Whether you're purchasing a new device or upgrading your existing device to iOS 8, it's important to follow a simple regimen to ensure that the device and all of its data stays intact and that you don't encounter any issues when upgrading. The upgrade process is pretty straightforward, but doing a little prep work beforehand will ensure that the upgrade goes smoothly and quick. Follow these tips for optimum upgradability on iOS devices.
1. Remove unwanted data
The first step to preparing your iOS device for an iOS update is to remove all of the unwanted data. This includes photos, text messages, and content stored in applications, including iTunes data like movies, music, TV shows, and books. You want to slim down your device as much as possible to increase the storage capabilities for the Over the Air (OTA) update that is downloaded to your device. The update is around 1 GB; however, the system will want twice that amount of capacity in order to unpack and install the update. So, you'll want at least 2 GB of freely available storage on the device.
To remove unwanted data from your device:
- Open Settings
- Navigate to General | Usage
- Select the application from the list of apps installed on your device
- Swipe from right to left on the stored content list to delete individual items of content (if applicable) (Figure A)
Removing content from built-in apps, such as Music, allows you to slim down the device, making it easier to restore later from a backup.
In this section (if applicable to the app), then you'll be able to see the list of content that's stored inside the application. Swiping from right to left on the content list cells will give you the option to delete. This primarily works on built-in Apple apps (such as Music and Videos).
2. Remove unwanted apps
After you've removed unwanted data from your device, you'll want to pair down any apps that you no longer use or want. This is especially true if you'll be restoring the device's data to a new iOS device, because it can take a considerable amount of time to reinstall applications on a new device through an iCloud or iTunes backup.
To remove unwanted applications from your iOS device:
- Press the home button to go back to the main home screen
- Tap and hold an icon for an app you wish to delete
- Press the "X" that appears in the top left corner of the icon
- Press "Delete" in the confirmation dialog to delete the app (Figure B)
Deleting large apps such as games, navigation apps, and streaming media apps that saves data is another way to pair down device usage.
Deleting an application on iOS will both remove its application data and remove the application from the device itself. If the item is a game, or connected to other Apple services (such as iCloud, Passbook, etc.), then you may be prompted (and can optionally agree) to remove the application from those components as well.
3. Update the device
The key to ensuring that you don't have any issues upgrading (or issues restoring) is to first check that you're running the latest version of iOS before you attempt a backup via iCloud or iTunes.
To update your device using the OTA updater:
- Open Settings
- Navigate to General | Software Update (Figure C)
- Select Install Update (if an update is available)
Ensuring that you have the latest update means that the backups will remain fully compatible with the next available release of iOS.
In this section, you'll be prompted to update if there's an update available; otherwise, you'll get a message that says your current version of iOS is up to date. If this is the case, no action is needed.
4. Create a full backup in iCloud and iTunes
Before installing a new iOS software update on your device, you'll want to make a full backup of the device in both iTunes and iCloud (having two backups is important, and it opens the possibilities for restoring from either method in the future).
To back up your device fully in iTunes, perform the following steps:
- Connect your device (either through iTunes OTA syncing or through USB)
- Open iTunes, and select your device
- Open the Summary Tab (Figure D)
- Click the "Back Up Now" button in the Backups section
Before backing up in iTunes, it's important to sync over any purchased items so they're stored in your local iTunes library.
Once the backup has started, let it complete before disconnecting your device. Watch the status area of iTunes (to the right of the play/pause buttons) to be updated on the current backup status.
To back up your device fully through iCloud, perform these steps:
- Connect your device to Wi-Fi, and plug it in (if you have a low battery)
- Navigate to Settings | iCloud | Storage & Backup
- Scroll down to the bottom of the view
- Tap the button labeled "Back Up Now" (Figure E)
iCloud backups are done over the internet, so the faster the connection, the faster the backup will happen.
iCloud backups can take a while and may require you to purchase an upgrade option if you don't have enough storage space in your iCloud account. However, this is a good option, because it allows you to restore your device to the same or another iOS device in the future more easily.
5. Restore the backup (optional)
If you've purchased a new device, or if you're restoring your current device to iOS 8 (after a full factory restore, for instance), then you can migrate your data and apps back onto your device by performing the following steps for either iTunes or iCloud.
If you wish to restore via iTunes:
- Connect your device (through USB)
- Open iTunes, and select the device
- You'll be prompted to set up as a new device or restore from backup; select the restore option
- Proceed to select the compatible backup that you wish to restore onto the device (Figure F)
Restore from iTunes by connecting your iOS device to your computer for the first time.
While the restore process takes place, you won't have access to the device. Once it restarts, you can then use iOS, but apps and other data will still have to sync over from the backup files.
If you wish to restore via iCloud:
- Turn on your new device or an older device after wiping
- In the Setup Assistant, when prompted, select "Restore from Backup"
- Sign into iCloud
- Choose backup from the list of available backups and compatible devices in the list
After doing this, your personal data will be delivered from iCloud to your device. Once your device restarts, you'll be able to open iOS, but apps and other data (such as photos) may take a bit of time to sync over. You'll be notified when the restore is complete.
Preparation is key
As you can see, preparing your Apple device for a new iOS version will help ensure that if something does go wrong (even if the probability is low), that you have backups and options in place to restore your device no matter what happens.
Do you perform any prep work before upgrading your device to new iOS versions? Have you ever encountered any upgrade issues with iOS? If you have, share your stories and opinions in the discussion thread below.
Cory Bohon is an indie developer, creating both iOS and OS X applications at Cocoa App (his own company), MartianCraft, and for various other clients. As a part of full disclosure, he does not write about any software that he has created or has helped to create through these outlets.
Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite technology part-time since 2007. He runs a development blog named ObjDev when he isn’t writing about consumer tech.