Fix An iPhone or iPad That Won’t Update

iPhones and iPads require regular software updates to function properly. Software update problems are rather typical, but you and I may not even experience the exact same issue. Sometimes, it may be hard to launch the update due to a low battery, other times, the iPhone or iPad just bricks during an ongoing update.

In this guide, I’ll share useful troubleshooting tips you can try to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update. Different things could cause these issues, perhaps insufficient storage space or faulty update files. Regardless of the specific issue, the basic tips I’ve provided in this article should help you determine the problem source and successfully fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update.

iOS or iPadOS update not working? Try these tips to fix an iPhone or iPad that won't update

How Can You Fix an iPhone or iPad That Won’t Update?

When such update issues arise, there’s usually a simple solution to the problem. Here’s how to troubleshoot and fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update iOS or iPadOS.

Charge Your iPad or iPhone

Before moving on to more complex fixes, let’s start with some basics. First consider that your iPhone will not allow you to update if its battery capacity is insufficient. This is to avoid your device from shutting down in the middle of an update, which can cause bigger problems.

So, before beginning the OS update, make sure your iPhone or iPad is plugged in and has a full charge. It’s also a good idea to leave it charging while the process is running. As a result, even if the process takes longer than expected, your phone will not run out of battery power. Try this and see if it works to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update.

Ensure your device is eligible for the update

Apple discontinues support for older devices over time, so not all iPhone and iPad models can be updated to the most recent OS version. Scroll down to the bottom of Apple’s iOS info page or iPadOS info page. You’ll see a box that says iOS is compatible with these devices, so check it to ensure your device can receive the latest release of Apple’s mobile operating system.

What this just means is that if you’re looking to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update, it might involve upgrading your device totally.

Check the Storage Space

The software update file that your iPhone or iPad downloads from Apple’s servers requires physical storage space on your device. If your device has insufficient storage capacity, you may certainly encounter problems while updating. 

For maximum device performance, at least 10-15% of total storage capacity should be set aside as free space. The files are removed once the update is complete, so this free space can be temporarily used for software updates. To check the available storage space on your device, go to Settings -> General -> iPhone/iPad Storage. Create space depending on the files you find there if necessary, then check to see if this works to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update.

Force-Restart Your Device

You may be unable to update your iPhone due to a one-time problem. Restarting your phone will force its processes to restart, presumably clearing up any temporary issues, and this may help fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update.

When you’ve completed this successfully, your screen will go black. Following that, an Apple logo will appear, followed by your lock screen. Your device has now been fully refreshed, so you can try updating again.

Run the Update using iTunes or the Finder

Most of us are used to updating iOS directly on our iPhones, but it’s also possible to perform a system update using iTunes or the Finder program on a computer. Truly, it’s not as convenient, but it can be useful if the over-the-air update isn’t working. If you don’t have enough free space on your device, this is another option to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update.

You can upgrade your iPhone via iTunes on Windows or macOS Mojave and earlier by following these steps:

  • If you don’t already have it, download iTunes for Windows.
  • Use a cable to connect your iPhone or iPad to your PC.
  • Launch iTunes and select the little device button in the top bar, which is located under Controls and Account.
  • Sync your iOS device by pressing the Sync button in the bottom-right corner. This may occur automatically depending on your settings.
  • When the sync is completed, click Check for update in the top box.
  • Click the Download button.
  • When the download is complete, click Update.

Apple discontinued iTunes for Mac with macOS Catalina, so you’ll have to use Finder instead, follow these steps:

  • Connect your device to your Mac, launch Finder, and choose the name of your device from the left sidebar. 
  • You’ll get directed to a panel similar to the old iTunes interface, Here, complete the steps outlined above (the essential controls are located under the General tab). 
  • After that, the update should be installed on your device.

Delete Previous Update Data 

If an iOS update fails, the data doesn’t just disappear. It remains on the device so you don’t have to repeat the download. However, sometimes this data just has to go to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update. So, if you can’t update your iPhone or iPad, delete the update file through the steps below:

  • Go to Settings, General, and then Device Name Storage.
  • Locate the update in the list.
  • Select the update, then click the Delete Update button.

After removing the update, navigate to Settings, General, Software Update, and choose to download (and then install as usual).

Check Your Network

If you’re unable to update your device using iTunes or Finder, it’s important to check your network connection. If your Wi-Fi connection is poor or unstable, you may be unable to update properly, both on your iPhone and through your computer.

When attempting to update, ensure that you are connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network. If you haven’t restarted your router in a while, you should. If the problem persists, you could try connecting to another network and seeing if it helps to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update.

Reset Your Network Settings

If you can’t update on any Wi-Fi network, you can clear the network settings to fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update. Please keep in mind that this will delete all network preferences you’ve saved, so you’ll need to reconnect to all previously saved Wi-Fi networks. This will also clear any VPN setups and Bluetooth connection settings.

To reset your iPhone or iPad’s network settings, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings and select General.
  • Scroll down to Transfer or Reset iPhone (this should be marked Reset on iOS 14 and earlier).
  • At the bottom, choose Reset, then Reset Network Settings.
  • Put in your passcode and confirm that you want to proceed.

All in all, having a phone that refuses to update is not pleasant in any way. That’s why I hope that at least one tip here helps you fix an iPhone or iPad that won’t update. If nothing works, you should consider fully erasing your device. You can either reset all settings or conduct a factory reset to wipe everything.

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