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How to install, upgrade and downgrade iOS on your iPhone (+ iOS 12 beta)

Alexandra Malureanu

by Alexandra Malureanu

This guide tells you all you need to know about installing new versions of iOS, upgrading to them, downgrading, and restoring data. Here's what it contains:

How to safely update iOS on your iPhone or iPad

Once you’ve performed a backup of your data, you’re ready to perform a safe iOS upgrade. The procedure is simple.

You have two options to update your iPhone or iPad to the latest iOS, from iCloud or using iTunes.

If you use iCloud or over the air (OTA) updates, here’s what to do. From the Settings menu go to General then select Software update. You’ll see an option called "Download and install". Click on it to initiate the iOS update procedure. If you have restrictions PIN active on the phone, you’ll be asked to introduce it.

If you decide to use the iTunes method, you should install the latest version of iTunes. Then connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer and select your iOS device. On "Summary", select Check for update then choose Download and update. Wait until the upgrade procedure is finished. Don’t disconnect your iPhone before the iOS update is finished.

Common reasons for failed iOS updates -- and fixes 👩‍⚕️

An iOS upgrade could fail for a lot of reasons. These are the most common ones and the fixes which should be used to make sure the next update will be a successful one:

  1. A network error. If you use the OTA method, this is the most common reason for a failed iOS update. You will receive a message telling you that "an error occurred downloading iOS". If you tried to restart the iPhone or you disabled and reactivated the WiFi and you can’t make it work you still have a solution: reset your wireless connection. Go to Settings > General > Reset and choose Reset Network Settings. Check your WiFi connection after resetting.

  2. You need more free space on the iPhone. The default message for this error is: "Insufficient Space For Download". Sometimes, the reason for a failed iOS upgrade is the amount of free space available on the phone. To solve this problem, allow app deletion, or worst case make an iTunes or iCloud backup then delete some files. If you have backups, you can get your files back anytime, after the update.

    Insufficient space for download when upgrading iOS
    Insufficient space for download when upgrading iOS

  3. A power failure or a disconnected cable. This is an unpleasant problem, an harder to fix. You have to check if the iPhone is still working or not. The best solution is to connect it to your computer, then initiate an iTunes restore. After the restoration is complete, you can try once again to update your iPhone to iOS.

How to install an iOS beta

How to install iOS 12 beta on your device (also works for iOS 11 and iOS 10 betas)

Through the developer beta

  1. On your iOS device, navigate to developer.apple.com in Safari

  2. Click "account" and log with to your Apple developer account credentials

  3. Select the "downloads" section

  4. Find the latest iOS beta installation profile, and click to download it

  5. Your iPhone will bring up a prompt, asking if you'd like to install a configuration profile: choose to do so

  6. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update, and tap Download and Install

  7. Wait for the install and reboot -- and you're done!

Through the public beta

  1. On your iOS device, navigate to beta.apple.com/profile, and tap on "Download Profile" section to enroll your device

  2. Your iPhone will bring up a prompt, asking if you'd like to install a configuration profile: choose to do so

  3. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update, and tap Download and Install

  4. Wait for the install and reboot -- and you're done!

How to update to iOS 9 beta

Prior to the full public release, Apple let developers access their iOS 9 betas. They're compatible with every device that supports iOS 8, so you can install it as long as you have an:

  • iPhone 6 & 6 Plus, iPhone 5, 5s & 5c, iPhone 4s
  • iPad Air 1 & 2, iPad mini 1, 2 & 3, iPad 2, 3 & 4
  • iPod touch 5

Update to iOS 9 beta 3 iPhone
Update to iOS 9 beta 3 iPhone

To install iOS 9 beta, follow the steps below.

Download iOS 9 beta

  1. First, you need to be a member of the Apple Developer Program. This costs $99 per year and gives you access to early beta software releases from Apple. Sign up or log in if you already are a developer.

  2. To start the download, the UDID of the device must be registered with Apple. This unique identification number will be used to track the performance of the iOS 9 beta during the testing phase. To find the UDID, simply access the device in iTunes and then click on the serial number. After that, return to the Member Center page on the Developer Program website, click on Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles, select Devices and click on + to register the UDID.

  3. After the identification number is registered, go back to the Member Center page and navigate through SDK, iOS and iOS 9 beta. Just select your device and start downloading.

  4. Extract the downloaded .zip file and get the .IPSW file for installation.

  5. In the next step you must launch iTunes and connect the device to the computer. Hold the Alt key if you're a Mac user or the Shift key if you're using Windows and click on "Restore iPhone". You will then be asked to select the IPSW firmware file, which is the iOS 9 beta file downloaded earlier.

  6. Let the installation finish...

An important aspect of the new update is the efficiency of the space management. Not only that the size has been reduced to 1.3 GB compared to the previous 4.58 GB of the iOS 8, but iOS 9 will even ask users with devices running low on space if it can delete and then replace some apps in order to go ahead with the installation. Nice!

How to install iOS 8 beta on your iPhone

We were pretty impressed with iOS 8. If you are just excited as we were, you'll want to know how to install iOS 8 beta on your iPhone, iPod or iPad.

Visually, iOS 8 is not very different but it brings some the most important changes since iOS 2, including third-party widgets in Notification Center, interactive notifications, touch ID for all applications and apps that can talk to each other.

iOS 8 beta supports iPhone 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, iPod Touch (5th generation), iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air and iPad mini.

Register your iPhone in the Member Center

To download iOS 8 beta, you must have a developer account or register on Apple's website by paying an annual membership of $99. Before installing iOS beta, you need to register your device in the Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles area of Member Center.

To register your device you need to find your UDID (Unique Device Identifier) using iTunes (or Xcode on Mac).

Registering an iPhone's UDID for the beta programme

  1. With the UDID in your clipboard, log in to Apple's Member Center and click the "Devices" link under iOS Apps

  2. Click the + symbol to register

  3. Give your iOS device a name and paste your Unique Device Identifier copied from iTunes or Xcode

  4. Click continue and confirm your entry to complete the registration process.

Download and Install iOS 8 beta on your iPhone with Windows or Mac

These are the steps you need to follow to download and install iOS 8 Beta on your iPhone, iPod or iPad:

  • Download iOS 8 beta from the iOS Developers Center

  • Unzip the iOS 8 beta zip file

  • Connect your iOS device via USB cable to your computer and launch iTunes

  • In iTunes, select your device from the top right corner

  • From the summary tab, hold down the Shift key (on Windows) or Option key (on Mac) and click the Restore button

  • Select the iOS beta IPSW image (downloaded in step 1) and click open to being the installation

  • Your device will reboot after completing the iOS 8 beta installation; a network connection is required to complete the activation

How to update to iOS 7 on your iPhone in a few easy steps

Developers and Apple fans will be happy to know they can download the iOS 7 DMG to test the new features. You can extract the IPSW file needed for install on a Windows PC with DMG Extractor.

iOS 7 beta has been released to developers, bringing juicy changes to Apple's operating system, including an icon redesign and improved Control Center. The fifth beta incarnation of iOS 7 even brings back location tracking!

iTunes iOS 7 beta upgrade
iTunes iOS 7 beta upgrade

Install iOS 7 beta on your iPhone with Windows or Mac

To get the latest iOS 7 beta installed on your iPhone, iPad or iPod, you'll need to use iTunes. If you already have the DMG file for an iOS 7 beta, you can install wih iTunes on your Mac. If you're on Windows, you need to extract the IPSW file from the iOS DMG file. You can do this with our DMG Extractor.

To upgrade to iOS 7 beta, make sure to:

  • Have the latest version of iTunes

  • Connect the iPhone to the computer with a USB cable

  • Select the device in iTunes under Devices

  • Perform a backup of your device with iTunes to keep data safe -- you can test the backup and data inside with the free edition of iPhone Backup Extractor](https://www.iphonebackupextractor.com/free-download/)

  • In iTunes, click "Shift", select "Restore". Browse for the iOS 7 IPSW file, then click "Restore"

When it's time to update, it'll prompt you:

iOS 7 upgrade notice
iOS 7 upgrade notice

How to install the iOS 6 beta on Windows

If you would like the new features of iOS 6 and you don't know how to do that on your Windows PC, we have a solution: DMG Extractor. Here are the steps that you need to follow after you got your hands on the iOS 6 beta firmware in order to upgrade:

Opening the iOS 6 beta DMG file with DMG Extractor
Opening the iOS 6 beta DMG file with DMG Extractor

  1. Download the iOS 6 beta firmware and make sure you downloaded the right firmware for your iOS device. Windows users will find the download is in DMG format. The DMG contains an IPSW restore file. You can extract that on Windows with DMG Extractor.

  2. Open up iTunes and plug your device. We recommend you to use the latest version of iTunes.

    Opening iTunes
    Opening iTunes

  3. Create an up-to-date iTunes backup. Before running any iOS update, perform a backup of your device.

    Backing up your iOS device
    Backing up your iOS device

  4. Test the backup to ensure it's OK and contains your data. You can validate your backup with the free edition of iPhone Backup Extractor.

    Testing your backup copy
    Testing your backup copy

  5. Restore the new IPSW. For updating to iOS 6 beta press Shift (Option on the Mac) and then browse for Restore and select the IPSW restore file you downloaded on step 1. Then just click "Restore".

    iTunes iOS device restoration
    iTunes iOS device restoration

That’s it folks! You should now have successfully updated to iOS 6 beta.

How to upgrade from iOS beta or gold master to the official release

If you're a developer and you're running a gold master release of iOS from the developer beta program, you'll know that often the gold master is binary-identical with the official release. When this is the case, there's no need to update. Sometimes, however, it's not, and there's not an obvious way to get onto the final release.

The answer calls for the classic backup, upgrade and restore. If you are not familiar with IPSW files or this process, our instructions in our guide to downgrade your iOS apply here.

Here are the steps needed, in order:

  • You should get the final release iOS IPSW from Developer Center
  • Download the latest version of iTunes
  • Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer
  • If your iOS device asks to trust your computer, agree, and enter the code on your device
  • Back up the device -- we'd recommend locally to iTunes, as it's quicker both to backup and restore...
  • Hold Shift or Option, click "Check for Updates", and then choose your the IPSW to restore the image to your phone... erasing its content in the process
  • Restore the phone from your backup

How to downgrade an iPhone or iPad from iOS beta

Restoring to a older version of iOS might mean you will not be able to get the data you gathered while using the newer version of iOS on your device. You will not be able to restore an iOS beta iTunes or iCloud backup to an older iOS version. Also -- if you're a cheeky jailbreak user -- your saved blobs will be lost after downgrade.

Restoring your iTunes or iCloud backup data to your iPhone or iPad is possible for most of backed up files, but it's not trivial. Here's our guide on how you can get some of the most important backup data back to your iOS device.

How to downgrade from a beta version of iOS

Here's our step-by-step to do it:

  1. Before proceeding, turn off “Find my iPhone” in Settings > iCloud > Find my iPhone.

  2. Download the older firmware for your device, make sure you download the appropriate version for your iPhone, iPad or iPod

  3. Connect your device via USB to your PC or Mac

  4. Open iTunes and choose your iOS device from the top left corner

  5. While continuously holding the Option key on the Mac or Shift key in Windows, click "Check for update"

  6. Select the iOS IPSW file you previously downloaded

  7. iTunes will inform you that it will update your iOS device and will verify this update with Apple; click "Update"

  8. iTunes will downgrade your device

  9. Your iOS device will restart after downgrading

  10. "Slide to upgrade" will appear as your device restarts: unlock, enter the password, activate if necessary, and wait for the downgrade process to finish

That's it! You’ve successfully downgraded. We've included instructions for earlier beta downgrades below.

How to downgrade iOS 9 beta to iOS 8.4

  1. First, turn off "Find my iPhone" by going to Settings > iCloud >Find My iPhone.

  2. Connect the device to the computer, launch iTunes and enter DFU mode. To do this, turn off the device, hold the power button for 3 seconds, whilst holding the Home button for 10 seconds. Release the power button and continue holding the home button until iTunes shows the recovery mode confirmation. Click OK.

    Entering DFU mode: iTunes
    Entering DFU mode: iTunes

  3. Then click on the "Restore iPhone" button and select "Restore and Update" for the confirmation. iTunes will give you some information about the iOS 8.4 update and will wait for you to click through "Next" and "Agree" buttons.

    Restore and update: iTunes downgrade from iOS 9 to iOS 8.4
    Restore and update: iTunes downgrade from iOS 9 to iOS 8.4

  4. iOS 8.4 will be downloaded and installed to your device. After about 10 minutes you'll see the "Hello" screen and instructions about restoring personal data from the backup.

    iTunes downloading to downgrade to iOS 8.4
    iTunes downloading to downgrade to iOS 8.4

How to downgrade from iOS 8.0.1 to iOS 8.0

Here are some steps you need to take to safely get back to iOS 8 without losing any content:

  1. Connect your iPhone to iTunes using your USB cable

  2. Once you have created a safe backup of your iPhone running iOS 8.0.1, download the iOS 8 file corresponding to your device: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus

  3. Install iOS 8 with iTunes by selecting the file you just downloaded and following these actions:

    On Windows: Press Shift key and click "Check for update"

    On Mac: Press the Option key and click "Check for update"

  4. Finally, press "Update" and iOS 8 will be back, and you'll be able to enjoy cell service and Touch ID again

How to downgrade from iOS 8 beta to iOS 7

The easiest way to downgrade from any iOS beta version is to use an IPSW file. Steps to bring back the iOS 7.1.1 to your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Download the iOS 7.1.1 IPSW firmware from the developer portal, and make sure you download the version appropriate for your device.

  2. Connect your iPhone or iPad running iOS 8 to your computer using the USB cable

  3. Launch the latest version of iTunes

  4. From the top right side of iTunes, select your device. Go to the summary tab, and you'll see the "Update" button. Hold down the Shift key (on Windows) or Option key (on Mac) and click the "Update" button

  5. Select the IPSW firmware you downloaded earlier. iTunes will now install iOS 7 on your device. Your iPhone or iPad will reboot, and once done you should be back on iOS 7.1.1 again.

How to downgrade from iOS 7 beta: step-by-step guide

It's easy to upgrade to iOS 7 with a developer account, either on a Mac or on a Windows PC (by extracting the .ipsw file from the DMG iOS 7 download). If you want to go back to iOS 6, you will need the .ipsw file for iOS 6, so pick the right version of iOS for your device:

iOS 7 on an iPhone connected to iTunes
iOS 7 on an iPhone connected to iTunes

Once you have downloaded the .IPSW file for iOS 6, run iTunes on your PC or Mac computer and connect your device. Once it is recognized, you can restore the iPhone or iPad with iTunes (hold Shift on a Windows PC, hold Option and click "Restore iPhone").

iOS 7 downgrade to iOS 6
iOS 7 downgrade to iOS 6

The last step is to select the iOS 6 firmware file you downloaded: iTunes will then install the iOS, once completed your device will restart. You can then load any previous backups made on prior to the iOS 7 install. Any data created on iOS 7 only can be extracted using our software if needed.

How to restore an iOS beta iTunes backup to a downgraded iPhone or iPad

Many people like to try Apple iOS betas as they come out. However making a committed move to an iOS beta has its risks and pitfalls, and after a while you might decide the new design and features cannot compensate for the iOS instability, frequent restarts and data loss. After all you need to use your device, right?

If you find yourself needing to revert from a beta iOS, you'll need to be aware that restoring an iOS beta iTunes or iCloud backup to a downgraded iOS device is not possible.

What are your options, then? Well, there's two:

  1. Patch your backup to make it compatible with the earlier iOS, or

  2. Pull the data you need from your iTunes or iCloud backup, and import it

If you need data from an iOS beta backup for either option, iPhone Backup Extractor is the right tool for you.

Your contacts, SMS messages, iMessages, notes, photos, videos and app data are all in your iTunes and iCloud backup, assuming you took one. But if you already downgraded the device to a non-beta iOS, you won't be able to restore the beta data. If you try, it'll give you the following message:

iTunes could not restore the iPhone "Renate's iPhone" because the backup was corrupt or not compatible with the iPhone that is being restored.

Trying to restore an iOS beta backup to an older version of iOS
Trying to restore an iOS beta backup to an older version of iOS

iTunes can store backups locally on your Windows PC or Mac for easy restoration of data to your device, and the iCloud can do similar in the cloud. However if iTunes or iCloud can't restore these backups because the device is lost, has a higher iOS than the backup firmware or the backup has been corrupted, what do you do? Fortunately the backups can still be opened easily and data extracted quickly with iPhone Backup Extractor.

These are the typical use-cases:

Having trouble restoring or opening an iOS beta iTunes backup? Don't be a stranger: reach out!

Alexandra Malureanu

by Alexandra Malureanu on , last updated

We've helped over 3,000,000 people recover their lost iPhone data. Let us help you too.

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