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iPhone won't sync with iTunes

iTunes says it can't read my iPhone and wants to restore it to factory settings. I'm not sure it is backed up anywhere and I'm afraid I'll lose my apps I have purchased and my contacts, etc. Is there a way to correct the problem without this drastic measure or to minimize the dammage?

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8/22/2022 - Mon

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Soft resetting will not erase any of your data.

Even if you "restore," and wipe out the data completely, you won't lose your apps; they're associated with your iTunes account not your phone.  However, if some of your apps save data (high score, etc.), then you would lose the data if you haven't backed up the phone.

If you have your contacts stored in Outlook, or on mobileme, you can just re-sync them from Outlook or mobileme.

As akahan has already said you applications are assocaited with your iTunes account and not on the phone.. Therefore if you did a restore then all you would need is to redownload them (even if it says BUY NOW - if it isnt a free app) and appstore will tell you that you have already bought this app and therefore wont be charged,.
With regards to contacts - if you are using an exchange server account then your contacts are stored on the server and therefore after restoring the device you can just resync to the exchange account and your contacts / calendar and mail will reappaear...
If not then if you dont have a backup then you are going to have problems..
Can you access the phone at all...? Does it show the connect to iTunes picture...? What happens if you hold the home button and then power button until it restarts, does it restart normally...?
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I called Apple tech support and they basically told me the same sad story. I suppose Apple tries to keep a stranglehold on their customers to stifle competition but in the meantime it sure makes our life miserable. As soon as there is something else out there I'm jumping the Apple ship. The problem with Mobile Me is that the first thing they tell you to do is sync up with iTunes.  Yikes !!!  Is there any sanity left in the world? Maybe I can get the guy at the AT&T store to transfer my contacts back from my old RAZR.  

With all respect, blaming Apple is ridiculous.  They provide free software (iTunes) that lets you back up your phone at the press of one button...it couldn't be easier.  Why would you rant at Apple when your problem arises because you failed to ever back up your phone?   Had you backed up, taking care of this would be a two-minute process.

The only other thing I can suggest is that iTunes might have done an AUTO backup.. It is capable of doing a backup every time the phone has been plugged in..
This might have been happening without your knowledge..
Presuming you are using Windowz.. Have a look in:
C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup
Is there anything in there... If so what is the date..
Try iphone browser http://code.google.com/p/iphonebrowser/ I dont believe that it will work in restore mode but it is worth a go...
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I managed to get the iPhone back in working order. Thanks for the help.