How To Upgrade Your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch To iOS 5 The Right Way [How-To]



Upgrading your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to a new version of iOS isn’t hard, but there’s still a few ways to optimize the process, not just to make the upgrade process as quick and painless as possible, but to make sure you leave all downgrading options available to you in a pinch. Here’s how to do it the right way.

Upgrade to iTunes 10.5

This one’s a no-brainer. You can’t upgrade to iOS 5 if you don’t have the latest version of iTunes installed. Download iTunes 10.5 for PC or Mac here.

Clean Up Your Device

Now that you’re going through all the trouble of installing a fresh new version of iOS, why not take the opportunity to clean some of the junk out of the basement? iOS 5 is a perfect opportunity to get rid of your least used apps, clean out your old photos, and pare down your media.

You can, of course, do this on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad if you want, but we find the easiest way to clean up a device is actually through iTunes. Just plug your device into your computer, select it under ‘Devices’ in iTunes and then use the tabs at the top to quickly delete apps, movies, music or photos that you don’t want anymore.

The benefits here aren’t just having a cleaner device when you install iOS 5. Because iOS 5 will need to copy all of your data back onto your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch after the OS has been updated, pruning your data to the barest minimum can significantly shorten the process.

Extract Your SHSH Blobs Using Tiny Umbrella

Every time you upgrade your iPhone or iPad, it’s a one way street. Apple doesn’t want you downgrading your iPhone to a lower version, which means that if you have any problems with the new OS, you can’t just roll back to iOS 4.3. You’re stuck… well, unless you save your SHSH blobs.

Having your SHSH blobs on your computer will allow you to downgrade if the iOS 5 upgrade doesn’t go smoothly… or if you want to go back to a jailbroken iOS 4.3.3 device. And it’s easy to do. Just download TinyUmbrella for Mac, install the program, and run it.

With your iOS Device plugged in, select it under the Connected Devices heading in the left most pane. Now click the “Save SHSH” button.

Done! Now if you decide to ever downgrade back to iOS 4.3, you have the option of doing so.

Manually Backup Your Device

Again, this is an easy step, but an important one in case things go wrong. Load up iTunes, connect your device, select it under the “Devices” heading, right click and select “Backup” A minute or so later and your device’s data should be all backed up and ready to update.

Update to iOS 5

Now it’s time to get Apple’s newest mobile operating system on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, where it belongs. And it couldn’t be easier. Just open iTunes, plug in your device, navigate to it using the “Devices” panel and click the big “Check for Update” button under “Version.”

Once iOS 5 is available, this should start the download of the appropriate build for your device. Be patient, and keep your device plugged in until the update downloads and installs.

Once your device reboots itself, you should see a welcome screen like this:

Slide to set up your device, and then when iOS 5’s setup screen asks you to, restore your device from a local backup.

Congratulations! You’ve now upgraded your device to iOS 5, cleaned up your iPhone or iPad and left the door open to downgrade if something goes wrong. How’d it go for you?

  • Frank Leijdekkers

    Hmmmmm nice post ;)

  • Frank Leijdekkers


  • JoshObra

    What if we had iOS 5 before it officially came out and iTunes is not letting me update? :[

  • Philip Nielsen

    I’d like to know too!!

  • Concerned TT

    Do I have to worry about losing my TinyTower?

  • 0Jain

    I have the iOS GM, Is there anything i need to do ?

  • Philip Nielsen

    Tiny Tower is synced to their own cloud, so it will automatically restore your progress after installation

  • Dan Lennon

    enter DFU mode and click restore. It’ll download iOS5 but start you fresh like when you installed the GM.

  • MT

    Will it reset my games? I’m playing Japan Life and I am afraid that it will delete all the data. Also will it delete all my music? (I usually add my songs manually and I do not have all of them on my iTunes…)

  • JoshObra

    Lol. Yeah. What Dan said. I was about to comment that right now but he beat me to it lol

  • JoshObra

    Should back up and transfer purchases to itunes. I still have my angry birds data from my iPhone 3G on my iPhone 4. o.O;

  • FriarNurgle

    What if you’ve been running the iOS5 Beta?

  • brownlee

    Nope, nothing. You’re done. You already have the most current version.

  • Philip Nielsen

    But what if you WANT to have the final release then?

  • Philip Nielsen

    But I wil still be able to restore form the last back-up, right?

  • fishkid13

    Personally, I’m just going to do a full restore. It’s about time I reorganized my apps. 

  • Philip Nielsen

    Didn’t work: Internal error :(

  • Nick Kassatly

    Just used tiny umbrella for the first time and it locked up my phone from the upgrade due to the cydia settings, be careful. 

  • vanmacguy

    You already have it. The iOS 5 GM *is* the final version.

  • vanmacguy

    If you installed IOS 5 using one of the jailbreak-like tools, you may have an entry in your hosts file that’s not allowing iTunes to contact the Apple iTunes update servers. Check for entries in your hosts file and remove them.

  • vanmacguy

    You should be able to but that won’t give you the iOS 5 GM.

  • vanmacguy

    Look up the error you’re getting. It might be because of the hosts file issue I mentioned below.

  • Hampus

    Yea, as you said “the cydia settings”, the change your host file so that when iTunes attempt installing iOS it will verify with iOS instead of Apple. There is a warning in the app that you should not enable that if you want to do an upgrade and if I’m not mistaken it’s not selacted by default…

  • Hampus

    It’s likly it has some kind of marker saying it’s GM rather than the final release though, havn’t tried any GMs myself but it’s possible things like future over the air updates might not work with the GM installed.

  • JD

    using tiny umbrella made my device “ineligible” for the update 

  • Rachelh916

    I’m having a problem with my iphone 4. after itunes cycles through backing up my phone, then ‘extracting software’i get a message that says: This iPhone could not be restored. An internal error occurred.

    Now what?! No iOS upgrade for me?

  • pezhuevon

    I’m getting the same thing here :(
    No update for us! The tech is great until it doesn’t work. The “help” links are, of course, quite useless. Damned if I have to go to an apple store. They’re gonna be slammed. Ugh. I’ll try again tonight.

  • Messishine

    same here. Any solution?

  • JD

    yep, had that tiny ubrella issue and now internal error occurred. Next time I won’t follow anything this blog states. 

  • Infernova

    Edit your hosts file. With Windows, go to %windir%/WINDOWS/system32/drivers/etc/ and copy your hosts file to your desktop. Open the copy with notepad and remove all lines that have the word apple in it. save it.

    rename the existing hosts file (in the windows directory) to hosts.bak or something similar and copy the desktop hosts file back into the directory.

    Don’t open TinyUmbrella at all during or after the process as this kinda stuffs the restore.

    Now, just open iTunes and restore/upgrade.

  • Infernova

    To edit hosts file on Mac, see here:

  • Rachelh916

    I’m using my iMac. All software is up to date. 
    (I’ve never used TinyUmbrella.)

  • pezhuevon

    Apparently it is due to high server demand…

  • Infernova

    Posted a link to edit hosts on Mac but it’s not here yet. Hmm

    Anyway you can google how to edit Mac hosts file, just in case you have a entry or whatever. Delete them all along with the ip address (aka the whole line)

    Let me know how the restore goes if you edit the file successfully.

  • Dom

    can this be changed?

  • Cordeezy

    It was selected by default on my version! Took me three hours to figure that out!

  • Lnbrewe1

    can’t figure out how to download iMessage. I don’t see the icon anywhere and I turned on the locative services. I’m lost…

  • bob17

    Upgraded to iOS 5 yesterday on my iPAD 2. No major issues, but I am unable to find the Air Play application. Does anyone else have this problem?

  • John

    every time I upgrade it deletes my apps.  This is very frustrating.