iOS 11 will be released on Tuesday, September 19, meaning you don’t have much time to get your device ready if you are planning to upgrade immediately.

In this article, I’m going to give you a couple of tips before you perform the upgrade. After upgrading several devices every year for the last five or six years, I’ve come up with a set of steps that ensure I upgrade in the smoothest possible way.

If you want to know about all the new features in iOS 11, check out this article from Apple. As usual, it’s not a whole lot of useful features, especially if you have an older iPhone where half the features don’t work.

Step 1 – Wait Before Upgrading

Yes, the new version of iOS is out and your phone keeps telling you to update, but you shouldn’t! I have found that just about every time a new version of iOS is released, there are a flurry of reports in the first days about problems with the battery, crashing, running out of space, and all kinds of other stuff.

Usually, Apple gets on this quickly and releases a fix within a few weeks. I would wait a week and see if there are any major complaints out there on the web. If there’s nothing major being reported on all the Apple news sites, then it’s safe to upgrade.

The other big reason to hold off upgrading is that not all app developers update their apps before the release date to support the latest iOS. That’s actually been my biggest gripe about upgrading too early. Usually only after two or three months do all my apps work well with the latest iOS. Otherwise, you’ll notice apps crash when you try to open them or crash when you are using them.

Step 2 – Check Device Compatibility

Of course, Apple always drops a model or two from support when it releases a new version of iOS. With iOS 11, you’ll want to check the device compatibility to make sure your device can upgrade.

Step 2 – Backup Your Device

Next, you want to make sure you backup your device fully. This is super important because any number of things could go through during the upgrade process.

If you end up with a crashing or half-working phone, it’ll be really nice to simply restore a backup and have your phone working again. I’ve already written a post on how to backup your Apple device to iTunes and iCloud. I suggest you backup to both places just to be safe.

Step 3 – Choose Whether to Clean Install

Whenever upgrading to a new version of iOS, I always sit down to decide whether I want to go ahead and perform a clean install rather than just upgrading the phone.

Why care? Well, if you have noticed your phone running slower than when you first bought it, then chances are things are starting to go downhill. For instance, sometimes it’ll take several seconds after tapping before the Settings app will open. Sometimes nothing will happen for a while after pressing the Home button.

In those instances, performing a clean install usually gets rid of those pesky sluggishness issues. At least for a while. However, there are two ways to perform a clean install:

  1. Format with restore – This is probably the more common method. You wipe your phone, then install the latest version of iOS and then perform a restore of your backup.
  2. Format with no restore – Using this method, you upgrade to the latest version of iOS and then reformat and start from scratch by re-download apps, etc. Alternatively, you can use iTunes and simply upgrade and erase all content at the same time. I’ll be posting articles on how to do this over the next few days.

The only major downsides with clean installs without restoring backups is that you lose all your messages and all your health data. All that info is stored in encrypted iTunes or iCloud backups, but won’t come back onto your device unless you perform a restore.

It’s worth noting that erasing and then doing a restore still cleans things up more than if you just upgrade directly without erasing the phone.

Step 4 – Upgrade & Remove Apps

If you don’t plan on doing a clean install and you don’t plan on waiting, then you should make sure to upgrade all your apps to the latest version before you update iOS.

In addition to updating apps, you should also delete any apps that you no longer use. The more apps you have, the greater chance some apps will be incompatible with the latest version of iOS.

This can cause all kinds of problems in the background and really slow down your phone or cause it to behave oddly.

Step 5 – Increase Free Space

It looks like iOS 11 will need about 2 GB of storage space in order to be downloaded. If you don’t have 2 GB of free space, all is not lost. Don’t start deleting apps right away or anything.

Apple has a new feature that will ask you if it can remove some apps, download iOS, update the phone and then reinstall the apps. If you don’t get this message, then you’ll have to upgrade using iTunes.

If you upgrade using iTunes, you don’t have to download the entire software update to your phone. Instead it downloads to your computer and then updates it. That means you can have very little free space and still upgrade.

There are lots of ways to free up space on your Apple device. Recently, I wrote a post on my other site about reducing the amount of space WhatsApp takes on your phone. I’ll be writing more space saving tips on this site soon too.

I’m excited about iOS 11 because it has added some improvements to the storage screen in settings so now you can simply tap a button to free up space. If you have any questions about getting your device ready for the upgrade, post the comments here. Enjoy!