Upgrade and Clean Install iOS 5 on iPhone 4, 4S, 3G, iPad, iPhone

Upgrading to iOS 5 from an earlier iOS version such as iOS 4 is a fairly simple task, but it’s also a major update, as it installs a whole new operating system, not just incremental fix updates that Apple often releases for their iDevices. This means that the update will take considerably more time, but it will be worth it because iOS 5 offers several new features, including the highly anticipated Wi-Fi sync. In today’s post we will review how to upgrade to iOS 5 from other versions of iOS.

Apple iOS 5

Here’s what you need to get started:

– iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod)

– USB cable for the device.

– iTunes installed onto your Mac or PC.


Prior to upgrading to iOS 5, it is crucial that you get the latest software updates for iTunes.

– On a Mac, this can be accomplished by clicking the Apple Logo and selecting Software Update… from the drop down menu.

Mac Install Software Update

OS X Install Software Update

– In Windows, this can be done using the path Help > Check for Updates within iTunes.

Installing the latest software update for iTunes is a very important step, and it will prevent several possible upgrade issues.

Upgrade Install

Most current iOS users will want to do an upgrade install, as it is the most simple and quickest way to get iOS 5 up and running on your device. For this tutorial, we will be using an iPhone 4. Other devices such as the iPhone 3G, iPad, and iPod Touch should follow the same procedure. Of course, if you have an iPhone 4S, it comes with iOS 5, so no upgrade needed. Here is how you upgrade to iOS 5 on your iDevice.

Start by connecting your iPhone, iPad, or iPod to your Mac or PC using the USB data cable that came with the device. Once connected, iTunes should auto launch, but if it does not, go ahead and launch iTunes. When you connect your device, iTunes will need to sync the apps, media, etcetera to the device, so wait for the sync to complete before you proceed.

Once the sync is complete, select your device from the left-side navigation pane in iTunes. It should be listed under the DEVICES section of iTunes.

From the Summary tab, under the Version section, click the button Check for Update. You may get a prompt like “Your iPhone software is up to date. iTunes will automatically check for an update again on…” Just ignore this prompt and still click the Check for Update button.

Check for iTunes Update

iTunes should find the update for iOS 5 and prompt you.

Click the Download and Update button to begin installing iOS 5 onto your device. From here, iTunes will automatically connect to the iPhone software update server and begin downloading the update.

IOS 5 Update Server

Once the download finishes, iTunes will prompt you with the initial installation screen for iOS 5. Click the Next button to proceed.


You will next need to agree to the license before proceeding with iOS 5 installation. Click the Agree button to proceed installing iOS 5.

IPhone Software Update

Once you have agreed to the licensing statement, iTunes will automatically start downloading iOS 5.

IOS 5 Downloading iTunes

You might want to go grab something to drink, because iOS 5 does not download quickly. Once the download completes, iTunes will run through various installation procedures rather quickly. Here are some screenshots of the installation progress. This all happens in a matter of seconds.

IOS 5 install 1

IOS 5 install 8

IOS install 3

IOS 5 install 4

IOS install 7

IOS install 6

IOS 5 install 8

During this process, your iDevice will restart several times. Once the phone boots back up, iOS 5 will be installed.

Note:  During installation of iOS 5, the iPhone actually completely restores itself to factory settings momentarily. In fact, if you monitored the phone during all of those reboots, you would notice that at one point, it appears as if iOS 5 has been clean installed. So, during installation, iOS 5 pretty much clean installs itself, as it erases all unneeded iOS 4 remains.

Do not disconnect your iDevice from the computer quite yet, as the device has simply installed iOS 5. Now, it will start restoring your contacts, apps, and other data.


Restore 1

Restore 2

Once the iPhone restoration is complete and all of your data is moved back to your iDevice, the iTunes activity window will become idle. Now, it’s okay to disconnect your iDevice. With iOS 5 freshly installed, you now need to complete the setup wizard for your iDevice.






Now, that iOS 5 is installed, you may notice some new apps…



Notice that there is now a dedicated Video App? iOS 5 also comes with a Facebook app, Newsstand, Reminders, and more. How did the upgrade to iOS 5 go for you? If you are encountering errors or any other install problems, leave a comment and I will try and help. Enjoy!

Comments [77]

  1. Since upgrading to iOS5 all of the free space on my phone now appears as "other" in yellow from itunes. Any idea how I would get this capacity back so as I can use it?

    1. Did you perform a backup of your phone right before upgrading? Once you clean install iOS 5, you need to immediately perform a restore of your last backup. This will bring back all your apps, music, books, photos, etc and everything will show up appropriately.

  2. I'm having the same problem as previous commenter, 1.78 gb shows up as "Other". Restored it according to instructions, still there.

  3. @Adrian Handley, @CJohannes

    Yea that seems a bit high. I checked iTunes for my iPhone, which was the phone I upgraded when writing this post, and it's at 0.33GB other, which is legit. The free space shows up as no color, empty the way it should in iTunes.

    Check your email account settings. If they are setup to save emails as local copies to the phone, that can take up space. Also, remove all of your songs, videos, and media from your phone, completely power off the phone (hold down lock button), power on, and move the files to the phone.

  4. I live in Greece and have an iphone 3G I followed your instructions but it keeps telling me that 4.2.1 is the latest ios version. What can I do?

  5. Venetia, nothing you can do. Your phone isn't supported. 3GS and up only.

  6. I updated to ios 5, and cannot transfer my custom ringtones to my iphone 4. They are in itunes, but do not sync. It may be that the sync does not complete — it looks like it goes through steps one through five, but I do not get the sync completed message.

  7. Iphone 4 with IOS5 my custom ringtones don't appear in the sound settings menu.

    How do I find them on the phone ? why is there only two tables of pings and boings or a box called "buy more tones" ?

    Why is there not a "custom tones" box which contains my ringtones.

    Itunes 10.5 shows them, and shows them as synced with the phone.

    Steve Smith.

  8. Same "other" issue – to be clear, my iphone 4 8gb shows that it has free space of 2.5 gb, but my itunes (updated to 10.5) says that my other space is 7.5GB! and that I am over capacity by 5GB. I've found the phone is running very slow as well. Please help.

  9. I will try and figure out why some iPhones are not figuring free space correctly and post about it soon. Ringtones too. Should be soon, but it's gonna be a minute before I can get it posted.

  10. When I click on each ringtone in the list, I get a message that says the ringtone could not be used because the original could not be found.

  11. I solved my problem — I deleted them from my itunes ringtones list, and redownloaded them from the website I used to make them. They synced fine, back to the contacts that had them before.

  12. Try DiskAid. You can delete all what you want. I has 6GB in others, it was photos. Now its ok.

  13. Attempted to upgrade my IPad first gen to IOS 5 but the ITunes started to backup the device and after 4 hours was barely half of the way. I have a 32 GB 3G with 15 GB free. Is this normal? I cut the process and am waiting for other people experience before trying to upgrade again. I have read some comments of people bricking their devices too.

  14. Please check back for tomorrow's post. It is all about these issues regarding the upgrade to iOS 5. Thanks for your comments.

  15. Mine had the 7.5 gigs and would not "complete" the transition. I did a few things, not sure which one actually did it. I unchecked all songs. Then I re-checked them and set my aac files again (I didn't have enough room for all of my music to begin with so the aac thing was something I was used to). I also told it to sync over wi-fi. One of those things magically shrunk it back down. FYI

  16. I just upgraded my IPhone 4 with the IOS 5 upgrade. Everything went fine until the next day. All of my ringtones that I purchased from Itunes don't show up on my Iphone 4 and and now my default ringtone was changed back to Marimba. How do I fix this? I can't see any of the ringtones that were purchased from ITunes on my IPhone 4. Also Verizone couldn't identify a fix for these problems. Any ideas??


  17. I finished installing ios 5 Earlier today, but since the install to the iphone, I no longer have any of my ringtones. I have the iphone 4, I had originally purchased the ringtones from itunes using my iphone, the ringtones are visible on itunes on my computer, but they are not on my iphone anymore. I had tried draging them from computer to the phone but that did not help, i also tried syncing with just the ringotnes checked off but that didnt work as well.

    Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

  18. I have an iPad. I attempted to install the upgrade for iTunes (10.5) prior to upgrading to iOS 5 as per iTunes. When I tried to install iTunes, I got an error message that there was a problem with the Windows Installer Package. I installed the new Windows Installer 4.5 but this did not correct the problem. Any ideas? Thank you.

  19. How do I get my ringtones on my phone? After upgrading the software, ringtones show on computer but not on phone. Purchased the ringtones from itunes

  20. i can not get ios 5 to install on iphone 4. i have the 10.5 version of itunes… ios 5 software i have downloaded – but wont install…. it gets stuck at back up??? ive tried re doing this 5 times

  21. I've upgraded to ios5 and now have 6+ gig of 'Other' maxing my phone capacity out. AND itunes isn't synching.

  22. lost my ringtones. How do I get them off iTunes and onto my iphone4 with new updated software?

  23. Through much trial and a suggestion from Mary's above comment, I solved my issue with the IOS 5 upgrade on my iPhone4.

    I moved the ringtone files from the /MyDocuments/itunes/…/ringtones to my desktop and then deleted them in itunes.

    Then, I deleted the "phantom" ringtones on the phone that were visible in itunes but not on the actual phone under "sounds".

    Then, under "file" in iTunes, choose "add file to library", and imported the very same files from the desktop folder I had created.

    Then, synch the ringtones and everything was put back the way it was. All tones assigned to the same people.

    Sometimes, you just have to trick these programs a bit. Move, Delete, Import, and Synch was the answer.

    Chef Todd Mohr

  24. I did an upgrade from iphone 4 to 4s but having problems. Now phone not working. Says I need to install the sim card to complete or do it via wifi . Im connected to wifi but phone not recognising this. Not using iphone as phone but as a ipod. (ie no sim card in use have a paid work phone which I am currently using for phone.) Phone saying to connect to itunes but when I do nothing happens. Stuck on login country, language , location services etc then nothing happens. Help!!

  25. I also lost all my ringtones. I see them on itunes though. Any idea how to get my ringtones turned into text tones?



  26. i keep trying to update through iTunes, but when i hook up my iPhone 4 to the computer and try to update it tries to backup my phone, after about a half hour it only shows about 5% complete then just disapears. then i try to start all over again. i have downloaded, just need to update now. HELP!!

  27. There seems to be a screen shot missing in this article, when I go to upgrade to ios 5 my iphone 4 gets stuck "backing up" for hours and hours and the bar barely moves. I do not see in this article where you talk about itunes backing up your phone as part of the ios 5 upgrade process. Why is my phone getting stuck "backing up"? This does not happen when I just do a force backup in itunes prior to trying to upgrade to ios 5.

  28. I have been trying to download iOS 5 on my iPhone 4 even before reading this. Everything went smoothly until suddenly after the downloading part is done it says that I cant download it due to some network setting problems. I don't know what to do… Help please….

  29. when i try to update my iphone 4 to ios 5 am getting an error message (error 3002) what should i do

  30. is there any steps or technique for a good,safe,usefull and no problems upgrade.. i want to buy an iphone 4 nxtweek… but regarding to your comments and problems in upgrading… i use to think more, because im afraid to have a problem regarding to my new iphone 4,please help me ..i want to upgade my iphone to ios5.. please help me to do that without having any problem… plz…

  31. I just updated my phone yesterday and now none of my ringtones are on my phone but I can see them in my iTunes. They are not syncing over to my phone what do I do?

  32. I have just installed the new iOS 5 , however on the lock screen the new camera symbol does not appear? Any suggestions as to why?

  33. I was having the same problem with my ringtones not syncing. I found that de-selecting the ringtones, syncing, then re-selecting the ringtones and syncing again fixed the problem. All the ringtones reappeared, and were still saved to the correct contacts. Problem solved.

  34. Did an update of my 3gs to iOS5. It said it did a backup during the process. But when it finished and I selected to restore, it restored an old backup I had from months back. Anyone who knows where it keeps the backup it makes during update? I am running iTunes on an iMac.

  35. Apparently no one from MAC knows what the hell they're doing. Support is NULL and this is all BS. Absolutely no troubleshooting skills whatsoever from any "MAC GENIUS" no such thing. Everything about my iproducts i had to discover myself. Dont expect any answer on any of this cuz MAC sux. Bought to switch my products over to a better provider. MAX STORAGE ON OTHER and no one has an answer. Just like all the other issues I have. NO ANSWERS……BOOOOOOO

  36. why do i have to download the new ios to download new ringtones? is there anyway around it?

  37. I have been trying for the last week and a half to update my iPhone 4 with the new IOS 5. I updated my iTunes first, then when I connect my iPhone 4, it gets stuck on the step “backing up Nicole’s iPhone 4 Step 1 of 6”. The last time I tried I left the iPhone plugged in for 24 hours and it was still stuck. I am using a PC with Windows XP. I end up having to unplug the iPhone and restart my computer, as iTunes freezes during this process.

  38. The download was completed but didn't make it onto my iPhone 4 though they were synced at the time. I've tried to download again but when iTunes tries to backup my phone first I'm told there isn't sufficient free space on my computer and if I continue I lose all media on my iPhone. What's happened?

  39. Maggie your steps for getting my ring tones back was the easiest and best way!!!!! Thank you sooooo much…I thought that I had lost about 50 ring tones!!!!

  40. Hi There

    I have successfully downloaded 5, however my purchased ringtones have been removed from my phone, although they are still on my iTunes account. How do I reinstall without having to repurchase them?

  41. i get an error. network timed out, and it doesn't complete the down load. we have checked our corporate network, everything ok.

    any suggestions?

  42. I am trying to update my iphone4 for a few days already and I always have this problem which says > connection timed out and network problem <

    I checked my internet connection, my cable they are all fine. Please help..

  43. samantha?ringtone is your only problem? and you figure it out..

    i have a question.. how many times u try to upgrade ur idevice to ios 5 before you succesfully got it?

    i have an iphone 4 ios 4.o.. and i want to upgrade it to ios 5…

  44. my iphone 4 is brandnew..so im scared… any suggestion? by he way im from the phillipines…

  45. Once. If you follow this tutorial step by step, you should be able to upgrade without hassle.


  47. Ever since I updated my iPhone 4, I can't add ringtones from my computer into iTunes and sync it with my phone. It says it is syncing, but when I go to my sounds in my settings, they aren't there. Any ideas?

  48. help i updated my 3gs to ios5 lost my contacts, pics, messages? cant find them!! i dont see them on itunes

  49. OP, you should take out the large bits about the iPhone 3G being supported, you are misleading people. Dumbass.

  50. THANK YOU to Maggie for the ringtone solution. Worked like a charm!

  51. Since when I have updated to iOS5 I dont get 3G anymore. And i can't start iMessaging although I can reply if someone sends me iMessage. Any suggestions? Someone told me I will have to reinstall iOS5.

  52. hi i have tried to update my iphone3 to ios5 and now all i get is no sim in phone. i am trying to use an egyptian vodafone sim and had my phone jailbreaked before i started any ideas?

  53. I am trying to install the 5.0 OS upgrade on my ipad and I get a warning message just before saying that I do not have enough space on my computer to perform the back-up and that if I continue, all of my media on my ipad will be erased. If I continue, will I be able to simply sync my ipad back to my itunes library to get all of my apps, music, books, etc back onto my ipad? Please help. I have tried to reduce my disk space but am not very computer savvy so I haven't been successful deleting enough.

  54. I recently had the same issue re: Ringtones, the fix I found was to delete existing ringtones, then under settings turn off the 'sounds locked', then transferred the ringtones back onto the iPhone4 & worked perfectly. Hope this helps?

  55. Thank you very much Chef Todd Mohr! I followed your instructions about getting my ringtones back on my iPhone and it worked perfectly.

  56. Hi everyone,

    Following are few answers of your queries:

    1. iOs5 is compatible only with iPhone 3Gs and above( NOT 3G & 2G).

    2. Adding Custom ringtones is one of the issue which is still working with…but as a backup you can use iPhone PC suite (This you can easily get from Google, and this might be in Chinese language but you can go to settings and change it to English. You can take any sound or song to create ringtones with what so ever length you want. But one drawback is whenever you will sync your iPhone with iTunes, iTunes will delete all your custom ringtones….but no issues open iPhone Pc suite again and open ringtone section wait for 2 seconds will automatically shows you that your ringtones are deleted while synchronizing with iTunes, so do you want to restore them and if yes – it will restore all your custom ringtones back on its place..!! In this PC suite you will get more like Apps, Tools like kick your iPhone out of recovery in case it is stuck and many more.. :)]

    3. Errors like 2, 4, 6, 9, 13, 14, -18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 34, 35, 37, 40, -48, -50, 1000, 1002, 1004, 1011, 1013, 1014, 1015, 1479, 1600, 1601, 1602, 1603, 1604, 1611, 1631, 1638, 1639, 2009, 3002, 3004, 3013, 3014, 3015, 3194, 3200, 9006, 9807, -9808, 9844, 4026xxxxx, You can refer to the following Apple Article:

    > http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3694

    4. In case it is not updating on 8Gb iPhone then in 1st step you need to delete all songs, videos and heavy apps, try if you can take the data backup and delete rest of everything left on your iPhone. After that if you try will install iOs5. (I Tried and it worked flawless).

    Above all information is provided to you after all practical testing and personal experiences with my own iPhone 3Gs, 4G & 4S. And all information is provided to help you NOT FOR OTHER PURPOSE.

    Hope all information will help you little to come out of your problems.


    Roy 😉

  57. After recently updating my iPhone3Gs with iOS5 , the Contacts "On My Phone" have disappeared. The "All Contacts" list is still there, but some of the contacts I use the most were within the contacts list "On My Phone". Is there a way to restore these?

  58. You need to rewrite your article. ios5 is not nor will it ever be able to run on an iphone 3g. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE BLOGGING

  59. hi ,

    i bought an iphone 4 from uk last yr which is already unlocked and jailbreaked. but its version its Ios 4.02. I dont stay in uk and back to my country. all these while its working fine. till lately apple release IOS 5. i want to upgrade but im afraid it might freeze or locked back to its original carrier. what can i do?? anyone?

  60. I upgraded my iphone4, run a backup in itunes b4, did the update connected to my mac was successful but it said it run backup and loaded it but no music or apps, texts and contacts pics etc are there. I ran the 'restore backup' afterwards but still the same, but when i try and sync to transfer apps etc from itunes it says does not associate the iphone with itunes and if u sync it will wipe everything from iphone??? wat does it wipe ?


    i have installed some of my apps manually from the apps store in account on my iphone for now, just scared to do the sync…help?

  61. If you read this before you upgrade to an iphone 4/4s…Stick with the i-phone 3gs and upgrade it to IOS 5. DO NOT UPGRADE TO IOS5.1… The 3gs with IOS5 will do just about everything the 4s will do but with better reliability. SIRI is next to useless in the UK and there’s no point in having it. Also if you upgrade to iTunes 10.5 or higher, you’ll experience connection problems. Stick with 10.1 or earlier. The iTunes 10.5 software has glitches in it but Apple refuse to acknowledge this, they blame everyone and everything but not their own software.
    If you don’t already own an iPhone, don’t bother getting one at all, get something that can connect and sync with your computer without the need of going through iTunes.

  62. My Iphone needs to be restored but its not working on my computer can I restore it at the store back to factory settings? If so how much does it cost for it to be done?

  63. I was recently given an Iphone 3gs but had to have it unlocked as it was previously locked to o2. If I install ios 5 will the unlocking be undone so it reverts back to o2? I would like some of the apps that require the update but it seems silly to pay for it to be unlocked twice….

  64. I updated the software on my iPhone 3 gs to 5.1.1 using my mac notebook with the latest version of the iTunes softare. As usual, before updating, the phone contents were backed up. However after the update, while all content was restored, all my contacts were erased. I tries restore a number of times to no avail. In fact my mac-iTunes shows backupeven earlier ones, but restoring does not bring them back. Please help as i have lost contacts which are important and i have no other back ups.

  65. Can someone please help me out? I am still reluctant to upgrade my iphone4 to the latest operating system, mainly because i have got lots and lots of contact numbers and text messages and dont know where and how to take backup for both of them? i am not bothered about applications. Please guide me jow do i take backup for contacts and messages and how will i regain them after this update?

  66. I updated my son’s Ipod, not really knowing what I was doing. As it turned out it wiped his Ipod clean. I had to reinstall all his apps. He told me some of his songs are missing. Now I’m afraid to update my Iphone 4. I have tons of pictures and tons of music that I dont want to lose. Do I absolutely need to update to iOS 5?

  67. i did that all but my contacts! I couldnt find them they are not on my iphone. how to retrieve them??

  68. I got my iphone 4 yesterday and I downloaded the newest version of itunes before I updated my phone. The update went perfect but when I went to my contacts, I noticed most of them were ran together and no longer categorized alphabetically like before. I did back up the files before I updated the software. Also, when I click on ANY of my “Contacts” or “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” I automatically get kicked out and sent back to the home screen. Can you please tell me how to fix this? I have tried restarting my phone and re-syncing it but nothing is working.

  69. Can i update my iphone 3g by the same method plzzz help

  70. can i upgrade my iphone3G with current IOS of 4.2 to IOS 5? any help? thanks…

  71. I have a iphone 4s and it keeps telling me i need to update software, but when i try it brings up the software update but it won’t download.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *