Daily Tip: How to update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to iOS 5

iOS 5 for iPhone and iPad walkthrough

New to these giant software releases and wondering how to upgrade your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to iOS 5? Luckily iTunes makes the process of upgrading painless. The best part is once you're on iOS 5 you can start to receive OTA updates and you'll never have to fuss with cables and computers again.

For now though, where you're ready to update to iOS 5, here's what you need to do:

  1. Plug your current iPhone into your computer and open iTunes. Your phone should start to sync and backup automagically.
  2. If it doesn't start to sync automatically, click the Sync button in order to back up your device. (You can alternately right click your device name in the navigation bar and click back up as well. Either way will work just fine.)
  3. iTunes may prompt you that an update is available. If it does just click update after you've backed up your device (iTunes will also prompt you to back up if you haven't already.)
  4. If it doesn't, click Check for Update under the Version section.
  5. The new software will start to download and then install. Your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will restart. Don't worry about it. Let iTunes do it's thing and update your device to iOS 5.
  6. Once it's done updating, iTunes should prompt you to do one of two things - set up as a new device or restore from a backup. Choose to restore from a backup and select the backup you just made.
  7. Once the restore is done your device will reboot. When iTunes detects it again it will start to sync back any apps and games your old iPhone had installed.

After you've done the initial manual update to iOS 5 you'll have the option to use iCloud backups in the future. Do it. It's free and it just works.

If you have any questions or have issues, check out our TiPb Forums for all the help you could ever need!

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Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Daily Tip: How to update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to iOS 5

165 Comments

It's 09:15am here in the UK and nothing. It is usually released at 6pm UK time which is 10am PST.

It's 09:15am here in the UK and nothing

Can you tell time? As I write this, 10AM Pacific is still three hours away and your post was five hours ago.

the early iTunes 10.5 update allowed me to get the iOS 5 GM on my iphone a day early. waiting for the restore to finish, but everything is looking good so far.

Hani, just wondering where you read this information? I only looked in a few places, they were 2 UK sites actually, that said 10AM pacific time.

Just saw a tweet from @MacRumors "iOS3 came out at 1pm Eastern, iOS4 came out at 1pm Eastern" obviously talking about during the afternoon of the day it was scheduled to be released

nada yet (eastern time..maryland) what is going on! i downloaded itunes 10.5 still nada :/

yeah i just clicked update right now! its says theres and update ill post a pic up as soon as i can figure out how to

It's almost 1:30 am in California and I've only been able to download iTunes update. :( was looking forward to trying out new iOS tonight on iPhone and hooking up iPad for trying it out when I wake up. Oh well...

Just checked it on my Macbook and no update yet for my iPhone 4 hopefully it will be ready by the time my iPad 2 arrives later today :) Did get my iCloud account setup.

Itunes is not delivering ios5 yet in the central time zone. I've performed the sync and still cannot get the update. What's going on?

As I read somewhere, they likely do it when Apple support staff is sitting at their desks wide awake. 10am PST seems like a likely candidate.

So looking at this and your other post below you have an iphone and have had IOS5 for less than 5 minutes and have fully tested to come to your conclusion.
what a tw*t

help!!!quick question how or do i need to update to 4.2.10 before ios 5. only 4.2.10 is showing in my itunes?

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Hiya,
Quick Question...
I'm selling my 3GS which was running 4.3.5 and getting the 4S on Friday.
I've done a backup and restore and setup as new on my 3GS and am sending it in the post tomorrow.
Question is-when i plug my new 4S into my iTunes-will i try to restore from my 4.3.5 software or rather import all my settings into ios 5?
Thanks

Itunes says update is available but when I click update it searches and says my device is up to date. What am I doing wrong here??

i would like to update from a jailbroken iphone, do i need to restore to original and update?or update straight to iOS5?

It was a royal pain to upgrade. I had to update iTunes first on my windows XP PC. Then it wouldn't sync with my iPhone without any upgrade.
Then I rebooted. OK now it will back up but it won't upgrade. Finally I reboot a second time. Now it will upgrade my iPad (original) but my iPhone fails to upgrade.
One more reboot and I can upgrade my iPhone.
What a pain!

I am new to the Jail Break thing and was wondering if theres an article outlining a break down of pros/cons for jail breaking verses not jail breaking or if someone would be so kind as to send me a detailed email explaining this to me I would greatly be Thankful. I also have some other questions if someone would be so willing to take the time. I am a recently disablked USMC Vet home from the war and purchased 3 months ago all IPhone4 for my family as a treat. Thank you I can be reached directly at MEcentricus@yahoo.com or IM on yahoo MEcentricus Thank you so much for your help.

it says its taking 6 hours to download the software update, not sync it but download it.. is that right? or supposed to be like that..?

Doesn't work for me. iPhone tries to do a "backup" that never completes from my PC version of iTunes when attempting the iOS 5.0 update and it therefore never makes it to the new version 5.0 update itself. This is even the case after I manually force it to do a backup, which seems to complete quickly when its the only thing running. But when invoked during the update function, it hangs up and my CPU max'es out, even though its a new AMD Athlon II processor (less than a year old). Not sure what's up with this... Everything else seems to work fine and the diagnostics says everything is okay.

every time i try to update my phone it keeps comeing up with a error occurred.it starts backup then about half way through a msg pops up saying error,

Will I lose all the progress in the games that are synced back (like if I am on level 23 of a game, will i have to start over from level 1?)

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Does everything really back up to iTunes and restore I haven't updated yet bc I'm Afraid nothing will restore.

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