iOS OTA Updates Not Working? Here’s How to Fix Them

Nov 10, 2011 - 9 Comments

iOS OTA update

Over-the-Air (OTA) updates are one of the better refinements to iOS as part of the whole “post-PC” thing, they bring delta software updates directly to your devices, making for quicker updates and using less bandwidth (a delta update means only the differences between the iOS versions are sent, preventing a much larger package from being transferred iTunes or Apple).

Accessible from Settings > General > Software Update, if they’re not showing up for you here’s how to troubleshoot and get OTA working on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

iOS OTA Update Requirements

Make sure you fit the requirements to use the OTA delta updates.

  • Over-the-Air updates require iOS 5 or later, with iOS 5.0.1 being the first update publicly available through OTA
  • OTA updates require you to be connected to Wi-Fi, they are not available through 3G or Edge connections
  • iOS device battery life must be at 50% or greater, or the device must be connected to a power source (computer or wall)
  • Beta versions of iOS do not qualify for final OTA versions, you will need to restore to a previous version or from an IPSW file manually

If you meet all of the above and the OTA updates aren’t visible, give it a minute or two while Apple’s servers populate around the world. If you still have issues, the following three fixes will resolve the problems.

Troubleshooting OTA Updates

If you meet all of the above and an OTA update is still not showing up:

  • Turn Wi-Fi OFF and ON again, this is done through Settings > Wi-Fi > ON/OFF
  • Restart the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and plug it into a power source or computer
  • Reset Network Settings – you will lose wi-fi passwords and other network data if you choose this option, this is a last resort

Finally, if you are having timeout issues, you may be limited by Apple’s servers being overloaded. This typically only occurs during the initial moments of an iOS update, but sometimes just waiting it out can be the resolution.

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Posted by: Matt Chan in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

9 Comments

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  1. bOrg says:

    I had over 50% battery and still had to connect to the computer to install 5.0.1.

  2. Chris says:

    It just bugs me. I remember Steve Jobs saying the updates would be delta updates (basically, not the full 700+MB firmware download) specifically so that people with data caps could download without going over just for the update.

    Now that we get the feature, we have to use wifi anyways. I could’ve gotten it sooner if I had just bought my USB cable with me to school and downloaded the update there.

    – sorry for cussing, it just annoys me -

  3. Daryl says:

    I didn’t have any issues once I got home. It will show you a update is available but the download button is greyed out if you need to get on wi fi.

  4. clasqm says:

    Just did the iPad with zero problems. iPod Touch is d/ling as I write. The delta updates and OTA delivery are a vast improvement!

  5. PVi1 says:

    For those connected to internet via mobile operator:
    https://discussions.apple.com/message/16687586#16687586

  6. Drusus says:

    I was rather dubious regarding this feature, especially as I’m using an iPad 1, but went ahead, and guess what?

    Worked flawlessly, and I’m impressed with it; the ability to do updates untethered to iTunes is a huge step forward in my book, also I love the new multi-gesture feature which was omitted in iOS 5 for iPad 1.

    So one happy chappy here ;-)

  7. […] the OTA update isn’t working or is greyed out, it’s likely because the device needs to have at least half of it’s […]

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