The final release version of iOS 4.2 (iOS 4.2.1) for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad will become available for download sometime today and we'll post it up right on the front page the minute it's ready. Before you race to download, however, there are a few steps you want to go through to get ready and to make sure you have the smoothest upgrade possible. We'll go over them after the break!

Check your device compatibility

iPhone 4, iPod touch 4, and iPad get the full update. iPhone 3GS and the 2009 Pod touch G3 (64GB and 32GB) get everything their hardware supports (not a big deal this time).

iPhone 3G and iPod touch G2 (which includes the 2009 iPod touch 8GB) get even more performance fixes, which is good considering how badly they performed under iOS 4.0!

The 2007 original iPhone 2G and iPod touch aren't compatible with iOS 4.2. Here's what Apple said:

The iOS 4.2 update is available today to download to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch by syncing the device with iTunes 10.1. iOS 4.2 is compatible with iPad, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second and third generation iPod touch (late 2009 models with 32GB or 64GB) and new iPod touch. Some features may not be available on all products. For example, Multitasking requires iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third generation iPod touch (late 2009 models with 32GB or 64GB) or later.

Make sure you're running iTunes 10.1

You need iTunes 10.1 in order to use all the new features like AirPlay. Apple released it on November 12 so if you haven't gotten it already, hit Software Update and download the latest, or get it directly from Apple. [iTunes 10.1].

(Developers, remember you have the option of updating via Xcode instead of iTunes).

If you've Jailbroken, re-virginize

Many people who Jailbreak their iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad likely won't rush to update but will wait for an iOS 4.2 Jailbreak first. If for some reason you do want to update regardless of Jailbreak, consider restoring to 4.1 pure first. You may not have a problem, but we've heard from enough readers enough times that we recommend including this step. (No laughing Ally and Farbod!)

Again, updating to iOS 4.2 will mean no Jailbreak, no unlock for now. If that's a deal breaker for you, don't update. Just wait.

If you need extra help with this step, we've got a Jailbreak Forum just for you.

Backup your data

Once you have iTunes 10.1 installed, plug in your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and sync it. You want your data backed up, anything you've purchased or updated on-device transferred safely to your Windows/Mac library, and the position of any media you're currently enjoying recorded so you can keep going from the same place once your iOS 4.2 update is done.

Remember, if you haven't synced in a while it could take a few minutes to backup. Don't be impatient, let it run.

Once that's done, launch iPhoto on your Mac or your favorite image capture program on Windows and copy over any photos you've taken on the iPhone. Even the remote chance you may lose your Camera Roll, especially if it has a lot of special moments recorded, is something to be avoided at all costs.

Get up to speed on iOS 4.2

Once everything is done and ready, and if you're still waiting for Apple to release the update, why not check out our complete iOS 4.2 for iPhone and iPod touch walkthrough and complete iOS 4.2 for iPad walkthrough so once you've downloaded and installed it you can spend your time enjoying the new functionality, not trying to discover it.

Jump into the forums and learn more

Did we mention how smart TiPb forum members are? If you have any lingering questions or need any additional help, or you just want to relax and chat with like-minded iOS enthusiasts and technology adepts, head on over to the TiPb Forums.

It's really the very best place on the internet, and the best community, so get involved!

Anything else?

Did we forget anything or just plain get something wrong? Any tips or tricks you use before updating to a major new version of iOS? Let us know in the comments and we'll update.