Not-so-obvious update procedure revealed

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS, CPA
September 1, 2013

Q: I purchased an Apple iPad 2 two years ago with iOS 4.33 installed, and I now need to update the operating system because many of my current app updates require iOS 5.xx (or higher). In addition, I am unable to install newer apps that require iOS 5.xx (or higher). I’ve wasted many hours trying to figure out how to update the iPad’s iOS, but for unknown reasons my device does not display the Software Update menu option referred to in the instructions. I am very frustrated; can you please help me?

A: You would think that updating Apple’s iOS would be a cinch, but when it comes to version 4.xx or earlier, it’s not. The secret is that Apple’s older iOS menus do not display an upgrade menu option unless you connect the device to another PC running iTunes. ( Note: The term PC in this item can refer to Windows-based personal computers or Macs.) For iPad users who don’t have an extra PC lying around, this means borrowing one, and even then you must be careful to update your iOS using your iTunes account and password, not the PC owner’s. ( Note: The original Apple iPad does not support iOS 6.x due to that device’s RAM and processor limitations; hence iOS 5.1.1 is the highest release compatible with the original iPad.)

Specific instructions for updating your iPad 2 iOS 4.33 to the latest iOS 6.01 version are as follows. (Be aware that updating your iPad’s iOS will remove your apps and settings, therefore it is important to first sync your iPad settings and back up your device’s applications and data before proceeding.)

1. Ensure that your device is backed up to iTunes before updating.

2. Make sure you are plugged into an electrical source so you don’t lose power during the update.

3. Connect your iPad to a Windows or Mac PC running iTunes (using the cable provided when you purchased your iPad), and then launch iTunes on the PC. (If prompted, follow the instructions for upgrading to the newest version of iTunes).

4. Upon launching, iTunes should automatically detect your iPad and prompt you to update, but just to be safe, choose Cancel and first ensure that your iPad’s latest settings are properly synced to the PC so they can be restored after the upgrade is completed. Upon canceling, iTunes should automatically sync your latest iPad settings to your PC. (If iTunes does not automatically sync, you can manually sync your iPad settings by selecting your iPad within iTunes, and in the Backups section select This computer, and then click the Back Up Now button, as pictured below.)

(Note: iCloud and the iCloud backup option are available when upgrading from iOS 5.x or higher.)

5. After your iPad has been synced to iTunes, select your iPad within iTunes, and from the iPad menu, click the Check for Update button, then click the Download and Install option, as pictured below.

Software Update6. The update will take several minutes to complete, and your iPad may reboot several times during this process.

7. Once the update is complete, repeat the steps described above to connect the iPad to your PC and launch iTunes. If necessary, in the Backups section on iTunes, click the Restore Backup button to restore your settings, apps, and data.

( Note: Subsequent iOS editions have corrected this issue as an iOS update option is now available without connecting to a PC running iTunes.)

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