Can’t Download iOS 5.1? Try These Fixes

Mar 9, 2012 - 80 Comments

IPSW iOS 5.1 was released a few days ago but some people are still having problems when trying to update. The download can time out, not start at all, or sometimes throw an error message saying “Unable to Check for Update. An error occurred while checking for a software update.” or “The network connection could not be established.”

If you’re having trouble downloading iOS 5.1 from Apple’s servers, try these fixes:

  • Reset Network Settings on iOS Device: Tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
  • Clear Hosts File: Look at your hosts file for anything blocking Apple’s servers and comment them out, this is mostly relevant to jailbreakers and if you see “Error 3194
  • Change DNS Servers: Adjusting DNS on either the computer you are downloading from or iOS device if using OTA can resolve the issue, instructions on how to do so are below

Changing DNS seems to be the most reliable method, here is how to do so in iOS and OS X.

Changing DNS in iOS

  1. Tap on Settings, tap on “Wi-Fi”, and tap on the blue arrow next to the router name
  2. Under “DHCP” tab tap on “DNS” and replace with: “8.8.8.8” for Google DNS, or “208.67.222.222” for OpenDNS
  3. Tap the Back button and attempt to use OTA again

Change DNS in OS X

  1. Open System Preferences from the Apple menu
  2. Click on “Network” and then click on ‘Advanced’ in the lower right corner
  3. Click the “DNS” tab and then add a new DNS server by clicking the “+” icon, adding either “8.8.8.8” for Google DNS or “208.67.222.222” for OpenDNS
  4. Drag the newly added DNS server to the top of the list, click “OK” then close out of System Preferences

On a Mac you may need to follow this up with flushing DNS cache, so open the Terminal and type the following:

dscacheutil -flushcache

Now try opening iTunes and updating, or try to download iOS 5.1 firmware directly from Apple again.

An unrelated but pleasant side effect of changing DNS can be that your wi-fi speeds increase, give it a try and let us know if it works for you.

Thanks to Aygie and Sayed for the DNS tips!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

80 Comments

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  1. Sky says:

    iOS 5.1 u can now use iTunes Match over 3g instead of wifi only. AWESOME

  2. Sarah says:

    Wonderful! Tried the fix for DNS in IOS and it worked like a charm. WiFi speed also is improved. Thank You!!!

  3. Jason Weaver says:

    Amazing. That’s truly useful advice. I’ve been trying to download for days and assumed the servers were hammered. This fixed the problem instantly. Thank you!

  4. Alex says:

    Nope didn’t work! I am from the UK. I guess everyone is on there trying to up date their software.

  5. GreatBoo says:

    Any tips on updating the Apple TV?

  6. Lukum says:

    Yep amazing, resetting the network and reconfiguring the DNS as suggested worked like a charm for me (Switzerland).
    I quite don’t get how such an odd issue can happen though, Apple’s very strange sometimes.

  7. meewosh says:

    It helped me as well in Poland. Thanks a lot for the tips.

  8. Joi says:

    Tried changing the DNS on my wifi and it worked like a charm! Been at this for 3 days. Resetting the network settings didn’t work.

  9. timoby2k says:

    AMAZING!!! I have been trying everything.. at first I thought it was something with my iphone, but after trying my ipad and having several of my friends try and fail to update I just figured the server was overloaded..

    and oddly enough I have been googling this and not found anything relevant; my device wasn’t jailbroken and I hadn’t changed any settings.

    Very strange indeed though, I tried resetting network settings first, but changing the DNS(even though I was a little hesitant, to be honest I wasn’t sure what that was) did the charm.

    hopefully apple gets this fixed, not everyone should have to do this in order to update their devices..

    and yes….. wi-fi does seem faster. Thank you! :)

  10. Roger C says:

    Thanks so much it was the DNS setting and its downloading now .Again thanks

  11. John says:

    Thank you :)

  12. Perrier says:

    Thank you so much! I live in Singapore and had been trying for the past few days too and only your tip on DNS works for mine.

    By the way, do I need to change back to the original DNS or leave it as 208.67.222.222? (I totally have no idea what the numbers represent….)

  13. Ben Sellers says:

    Legend. Has been bugging me for days. Works a treat, though can’t believe this was necessary. Apple should sort this out for joshmo. Many thanks.

    Should I change the DNS back from 8.8.8.8 or can I leave like that once downloaded?

    Many thanks for your help
    Ben

    • lori says:

      it appears to have worked! i just found out that those numbers are placed there automatically when you sign in to your router. i just checked and i see that you don’t have to change anything back. they are placed there automatically when you choose your network.

  14. razmarino says:

    cool! changing dns to 8.8.8.8 fixes the problem instantly! thx!

  15. Tom says:

    Worked like a charm for me too. Had been trying this for days. Thanks very much. (p.s. from UK).

  16. Sergey says:

    flushing DNS cache helped me to update.

  17. Mark says:

    I am in the United States (St. Louis, MO) and use Charter Cable for high speed Inernet (a large company), but even after following the instructions here, I cannot update to iOS 5.1. I’m on an iMac running OS X Lion and have iOS 5.01 on my iPhone 4. So angry with Apple right now. I may be trading in for an Android device this week.

    • Jim says:

      I, too, live in the St Louis area, use Charter, and am running Lion. I tried several times to upgrade my iPhone 4 to iOS 5.1 using iTunes and Wi-Fi with NO success. I was successful updating my wife’s iPhone using iTunes running on a Windows PC, connected to Charter via W-Fi!! So I tried updating my wife’s iPAD using Wi-Fi — no success. I connected the iPAD to her PC, and it upgraded. I eventually was successful upgrading my iPhone using Wi-Fi, but was connected to ATT. All this makes NO SENSE. Could the problem be with Charter, not Apple??

  18. Mike says:

    Worked Great !!!!!!!
    Have been trying for days to update and this sorted it out in 2 mins

    Thanks

    Mike
    Newcastle Australia

  19. Luke Marsh says:

    worked for me straight away by changing DNS, thank you :)

  20. Matthew Rowe says:

    Wow! That worked like a charm. I added the new DNS and flushed the cache and bam! Update! Thanks for putting an end to so many days of frustration!

  21. Joe says:

    Added the Google DNS and flushed the DNS Cache. Got it Downloading instantly. Its been a couple of days looking at the “contacting iPhone servers” and nothing. Until now! Thank you…

  22. Steve says:

    Thought it was the servers, couldn’t get it to load on wi-fi or hardwire to iTunes. Changed the DNS and a few min.s later both iPhone and iPad updated.
    Thanks.

  23. Tzo says:

    Changing DNS in iOS

    Tap on Settings, tap on “Wi-Fi”, and tap on the blue arrow next to the router name
    Under “DHCP” tab tap on “DNS” and replace with: , or “208.67.222.222″

    Awesome Thanks!

  24. Bonnarith says:

    I had failed for several day of updated. But now It also greatly Updated in Cambodia after change DNS to 8.8.8.8.

    Thank you so much.

  25. Franjo says:

    Works perfectly with DNS changing…

  26. chinita says:

    Works really great!! I was trying to update for couple of days now but this did the trick! Just follow the instructions and wala!

  27. chinita says:

    Works really great! I was trying to update for a couple of days until I found this page. Just follow the instructions and wala! Everything fix!

    Thank you!

  28. Jen says:

    Thanks, changing the dns to 8.8.8.8 worked like a charm!

  29. Raj says:

    8.8.8.8 worked gre8t !!!!

    Thanks !!!

  30. Weng says:

    resetting networks settings and changing DNS to 8.8.8.8 as instructed. Problem cleared!

    It works

    (from MACAO)

  31. iouone says:

    i did the resetting networks and changed dns to 8.8.8.8 on iphone 4s and it worked. However, when i do the same for my ipad 2, i keep getting the same error message as before.

    Something about network failure da da da da etc etc etc yada yada. Any more help of this would be great and thanks for the fix on iphone.

  32. Sue says:

    DNS changed to OpenDNS and it’s now downloading (UK). Thank you so much :-)

  33. ChrisLeeburn says:

    Hi I’m in exactly the same boat as u, av u figured out how to fix it yet? Tried everything an nothin seems to be workin

  34. yasm says:

    Thank you. I only changed DNS to 8.8.8.8 on iPhone 4s and Lion. Worked perfect in CZ (EU). ;-)

  35. Aidan says:

    Tried changing DNS and flushing cache using both DNS addresses but still getting the timed out and ‘check network settings’ messages. Not tech minded but if my ISP address as used in my router and airport is different from DNS then how does this work. Either way still can’t download ios5.1 and internet working fine in every other way

  36. Jeff says:

    OTA works, brilliant!

  37. Pekae says:

    Perfect! Works a treat – and speeds up too! Thanks

  38. Jeff says:

    Changed the DNS to 8.8.8.8 and it’s downloading now.I am in Tanzania

  39. Joan Freed says:

    Brilliant. Thank you.

    Non-techie

  40. Alan says:

    I have been struggling with this for a week. A simple google search and I found myself here. Worked like a charm. Thanks.
    Alan

  41. michel says:

    werkt perfect, loop al dagen te klooien om de iphone 4s te up-daten.

    nu dns omgezet naar 8.8.8.8 en voila, het werkt.

    was dat nou zo moeilijk?

  42. vicky says:

    great… thank you… changing the dns, it worked…
    i m n india and bought this factory unlocked 4s from usa…

  43. Theo says:

    Thanks much 8.8.8.8 worked great and b4 that I tried a milion times!!!!!!

  44. jbv prasad says:

    thanks a ton
    i am from bangalore India and your tip worked wonders.
    thanks to Aygie and Sayed

  45. Shair says:

    Holland here, it works!!! Thanks alot!

  46. Al says:

    I tried setting the iPad DNS, that didn’t work. Only when I did the adjustment to the Mac did it download. 20 minutes remaining. GRIN

  47. Mark Pearce says:

    Ipad2 64 Gb Wi-Fi. Been struggling for some days (assuming that Apple’s iOS 5.1 update servers were swamped, like many other peeps) until found this site/page.
    THANK YOU so much, guys. Puzzled me as my iPod Touch 4G 32Gb updated fine to iOS 5.1 on my other Mac, thru same router.
    Why on earth didn’t I find this page/tip sooner Doh! But so glad I found it eventually. An AWESOMELY useful tip. Already bookmarked the site. Thank you.

  48. gvg says:

    Mac version 10.6.8
    IPhone 4S

    Reset Network Settings on iPhone
    Changed DNS to the Google 8.8.8.8
    And flushed chache

    Update practically started on it’s own after doing this things. Thanks :)

  49. Jim says:

    The 8.8.8.8 worked perfectly. Thank you very much!
    Verizon iPhone 4 16g

  50. John says:

    I have:
    iPhone 4s / Charter Wi-Fi

    Over the air updates would not work for me until I changed DNS to 8.8.8.8. Now it’s downloading !!

    But doesn’t it seem odd to anyone that we have to change any settings at all to get this to work?? Shouldn’t it “just work” like what apple products are known for?

    Everyone seems so excited that this works but it actually makes bothers me a little because this means that it wasn’t apple’s servers being overloaded it just means that OTA updates on iOS devices are not just as simple as clicking a button that says “update” or “install”. At least I think that is what this all means. But I don’t know a whole lot about all of this either.

    I don’t really understand what changing the DNS to 8.8.8.8 actually changes. Does anybody know?? Does it make the iphone connect to the router differently? Or does it have your ISP route your data through different servers or something? Is there any chance that this could open up any security holes or vulnerabilities to my iPhone?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated,
    Thanks,
    John

  51. John says:

    Sorry for the grammatical errors above. I did not proof-read it very well before posting. I hope it makes enough since to understand.

    Instead of “it actually makes bothers me a…”
    I meant ” it actually bothers me a…”

  52. Jet says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’ve spent days trying to get pat the contacting server message. I flushed the cache and changed the DNS just like you said and it worked perfectly! I was so glad I found your site before paying apple $30 to ask them a question.

  53. Tim says:

    Worked great after days of thinking Apples server was overloaded.

  54. Mico says:

    Hi… Thank you for the tip… I was able to update my phone by changing the DNS.

  55. Dred111 says:

    Was a bit hesitant to change the DNS from my iPhone. But sure enough it did the trick. Thank you so much

  56. Andrew says:

    Can anyone explain why this ridiculous issue has become so wide spread? Is it Apple? This has been bugging me since last week, and I would really like to know why this has happened. Thanks.

  57. Waterdragon says:

    Hello from OZ. For God’s sake Apple, why do we have to go through all this to get our update. This is not fair. Nothing works in my household for days including original iPad, Apple TV 2, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S. I’m scared to try changing the DNS as I don’t understand why and what I’m doing it, but to keep my sanity I think I have to bite the bullet very soon. Thanks everybody.

  58. Brad says:

    Replacing the DNS with 8.8.8.8 totally worked! Thanks for that!

  59. crow says:

    From Malaysia,
    My i phone had no probs but my iPad 2 just refused to update. Changing to 8.8.8.8 worked like a charm
    Thanks guys

  60. Matt Bieneman says:

    None of these “fixes” has any effect on the problem for my iPhone 4S. Various levels of “reset” have also had no effect. I updated two other iOS devices with no problem whatsoever; they both updated on the first try. They had identical network settings, so it is obviously not a problem with any network settings. It is apparently not a problem with busy servers, either. I have tried my iPhone at least 50 times at all times of the day and night, with no effect. Both of the other iOS devices updated immediately, on the first try, during times of the day when I would expect the servers to be busiest.

    • Cory says:

      I’m in the same boat. I just finished trying every one of these methods and I’m still unable to download the update on mac or my iphone 4s. Tried all times day and night as well.

      :(

  61. Jeff says:

    Thank you. it works just fine…

  62. Doug says:

    None of these fixes worked on my iphone4 or ipad or ipod touch. I resorted to completely erasing everything and setting it back to factory defaults. Do not connect to itunes, but restore it as a new device. After it has been restored and set up again, then change the dns settings and try it on wi-fi. This is the only way I could get my devices updated.

  63. Richy says:

    If perhaps you may have a 4th generation iPod touch that is jailbroken and is at ios 5.0.1 could the Jailbreak be the problem that it is not updating?

  64. Seven says:

    I’m from Taiwan. After upgrading to ios5.1, my network can’t work at all. I can receive call and sending SMS. I’m trying to reset my networkig and even Took out the simcard and insert again, but still same. So can teach me how I going to fix this problem? It’s kinda frustrated.

  65. Micah says:

    Hi, iPhone 4 here. Have tried every possibility listed and still says an error has occurred. It does say the update is downloaded to my phone but says error has occurred with the installation process. Any other ideas? Surely I’m not the only phone in the world that happens to have no solution!! Thanks!! :)

  66. Eriqa says:

    You change the DNS and not the router right? update still doesn’t work for me.

  67. jimmy says:

    Hey everyone , how i clear my hosts files ??

  68. Darreck says:

    When I tried to do the new update, it downloaded, but I got the “software update failed”. Problem was my phone had already started the process. So my phone is locked on the cord showing to plug in to iTunes (even though it already is) and a hard reset just goes right back to that display… I can’t do anything with my phone. please help.

  69. Gavin says:

    Just remember to change back the DNS settings when it’s finished. Otherwise your Internet could slow down because your local ISP routes traffic to local cache servers to speed up your Internet experience using DNS. Things like unmetered traffic with some ISP’s may not work when using Googles DNS since it will send you to US based servers instead of local cache’s.

  70. Punjab says:

    Hey everybody, right now I m using iOS 5.0.1 that is jail broken and I want to update to iOS 5.1 but I m not able to do it software update not available on my phone and when I try to update it manually it get some error 3194 and 1015. Any help will be great full I am using iPhone 4…

  71. […] the DNS Cache but I don't really understand it nor whether it's applicable to my situation. Can’t Download iOS 5.1? Try These Fixes Any advice/help would be appreciated, thanks. [ konni … foot on mouse; keyboard in mouth ] […]

  72. arslan says:

    can any one khow how to solve error 3194.i have change hosht file but it not work for me.also i have delete cydia from phone but when i re install it say already jailbreak how to solve this .plz help

  73. Someone says:

    This did not help me at all. Not to be negative.

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