Lumia 521: Update error - the update could not be downloaded (801881d0)

    I recently got a Lumia 521 from Newegg for a pretty good price. One of the reasons I got it was because it has Wifi calling. I got the phone but didn't see a Wifi calling setting in the options. I also tried setting up a Google account because all my contacts were in Google, but WP8 could not sync with that account because Google removed Exchange Activesync support for users who were not using EAS before Dec 31, 2013. The Windows Phone support site said that a new software update should fix that problem.


    I tried downloading the update but it kept erroring out. I also called customer support about it and they walked me through a few things, but everytime I tried updating, it kept erroring out. I tried 4 different Wifi access points (thinking it may be a problem with the old router I used) and still no luck.


    Here are some of the problems that I encountered and how I got around them:


    1. Windows phone update will not work if the time on the device is in the past. For some reason, if the phone boots up without a SIM card, the date defaults to August 31, 2012. If you try to update the software, it just errors out with a cryptic error code. Of course, it doesn't tell you to fix the time (or better yet, figure out the darn time on its own). Update the time manually, and that error goes away. I forgot the ID for this type of error. I googled the error code and got some info about windows vista and windows 7 (looks like they use the same error codes). I updated the time manually to the current time, and that error went away.


    2. After the time was corrected manually (I also tried putting in my SIM card after a bunch of retries), it'd show "checking for updates"... for a looong time then start the progress bar for a bit. Then it'd error out with error 801881d0. A google search brings up a page which says it may be because of an unstable internet connection, but I tried 4 different APs, within 3-4 feet of a strong signal and it still errored out. I wasted about 5 hours trying different things and got incredibly frustrated. I tried with and without SIM, different routers, changed the channels and AP names on the router, with and without SD card and everything else I could think of.


    This morning, a friend pointed me to this tool: FAQ - FAQ - How can I recover/reset/restore my phone software? - Nokia - UK.

    I downloaded the program, installed it on a Windows 7 machine (it took a while), hooked up my phone, and it detected it immediately and informed me that an update is available. My phone came with 1030.6409.1311.0011 and the tool upgraded it to 3056.40000.1404.0034. The tmobile support page here Software version: Nokia Lumia 521 | T-Mobile Support says that the second set of digits is 0000, but the Nokia tool (and my phone) says that it's 40000. After the update, my google account syncs fine and I have all my contacts although it's set up as IMAP and does not have push email. I also see the Wifi calling option now. It was a 1.35GB download for the update and it erased all my data.


    I searched a lot to find if there was a computer-based way of updating this phone and I did not get good first impression about WP8. I love the smooth and fluid UI, and the live tiles. They have to work on the user friendliness a bit, and solve these cryptic errors. Not giving an option to update over a computer when all else fails is not a good thing. Windows phone support site says nothing about this Nokia tool.


    I think the problem may be with the server that does the OTA update. Something is causing it to error out after a while. I'm so glad my friend sent me information about this tool; that phone would have been on its way back if not for that tool. I hope this helps someone else in the same situation.


    EDIT: I tried to find an option to download the update over cellular data, but I couldn't. The phone forces you to be on wifi to download the update and waits for wifi if you're on mobile data. I checked with customer support, and they weren't able to find where to change this either. I'm not sure if this is a T-mobile restriction or a WP8 restriction.

      All replies

      • sneakymoose

        I'm glad you got this squared away with the help of Nokia's recovery tool. What a nightmare before then!


        I have definitely downloaded OS updates OTA before, but they weren't 1.35 GB (they were roughly 500 MB at the largest, usually much smaller). What the recovery tool downloaded for you was not the same as an OTA update, though. It sounds as though it downloaded an updated copy of the device's factory image. It is a recovery tool, after all! A normal OS update will not erase your data.


        Anyway, I hope you enjoy the phone now that you've got it working correctly. I'm getting my first Lumia in a few days -- the 925. I'm currently using an HTC 8X and while it's mostly worked fine for me, it's nice to know that Nokia provides a recovery tool in case there are significant problems. As far as I know, HTC doesn't offer a comparable tool for its Windows Phone devices.

          • Thanks, sneakymoose for the info about OTA OS updates. This is my first time using Windows Phone, so I'm still learning. It does look like the 1.35gig download was fpr the whole factory image.


            After the update, it works very well. Wifi calling works great. I'm impressed with how smooth everything is on this little phone with low end specs. Looks like MS did a good job with the OS. I like the battery life. It connects much faster than my apple or android devices to my car's bluetooth and it even sends song information over Bluetooth without any problems (many android devices don't). I love the live tile concept - makes a lot more sense on the phone (I despised that interface on the desktop with no touchscreen and it put me off WP for a long time).


            It's a shame more people don't know much about WP and it's sad how people don't want to give the WP8 a chance. I like it a LOT better than the Apple interface, and WP does many things better than Android as well.


            The only problem I noticed is that it does not tell me about app updates - I have to go to the store, open each app and then it shows whether there's an update or not. On more googling, it looks like a problem that many people have with their WP8 phones.

          • Having the same problem! It boggles my mind that updating over 4G isn't an option.

            I just got this phone after having an android for many years, so I'm heavily invested in gmail and calendar. Not having the sync working is crippling my productivity haha!

            I also wish that there was an easy way to update apps, hopefully that will get fixed.


            My biggest wish is for custom backgrounds and tile colors! And to be able to turn live tiles on and off like you would on a pc.

              • sneakymoose



                You are getting the same update error code as the original poster? Did his or her solution work for you?


                I use Gmail myself and it works pretty well through the stock Mail app on my Windows Phone. Hopefully yours will work better once you are able to get the device updates working.


                In Windows Phone 8.1, you can force the Store app to check for updates immediately. And you can configure it to automatically update apps. And you can do the custom background image that shows up behind your transparent tiles on the start screen. You can't turn live tiles off, though, although most are off when you make them the smaller size.


                T-Mobile hasn't released the 8.1 version to Lumia 521 or 925 users, yet, but they should be doing so within the next month or so. If you want to get it right away you can use the Preview for Developers app (search for that).