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"Bricking" is a term widely used in the technology industry to describe the condition of a device in which it no longer works and is therefore unusable - it is then practically just a brick.
The term is used for a variety of electronic devices, including smartphones, game consoles, routers, and other electronic devices. In this article I would like to explain what a "bricked device" is, how it happens, how to prevent it and what to do if it does happen.
What is bricking?
Bricking is a term used to describe the state of a device where it permanently stops working, making it unusable.
The term "bricked" is often used when a device's firmware or operating system has become corrupted, causing the device to stop responding to input or start properly.
In other words, a bricked device is like a brick - and just as useful as a brick. You can use it to keep doors open or to weigh down letters.
The causes of bricking in mobile devices can be either physical or software related. Damage to the device's hardware can cause bricking, but far more often it's the result of software issues.
Modifying, hacking, jailbreaking, or rooting a device carries the risk of making the device inoperable by altering important system files.
But even updating the firmware or the operating system can lead to a bricked device if an error occurs during the update. It is not for nothing that the iPhone always wants to have 50% battery level before it allows an update of iOS.
There are a few measures to prevent bricking on smartphones, tablets or laptops or, if the worst comes to the worst, to at least minimize the problems afterwards.
First, it is important to always back up important data before making any changes to the device's firmware or operating system. The Time Machine backup is ideal for Macs and backups can be created in iCloud for iPhones and iPads.
This ensures that important data is not lost when the device is bricked.
Also, it is important to follow proper procedure when updating firmware or operating system. This includes downloading the update from a reliable source if you have a choice here.
In addition, the device should have a sufficiently high battery level or ideally be connected to the power supply.
You can also save yourself problems if you wait a week or two before updating to see whether other users might have massive problems with the update and the manufacturer has to withdraw or revise it. This has also happened to Apple.
If a device is indeed bricked, it may not be recoverable. How good or bad the odds are depends a lot on the device.
From my experience, I would estimate that bricked iPhones are significantly more common than bricked MacBooks. But that can also be a quirky perception, because probably a lot more people in my orbit have iPhones than MacBooks.
Firmware or operating system reinstallation
In some cases, bricking can be fixed by simply reinstalling the firmware or operating system. In other cases, the device may need to be repaired or replaced. If the device is still under warranty, it may be covered by the manufacturer and will be repaired or replaced free of charge.
With Macs and iPhones, you may be able to use a working Mac to reload the firmware on the bricked device. Apple has already created a good tool for this with the recovery partition on the Mac, with which Mac users can install a new operating system themselves.
Questions or further information?
Do you have any questions or tips on the subject? Then please leave a comment here. I'm happy to add to or revise the article, because I personally haven't had an iPhone, iPad or Mac that was actually bricked.
The worst thing that had happened to me so far was the iPhone boot loop, which my iPhone 7 Plus got stuck in. Only a repair by Apple actually helped here.
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.