What to do if iOS update won’t install?

It can be frustrating when an iOS update gets stuck during installation and won’t complete. There are a few potential causes and solutions to try to get the update back on track. Some common reasons an iOS update may become stuck include the device having low storage space, being connected to the wrong WiFi network, or attempting an over-the-air update with unstable internet connectivity. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to troubleshoot and get the latest iOS version installed properly.

Check Storage Space

One of the most common reasons an iOS update can fail to install is if there is not enough available storage space on your device. iOS updates often require at least 2-3 GB of free space in order to download and install successfully. Before attempting an update, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage to see how much space you have available. If your device is low on space, you will need to free up room for the update to complete. Here are some tips to clear space:

Offload Unused Apps

Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and tap on any apps you no longer use. Select “Offload App” to remove the app itself while saving its documents and data. This will clear up space without deleting the app entirely.

Delete Apps

Delete any unused, outdated or redundant apps manually from your Home screen. Tap and hold on an app icon until they start to wiggle, then tap the X icon to delete each one. This completely removes the app and all of its data.

Remove Photos and Videos

Photos and videos take up more space than any other type of file on your iPhone. One option is to manually delete photos or videos you no longer need. Alternatively, use iCloud Photos to optimize your iPhone storage by only storing lower resolution versions locally and keeping full resolution copies in the cloud.

Clear Browser Cache and Data

Web browsers like Safari can build up storage space over time from cache files, cookies and browsing history. Go to Settings > Safari and tap on “Clear History and Website Data” to wipe the browser data clean and free up room.

Offload Messages Attachments

The Messages app may be consuming local storage with photo, video and audio attachments saved from conversations. Enable Settings > Messages > Message Attachments > Offload Unused Attachments to have these removed automatically when space is needed.

Backup Then Factory Reset

As a last resort, you can completely wipe and restore your iPhone to factory default settings. Be sure to do an iCloud or iTunes backup first, then reset your device to reclaim all available storage. Reinstall apps and restore data from the backup after.

Update Over Stable WiFi

Performing an iOS update over a WiFi connection that loses connectivity mid-install is a prime culprit for stuck updates. Before starting an update, disable or move away from known “dead zones” in your home or office where signal strength drops. Connect to a strong, stable WiFi network to maintain a consistent internet connection throughout the large download and entire update installation process. Avoid using public WiFi networks which may have bandwidth restrictions or connection issues.

For the most reliable connection, update your iPhone using your home WiFi router rather than a public hotspot. If you have a mesh WiFi system, make sure to initiate the update when near your primary router unit for best performance. Turn off Low Data Mode if enabled, as this can impede update downloads even when on WiFi. Restart your iPhone before attempting the update to clear any software issues.

Avoid OTA Updates

Updating over-the-air directly on your iPhone involves downloading the entire iOS update file on that device storage before installing. This requires strong WiFi throughout and risks failure if the connection drops mid-install. Instead, consider updating using iTunes on a computer which downloads the software independently and handles installation.

Update with iTunes on PC or Mac

Install or update to the latest version of iTunes on a Windows PC or Mac computer. Connect your iPhone to the computer using the USB cable. Open iTunes if not already running, select your iPhone, then click “Check for Update” to have iTunes download and install the latest iOS version onto your device seamlessly.

Update at an Apple Store

Make a Genius Bar appointment at your local Apple store and have an Apple technician update your device in-store for free. This uses the same iTunes-based software update process in a controlled environment with consistent internet connectivity, and allows the technician to monitor the installation.

Fix iPhone Update Issues

If you run into errors or issues while trying to install an iOS update, there are troubleshooting steps to fix many common problems. This can resolve errors like “Verification Failed”, installation stopping mid-way or your iPhone being stuck on the Apple logo after rebooting.

Force Restart iPhone

One quick fix is to force restart your iPhone, similar to the hard reboot process on a computer. Press and hold the Side and Volume Down buttons simultaneously until the screen goes black and the Apple logo reappears. The forced reboot will clear any temporary glitches allowing the update to resume.

Delete Update and Redownload

Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and find the iOS update file, likely a multi-gigabyte download taking up space. Tap on the update, then choose Delete Update. Once removed, go back to Settings > General > Software Update and try downloading and installing the update again from scratch.

Update iPhone Using Recovery Mode

If an update still fails, put your iPhone into Recovery Mode and update from there. Connect the iPhone to your computer using a Lightning cable. Then quickly press and release the Volume Up button once. Immediately press and hold the Side button until you see the Recovery Mode screen. In iTunes select your device and choose Update.

Restore iPhone Using Recovery Mode

For major failures, you may need to fully restore your iPhone software. Follow the Recovery Mode steps again, but this time select Restore iPhone on the iTunes screen. This will wipe your device and reinstall the operating system, allowing you to start fresh.

Prevent Future Update Issues

Following best practices can help ensure future iOS updates install smoothly without errors or stalled progress.

Keep Your iPhone Up to Date

Install iOS updates as soon as they become available to take advantage of the latest features and security enhancements. Skipping versions often causes more issues down the road. Keep your apps updated as well.

Maintain Enough Available Storage

Check your available space regularly and remove unneeded files, photos and apps. Avoid maxing out your iPhone storage capacity.

Back Up Your iPhone Before Updating

Always do a fresh iCloud or iTunes backup before installing an iOS update. This provides a rollback point if anything goes wrong. Sync your photos, videos, contacts and other important data.

Use a Stable WiFi Connection

Do not use a public WiFi hotspot or your cellular data connection to update. Connect to a fast, reliable home WiFi network with a strong signal and no data caps.

Update at Times of Low Usage

Avoid updating right before you need to use your iPhone, as the process can take some time to complete. Install updates overnight or times when you will not be inconvenienced by any downtime.

Read Update Details Before Installing

Take note of any special installation instructions or requirements detailed in the update release notes. This can flag potential issues to watch out for or steps needed to ensure successful installation.


iOS software updates provide important new features and security protections. But failed or stalled updates can be extremely frustrating. With the right troubleshooting techniques, you can get your iPhone successfully updated again. Check your available storage, use a stable WiFi connection, force restart your device, delete and re-download the update, or use Recovery Mode as needed. Following our best practices will help avoid update issues going forward. Keeping your iPhone up to date provides the smoothest overall experience and is well worth the occasional troubleshooting required.

Issue Potential Cause Solution
Not enough storage space iOS update requires 2-3GB of free space Delete unused apps and files to clear space
Loss of WiFi mid-install Weak WiFi signal, bandwidth restrictions Update over stable WiFi connection
Errors during installation Connection issue, temporary glitch Force restart device and retry update
Update completely stalled Serious failure or crash Use Recovery Mode to reinstall iOS

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