Solved iPad freezing issue

Problem solved

UPDATE (5/8/2012): Apple has finally fixed this bug in the latest version of iOS (5.1.1). If you are seeing any of these symptoms, you may want to either follow the steps below or do a restore before installing the latest iOS update. Just to make sure that your device is clean.

Earlier I reported that I was having some serious issues with my iPad as well as my iPhone freezing for a short period of time after being woken up (power button or pressing Home button).

It appears that a solution has been found. Or at least a “fix”.

Doing a search for “Unable to Purchase” in Google, I was able to find a thread in Apple’s support forums that talked about this issue. Actually, the thread never mentioned any freezing issues, but it did mention grey icons as well as this “Unable to Purchase” dialog box popping up.

The full symptoms to this problem are:

  • Device freezes soon after being awoken
  • Some app icons would grey (with space for progress bar and title changed to “Waiting”), then the icon image would appear followed by the icons being fully restored one by one in quick succession (screen shot #1)
  • After installing a Universal app from a different device or iTunes, I would be prompted for my AppleID password (screen shot #2)
Screen shot #1

Screen shot #1

Screen Shot #2

Screen Shot #2

These symptoms started up around January of 2012.

The solution or fix seems to be to remove a file “downloads.28.sqlitedb” from a folder on the device. There is an app called iExplorer (formally iPhone Explorer) that allows you to see your devices folder structure without having to Jailbreak the device.

Locate the folder “Media”, open it and locate the folder “Downloads” and open it. Inside the folder “Downloads” you will see several folders with what appears to be random numbers (I had well over 50) as well as a file called “downloads.28.sqlitedb”.

If you Jailbroke your device like I have for my iPhone. I found a package called iFile ($4.00) that allowed me to dig into my iPhone’s folders.

iFile package found in Cydia (Jailbreaking)

iFile package found in Cydia (Jailbreaking)

The above screen shot from “iFile” shows the “…/Media/Downloads” folder after deleting the many “numbered” folders as well as the downloads.28.sqlitedb” file. The sqlitedb file was recreated and is now much smaller than the nearly 780KB file it was.

I deleted all the folders in the “Downloads” folder along with the “downloads.28.sqlitedb” file. I turned off my device, then restarted it.

It’s been over 12 hours now since I deleted the sqlitedb file and I haven’t seen any freezing when waking my iPhone or iPad. I also have not seen any icons greying out.

I installed a couple of Universal apps and was not asked for my AppleID password and the apps appears on both devices.

So it appears that this sqlitedb file must have been corrupted. Folks in the forum feel that this corruption occurred when attempting to install an app and something happens to stop the download from successfully downloading. At that point, they feel that they started seeing the “Unable to Purchase” dialog.

Unable to Purchase pop up

Unable to Purchase pop up

I don’t know what caused this corruption, but I have had times when an App Store purchase started downloading but didn’t finish or I had to reboot the device due to the download freezing. (or at least appearing to freeze)

If you are having any of the above symptoms, check out the forum and see if your symptoms match what they were seeing. Then try the iExplorer solution/fix. I think you will find that it works for you too.

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  1. I’m curious: what pointed you to that solution? I found that backing up and restoring from that backup solved the problem for me, but if it happens again I’ll try this.

    • I found the solution in Apple’s support community forums. The link to the thread is in the post near the top.

      Backing up and restoring your device will absolutely work. The problem is if you have a 32GB or 64GB device that is nearly full, it will take nearly a day to do that restore.

      The reason for doing the above solution is to save you tons of time. I mean all you have to do is delete a database file and remove the folders in the Downloads folder then reboot your device. Done. Much easier than doing a full factory restore

    • Oh, I guess I should have said what let me to the support forums. I tried a Google search for some of the specific text I was getting in those dialog boxes. I can’t remember if Google found the thread for me, or if I just went directly to Apple’s support forums and did the search.

      I know the thread I linked to isn’t the first thread I looked at, but when I did find it, I knew it was the correct thread to read.

    • No problem! It’s why I wrote it up in the first place. After all the headache’s I went through trying to track down a solution or workaround, I wanted to make sure others were able to find the solution/workaround.

      I probably should write up better instructions so that it’s as easy as possible to follow.

  2. This absolutely worked for me as well. I did an iCloud restore to a new device and I had an app I forgot about that I downloaded from another account in my household. iCloud attempted to redownload it, which failed because the license wasn’t tied to my login, it was tied to a family members. End result is that I was stuck with a grey icon with no text at all. I deleted the application manually, but that did not get rid of it. Irronically, I tried to buy the app to fix this and tried downloading it again from the app store, but the purchase button was greyed out and said installing… On top of that, I even tried installing it from Installous thinking it might just overwrite it and get it start working, and I’d sort out the license later, but that didn’t work either. This solution did though, all I had to do was delete that “downloads.28.sqlitedb” file and reboot, and then I was able to go back to the app store and download it from there, where I was even able to re-use that family member’s account to get it. Weird that it glitches this bad, you’d think Apple would spend less time worrying about jailbreakers and more time ACTUALLY fixing bugs like this, instead of the “bugs” that allow for people to use their own device to it’s true potential. If I didn’t jailbreak my device, I’d have been forced into a day long restore that probably would have ended the exact same way. Way to go jailbreaking.

    • Actually, Apple has fixed the bug in iOS 5.1.1.

      As for only being able to delete the ‘downloads.28.sqlitedb’ file if jailbroken… This can be accomplished with the Mac/Windows application iExplorer. It’s a free app that lets you dig into the file system of an iDevice.

      I have recently restored my iPhone back to not being jailbroken and after attempting to jailbreak with the latest Absinthe program and it failing miserably, I decided that Jailbreaking just isn’t worth it.

      Other than that. I’m glad that you found the work-around fix for this annoying bug and your back up and running smoothly again.

  3. Pingback: Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? « Dave Metzener's Weblog

  4. No problem! I posted the article to hopefully make it easier to find the answer to that very annoying problem. It took me almost a week of searching through Apple’s support forums to find the answer there. I know there are a couple of other sites describing the solution. I just wanted to add another to help out folks like myself looking for a solution.

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