How to prepare your iPhone or iPad for iOS 8

iOS8IconXApple has announced iOS 8 will be released on September 17, and as with prior iOS updates it will appear as a notice on your iPhone (models 4S, 5, 5S, or 5C), iPad (models 2, 3, 4, including the Air, and all versions of the Mini), or iPod Touch (5th generation only) that will instruct you to download and install the new software; however, before you do, be sure your various iDevices and their contents are backed up, and are otherwise prepared for the update.

1. Manually back up your documents

One service Apple provides for those who use iCloud, is the constant syncing of settings, contacts, and the availability of iCloud purchases, so much of the data on your phone should already be available to re-populate your phone in the event it gets erased; however, other data you use may not be treated in the same way. For instance, if you have a special PDF organizing app in which you have a collection of documents saved, unless the app has an online synchronizing service, then the documents in it could be lost if the iPhone needs to be reset.

Therefore, be sure to copy your data from your iOS apps to your Mac. This can be done in iTunes by connecting your iOS device, and then selecting the Apps section for it in iTunes, in this section you will see a File Sharing area, where you will have apps listed that support copying of files directly to and from your Mac. Selecting each will show the various documents you have available, and you can drag them from iTunes to a location on your Mac to back them up.

App file transfer in iTunes

Using this view in iTunes, you can select an app and then choose its documents, followed by clicking the Save To button at the bottom-right to save them to your Mac.

2. Backup your iDevice

Beyond settings and individual app documents, before upgrading your iDevice, use iTunes to make a local backup of it, so you can restore it or at least have your data in the event of a problem:

  1. Select the iPhone or iPad in iTunes
  2. In the Summary section, locate the Backups area
  3. Click “Back Up Now” to make a backup on your Mac
App updates in iOS

Tap the Update All link in the Updates section, to ensure all installed apps are at their latest versions.

3. Update apps

In the first few days of iOS 8 being available, you may get a number of notices about app updates for your iPhone or iPad. Be sure to update these as soon as you can, and preferably before updating iOS itself.

  1. Open the App Store
  2. Go to the Updates section
  3. Check for an install any updates that are available

While some might have reservations about app updates potentially introducing problems, keep in mind that by not updating—especially when applying an OS update—you chance the introduction of bugs and other unwanted behaviors from apps. Therefore, be sure to update right away.

4. When updating, give it time

In past updates for iOS, Apple has run into high server load that has made the updates crawl for those downloading, and sometimes even stop half-way through downloading, or not being able to connect to Apple’s servers. If you run into such problems, it may be best to simply wait a day or two (or even until late in the night) and try the update again. Eventually the iOS 8 installer will download and install.

2 thoughts on “How to prepare your iPhone or iPad for iOS 8

  1. lynne

    thank you for the reminder!! related to this – is there an EASY way to have your backups go to an external dedicated hard drive instead of your mac hard drive?
    and another question – which is probably dumb — when you look at the backups in the home folder library, how can you tell which is your iPad back up and which is your iPhone?– all I see are strings of numbers!

    1. Strod

      Regarding your second question: In iTunes > Preferences > Devices. The backups listed there have the name you have given to each device, but in case of doubt hover over them and some identifiers will appear (IMEI, phone number, serial number). Right-click (or ctrl-click) on one of them and select “Show in Finder” to find out which of the folders with cryptic hexadecimal numbers holds that particular backup.

      Regarding your first question, I have not tested this so don’t sue me if it doesn’t work, but you can try: Quit iTunes, copy the Backup folder (or its parent, MobileSync) to the external drive, rename the original (so undoing the mess if things go wrong is trivial), create either an alias or a soft link in place of the original pointing to the copy in the external drive, and re-start iTunes.


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