UPDATE: This solution appears to work for Windows 7 as well. As the problem is likely in the Apple software, the solution should work across Windows operating systems.Last year for my mom's birthday, we bought her an iPad 2. When iOS 5 came out, she took advantage of the cool wireless sync feature to iTunes running on her Windows XP machine. It worked great for a few months, but then suddenly her iPad stopped showing up in the sync list unless it was physically plugged into her computer. On the iPad, it said it couldn't see her computer.
After tweaking some settings and doing a few reboots, I managed to get her computer to start wireless sync'ing again. I had an idea about what it was, but I wasn't sure.
Then, after a few weeks, I hear from her that it has started again. So I did a little more searching, and after combining multiple people's error reports and extracting the common thing that seemed to fix them all, I think I came up with the fix. It's a simple fix, and she's able to do it herself whenever the iPad loses connectivity. For the last few weeks, every time the iPad stops talking to her computer, she's able to recover immediately. So I think we've figured it out.
The fix? Restart the Apple Mobile Device service. Here's how:
- Quit iTunes.
- Right-click on "My Computer" and go to "Manage".
- Alternatively (e.g., on Windows 7), open up your "Control Panel". Then click to see "All Items." Then look for "Administrative Tools." You should find "Services" in there. That's the ultimate destination we're heading to.
- Alternatively, click on "Start" and then "Run" and type "services.msc" (without the quotes) and hit enter.
- Click on "Services and Applications" inside the "Computer Management" console.
- Double-click on the "Services" that shows up.
- Find the "Apple Mobile Device" service in the list and select it by clicking on it.
- Click the link that says "Restart the service".
- Alternatively, you can right-click on the service and select "Restart."
- Alternatively, you can double-click on the service and then click the "Stop" button and then the "Start" button.
- Close the management console.
This problem appears to be caused by some sort of race condition dealing with the Apple Mobile Device and the network. As the computer starts, the order in which things start is non-deterministic. Due to some random delays, the network may not come up quick enough. Consequently, the Apple Mobile Device gets confused by the network being in this state. Re-starting it manually later when the network is definitely up and running seems to fix this problem every time.