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Updating iOS does not delete everything on your Apple device. Regardless of how you update the iOS: using iTunes or OTA (over the air), data and settings remain as they were before the update.

What Will Happen If I Update My iOS?

When you update your iOS, the new iOS replaces the old one and installs any security update available. After the setup, download, and installation is complete, you can continue using your device like before with the addition of new features.

The setup process is to verify your Apple ID. Your settings and data remain the same, and no apps or files (including videos, pictures, notes, etc.) are deleted during the update.

Updating your iPhone using the “software update” option on the phone does not cause data loss. Running an update to your iOS is literally swapping and updating your system files. However, it would help if you understood that anything could happen during the update process with resultant data loss.

If you run out of battery or space in the middle of the update, the iOS could be corrupted, and you may need to restart or restore your device. This will cause data loss, and such errors are often rare, and taking certain precautions can eliminate them.

Occasionally, old apps will stop working because that version is no longer compatible with the new iOS. Beginning with iOS 11, all apps that have not been upgraded to be 64-bit compatible will be unable to run on iPhones. You should check your apps if you are upgrading from iOS 10 or older.

Here is how to check if any app will be affected before updating your iOS:

  • Open your settings app
  • Go to General
  • Select About
  • Open Applications

If there is an updated version of the App, updating it will get the App back to working order.

As a precaution against losing anything, you can back up your device manually. You can also set up automatic backup before updating your iOS. You may backup your iPhone using iTunes or iCloud before running the update.

Do You Lose Anything When You Update Your iPhone?

There are more than 850 million active iPhone cloud users in the world today, and iPhones have become a one-stop device for personal information. Pictures, contacts, calendars, passwords, and official documents are all stored on iPhones.

As mentioned earlier, a software update does not erase data from your device, and everything is preserved during and after the iOS update. A power outage or a system error can interrupt the update process, and these are some scenarios where you could lose your existing data.

Another scenario where you can lose data involves installing an iOS that is two or three updates higher than what is currently running on your iPhone. For example, if you try to install iOS 7 on an iPhone running iOS 5, it may crash.

Similarly, skipping from iOS 7 to iOS 10 may also result in a crash. Once your iPhone crashes in this manner, you have to restore it, and restoration involves the loss of data.

You can upgrade the operating system on your iPhone in two ways. The first method only updates the OS without deleting anything (Update), while the second method involves data deletion (Restore.)

If you use iTunes to run a software update, you will get two options “Restore” and “Update.” You can either choose one or update your iOS using both of them. Restoring your iPhone will erase all data and settings and update it simultaneously.

You may also lose old apps that are removed from the Apple App Store after a new update from your phone.

Although iOS updates should happen with no loss of user information from the device, there are rare exceptions. You can dispel any fear and anxiety that accompanies the threat of losing data by backing up your iPhone before an update.

How Can I Update My iOS Without Losing Data?

Updating your iOS can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the following:

  1. The model and storage space of your phone
  2. The size of the iOS
  3. The age of your phone
  4. The continuity and speed of your network connection
  5. Apple servers
  6. Whether or not you are running background apps as you update the iOS

All software updates from Apple are free and do not take a long time to install. Thus, it would help to keep your iPhone’s firmware and software up to date. Each update provides bug fixes, applies the latest security, and brings new features that improve your user experience.

Thankfully, by backing up your files on your computer or iCloud, Apple provides a way to preserve everything in the event of an unexpected loss. Using the backup feature, you can also transfer the contents of an old iPhone when upgrading to a new one.

As you now know, problems rarely occur during the installation of a new iOS. However, there is the possibility of something going wrong to cause data loss. So, to be on the safe side, make it a habit to back up files before you update iOS on an iPhone with irreplaceable data.

How to Back Up Your iPhone

There are two methods to back up your iPhone. The first is a backup synchronization to your computer through iTunes, and it could take several minutes, depending on when you last backed up your phone. When using iTunes, click the encryption option to save your key chain information.

The second method is via iCloud, and to use iCloud for backup, you must be connected to a Wi-Fi network. It loads your data to your online storage for safekeeping. After backing up your device, you are free to update your iOS using:

The Settings App or wireless installation

  1. Launch the Settings app and in the menu, tap General.
  2. Select Software Update to see information about the latest version, including the version number and details about the new features.
  3. Tap Download and Install if your phone has not yet downloaded the update.
  4. Enter your lock screen passcode or PIN as requested.
  5. Once the software update is finished downloading, you will be prompted to either install the update now or later.
  6. Select Install Now.
  7. After the installation starts, you will see Verifying Update. Allow it to complete the verification.
  8. Your phone screen goes black, and it restarts.
  9. A small progress bar and the Apple logo appear in the center of the screen.
  10. You can unlock your phone and resume regular use when it has finished installing.

Finder (for macOS 10.15 or higher) or iTunes (for Mac running macOS 10.14 or earlier and Windows PC): wired connection

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the Lightning-to-USB cable that comes with your iPhone.
  2. Locate your iPhone on the computer and click it: check under Locations in Finder and under Devices in iTunes.
  3. A window appears with information on your iPhone.
  4. Scroll down to General in Finder or Settings > Summary in iTunes.
  5. Tap Check for Update.
  6. Download any available update and select Update after it downloads.
  7. Enter your passcode as required, and the update installs.

You don’t have to restore your iPhone if the update is successful. If the update fails, use the Restore button in the Summary section and select your iTunes backup as requested.

After updating your iPhone, check that it is up to date by looking at the Software Update section. Go to General in Finder of Settings > Summary in iTunes and select Check for Update.

Can You Use Your Phone if Disconnected?

Check your apps too to see the ones that are no longer functional and need an update. Delete the ones that are off the App Store and update the rest.

Constantly update when a new iOS comes out, and if your device is no longer getting updates, you may have to upgrade to a newer one.