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Bookmarks sync bug in iOS 6

Help, my bookmarks are stuck!

The Apple Maps in iOS 6 is nothing. Give them enough time, and they will eventually catch up with reality (and maybe with Google at some point). I do have a rather serious issue with iCloud bookmarks sync, though. Since the release on 19th September, my Safari bookmarks have doubled first (breeding like rabbits!), then stopped syncing. Moreover, I am unable to delete them or add any new bookmarks (the Delete button accepts the tap, but then does exactly nothing). Switching iCloud sync for Safari on and off in Settings does nothing either. iCloud tabs keep working even though Safari has been disabled in iCloud options!

As a technical person I would not just sit and wait until someone else finds a solution: I've started digging myself. First thing I've checked was the Diagnostic Logs (Settings -> General -> About -> Diagnostic & Usage -> Diagnostic & Usage Data).

The culprit is a small lesser daemon

Bingo! This is what I've found:

It seems that a process called webbookmarksd is killed by the kernel every few minutes with SIGSEGV. I bet this is eating a lot of battery, because CPU is wasting its time trying to restart the daemon every time it fails (and then wasting even more battery writing the crashlogs).

The next logical step was visiting Apple Support website, specifically the FAQ about problems with bookmarks (TS4001). Unfortunately, after reading through the FAQ and doing all the steps mentioned there - I'm still stuck with the problem.

What now?

For the time being I have filed a bug report on Apple Developer website and wait for Apple response or a working untethered jailbreak for iOS 6, whichever comes first.

You can read more about the issue on Apple Community Support forum: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4313906?start=0&tstart=0

Solution already exists, no jailbreaking required

As I have initially have guessed, the issue was caused by a broken bookmarks file. Other users who have encountered that problem were able to resolve it with the procedure in this thread: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4333351?start=15&tstart=0.

I have followed the procedure from the thread and it worked - my iPad 2 works just like new, bookmarks are syncing fine and they are no longer stuck:

  1. Disabled iCloud backup and did a standard backup to iTunes
  2. Edited the backup with iBackupBot, replaced the broken bookmarks.db with one from this address: dropbox link
  3. Restored the edited backup with iBackupBot
  4. iPad did not reboot and it was stuck at recovery screen
  5. I put the device into recovery mode again, by holding the power and home buttons. As soon as Apple logo appeared, I released only the power button.
  6. "Connect to iTunes" logo appeared
  7. I did a restore in iTunes now, usingthe same edited backup - it seems iBackupBot did something wrong.
  8. iPad has restored successfully, duplicate bookmarks are gone, no more crashing webbookmarksd
  9. Re-enabled iCloud backup and bookmarks sync

Remember, by following this procedure, you do so at your own risk!

PS. I did the iOS 6 update at the same time on both my iPad 2 and iPhone 3GS, which had iCloud sync working perfectly fine in iOS 5. iPhone 3GS was completely unaffected by this issue, even though the same set of bookmarks was used by both devices.

Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Hey, great post, maybe this could help me cause I have almost the same problem right now on my iphone 4 since I updated from iOS5 to iOS6.1.2. But one question: Can I use this “bookmark.db” file which can be downloaded through this dropbox link also on my iphone 4? I mean, I don’t know from which device this file is originally coming, an ipad, iphone 5 or whatever. Or does this not matter, cause iOS6 is the same on all devices? And by the way, I now have iOS6.1.2, not iOS6, will it work with that newer version of iOS, too?

    • Hi Juergen,
      Sorry to hear you’re struck with the same issue. As far as I can remember, the original file came from iPhone 4S, and I have used it to fix an iPad 2, which would suggest that it doesn’t matter which device the file came from. I would give the procedure in the post a try. You can always make a copy of the Backup files before editing them with iBackupBot.

      I also have another idea, which in theory should work:
      – make a full local backup in iTunes – this is the “Broken” backup
      – go to DFU mode, restore iOS 6.1.2 using iTunes, but don’t restore either local or icloud backup
      – make a new full local backup in iTunes – this is the “Clean” backup
      – use iBackupBot to copy the bookmark.db from the “Clean” backup
      – use iBackupBot to copy the bookmark.db into the “Broken” backup
      – restore the edited backup (follow the procedure in the post)

      Please mind I haven’t tested this method, it’s just theory.

      • Hi Lukas, thanks for your answer! Your suggestion with the DFU mode might be a good option. I did some research about DFU mode because I knew nothing about it before, but one thing I couldn’t find out clearly till now, so may I ask you: If I restore iOS in DFU mode, will it delete all my data from the iphone?
        Because actually I had a similar idea like yours, but using “regular restore” in iTunes (or through the iphone settings) to get a fresh iOS and a fresh bookmarks.db file which I can extract then, but then I have to use iCloud to restore my 25 GB of data afterwards, which probably will last 10 hours or so. So if it’s like that I won’t loose my data if I use DFU mode as you suggested, that would be better.
        By the way, this problem is really nerving a lot, guess it was the same for you when you had it.

        • Hi Juergen,

          Your idea is very good, to avoid iCloud restore you can do a local iTunes backup (simply connect your device to iTunes, in iTunes go to Information tab and change “iCloud” to “local” backup. Provided you have all the apps and music on your computer, it should allow you to restore locally, without the need to download all the stuff from iCloud.

          Both types of restore unfortunately remove all the data from device. iTunes restore will however attempt to restore a backup immediately, while DFU will allow you to configure the device as brand new.

          • Ok, thanks again for your advice, now I have some options to choose from. I’ll write you again what I did when I solved the problem (which is probably also interesting for people having the same problem and reading this in future).

          • Hi Lukas,
            finally I solved my problem through the replacement of the bookmark.db file as you did. Now everything seems to be fine again, no double bookmark folders, I can delete and create new bookmarks again, and iCloud-Sync works also fine.
            I did everything like you using iBackupBot, everything works without problem. Finally I decided not to take the bookmark-file within the dropbox link, but rather creating my own one, for me this seems a bit more safer, and for sure I wanted to solve the problem as complete as possible (although I think that using the bookmark file within the dropbox folder would have been ok, too, but I wanted to be as safe as possible, although this was a lot of more work of course).
            First creating a new installation of iOS6.1.2, I restored my iphone using normal iTunes restore, then extracting the fresh bookmark.db file, and then doing a new restore loading my iCloud Backup files (which was very unproblematic cause you can use the iphone already while it is downloading from icloud, cool thing, and the next morning, everything was finished), then replacing the old bookmark.db with the fresh one, and voilà, that’s it. In detail, I used your steps.
            So thank you very very much again for this post here, you saved my life!!! … or my iphone, which is actually my life 🙂

          • You’re welcome! I’m glad you’ve dealt with the bookmarks issue.

  2. Shame on you apple supposed to fix these shit and now end user are doing your work. Time to wake up.

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