Welcome to our iOS updating guide, in which we explain how to download and install the latest version of iOS - the software that runs on your iPhone and iPad.

Apple's newest version of the iPhone and iPad software - iOS 11 - is arriving on 19 September 2017.

In this article we take you through how to download, install and run the latest version of iOS on your iPhone and iPad, as well as potential problems you may encounter, and whether you should let Apple update your iPhone or iPad for you overnight.

And a warning: We recommend that you prepare your iPhone before you install the update - follow the advice in the section below.

How to install iOS 11

Installing iOS 11 is a simple process but there are a few things you should do first outlined below - and we recommend that you do if you want to minimise the chance that you might lose data or have problems with your iPhone following the update. However if you are ever-so-eager to get your hands on iOS 11 now then here is how to go about it.

When Apple sets iOS 11 live you should get a notification informing you that a new version of iOS is available for you to download. Note: It is possible that a friend might see an alert for the update before you do!

  1. Go to Settings > General > Software Update
  2. Force iOS to check for new updates
  3. iOS will present you with details about the new update, including the amount of storage space required (you may need to clear some space before downloading)
  4. Confirm you wish to upgrade
  5. Tap Download - your device may or may not have downloaded the install file automatically.
  6. Your device will download the update in the background. Once the download has finished you will receive a notification saying an update is available for your device.
  7. Tap Details - this will take you to Settings > General > Software Update.
  8. Tap Install Now - the iPhone or iPad will now start to install the iOS update. It may take a while.
  9. Alternatively, you can choose to leave the installation for later. Settings will display a notification badge until you have installed the update.

How to prepair your iPhone or iPad for iOS 11

As you can see from the steps above, it's very easy to update the iPhone or iPad operating system, but before you do so we recommend that you take some steps to protect your data before you click yes on that update alert.

1) Back up your data

Use iCloud or iTunes to back up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. This will save the day if you find that messages or photos disappear from your iPhone after the update.

Beware: the backup will include purchased music, TV shows, apps, and books; photos and video in the Camera Roll; and device settings, but it won't include anything you synced from your computer. To re-sync that stuff you'll need to sync with iTunes. For that reason we recommend backing up to your computer as well as iCloud.

2) Save a copy of the old version of iOS

As a general principle this is a sensible idea - you may change your mind and decide you want to downgrade from iOS 11 to iOS 10, and this will be easier if you make sure you've got a copy of the latest version of iOS 10 compatible with your device. Beware though that at some point Apple will stop "signing" older versions of iOS so it will become impossible to downgrade.

If you have a copy on your hard drive you will find it by following this path: Library/iTunes and then select the Software Updates folder for your device. (Access the Library folder in your user folder by holding down the Option/Alt key in Finder and selecting Go > Library.)

Your Mac may have deleted this file, however. If so, launch your web browser and search for download ipsw. You'll find a number of sites offering links to the file you need. Make sure you get the right one for the device you use.

3) Make room on your device

If you have limited space on your phone you may not be able to perform the update - it's a fairly hefty download. To get ready, you can remove content you no longer need, which is a good idea in any case. See our guide to making room on your iPhone or iPad. Alternatively, you can update iOS via iTunes and save yourself the trouble.

4) Plug in your iPhone or iPad

Make sure you plug your device into a power source. Running out of battery mid-download can foul up the update.

5) Make sure you're connected to Wi-Fi

Be sure that you're downloading over Wi-Fi and not via 3G or 4G, or you may end up using up all your data for the month. Read our guide: how to stop running out of cellular data.

Fixes for common update problems

Updating iOS is generally easy, but there are lots of small things that can potentially go wrong. Read next: iOS 11 troubleshooting

iOS 11 isn't available

When Apple first lauches a new version of iOS it can take a while for the update to become available. Some times your friend might get an alert before you do. Or it might be that your iPhone isn't capable of running the software, in which case you won't see an alert at all.

To run iOS 11 you'll need one of the following:

iPhone X iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2017) iPad 4th gen
iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2015) iPad mini 4
iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus iPad Pro 10.5-inch iPad mini 3
iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus iPad Pro 9.7-inch iPad mini 2
iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus iPad Air 2 iPod Touch 6th gen
iPhone SE iPad Air  
iPhone 5s iPad 5th Generation  

Plus any newer iOS devices.

If you have an iPhone 5C, and iPhone 5 or anything older than that you will be out of luck! iOS 11 will not run on your iPhone. Find out more here: Can my iPad or iPhone run iOS 11?

iOS 11 update is taking too long

We had a complete nightmare installing iOS 7 in 2013 - it took us all night. We had hoped things might go a bit smoother in 2014 with the launch of iOS 8. But unfortunately not. Again, many faced installation dramas because Apple's servers seemed unable to cope with the sheer number of people trying to access them to get the download. So if this was your experience it's not a huge surprise, and you shouldn't feel like you're alone.

One thing is for sure: if you choose to update as soon as a new version of iOS launches you're probably in for a long wait because the first few hours of an update are always the busiest time on Apple's servers.

Whenever a new iteration of iOS comes out, we recommend giving it a few days just to let the clamour die down and any bugs get ironed out before you put it on your device.

If you are installing the update few months after the launch there should be no problems with busy servers or long delays. In that case, if you are having issues with the download time, it may be that your WiFi network isn't performing. Read this: How to fix problems with WiFi on iPhone or iPad.

Not enough space on iPhone or iPad

All that presumes you had enough space on your iPhone to start with. A common problem when updating your version of iOS is to find that there isn't room on your device for the install file. One solution is to delete lots of files from your iPhone and make room, then put them back afterwards. Another option is to update iOS via iTunes on your Mac.

If you don't need to free up a lot of space you may be happy to delete a few images from your Camera Roll or some of your music. You might find it useful to read our guide to saving space on your iPhone here.

We explain this relatively painless process in a separate article: How to update iOS using iTunes on your Mac.

Alarm doesn't work after update

Apple is keen for more users to install incremental iOS updates that provide fixes and small improvements. One way it encourages this is by offering the chance to install them for you overnight while you're sleeping. If you're prompted to update your iPhone while you're using it, Apple now lets you choose 'Later,' which will then specify a time period during which it will update automatically for you if you've got your iPhone plugged in to a power source, which most people do overnight anyway.

When Apple prompted Macworld's own Ashleigh Macro to update to iOS 9.1 and offered that 'Later' option, she decided to make the most of the convenient new feature. She expected to wake up in the morning as usual to an updated iPhone. And indeed she did, but she woke up more than an hour after her alarm was scheduled to go off. The update had worked brilliantly, but her alarm had been deactivated, causing her to be late for work.

She's not the only one. Users have taken to social media and forums to express their annoyance with the issue, which we consider to be a bug, and many have been late for important meetings and school.

Therefore, we'd only recommend choosing the later option if you don't have to wake up at a particular time in the morning, or if you can set another alarm on a different device!

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