - nothing. To find that file for you, you can try doing a "grep Info.plist *" in the backup directory with the most recent modification time after doing a sync to back up. (I'd make a backup of the entire Backup directory before trying what I did). I hope Apple fixes this, along with the other documented camera problems.. but at least here's a workaround that doesn't result in you losing everything.

I was able to repeat this process by following the instructions on my MacBook Pro and first generation iPhone with updated firmware. The result was that the photo saving process started working properly again.

I'd like to point out that reseting the iPhone by chosing Setting->General->Reset->Erase All Content and Settings took over an hour by itself, so you should set aside at 90 minutes to 2 hours for the entire process.

Important Notes: The techniques discussed in this article are performed on your iPhone at your own risk. Operation Gadget cannot be responsible for any damage that might be done to the contents or functionality of your iPhone by following these instructions.

Operation Gadget has not evaluated whether performing these actions voids any warranty currently in force on your hardware. If this is a consideration for you, we recommend contacting Apple, Inc. for troubleshooting and / or warranty service.