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How Long Will the iOS 5 Upgrade Take?

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When iOS 5 finally shows up for the masses, you might want to know how long you should plan for the upgrade.

Unlike a computer OS upgrade, and iOS device won’t take hours, but it’s not like downloading and installing an app either.

Before you do the upgrade be sure to read our guide on what to do first and on how to perform the upgrade.

If you are thinking about upgrading to iOS 5 before you head in to work or before you leave for the day, make sure you have enough time, or you might have to leave without your iPhone!

Sync and Backup – 1 to 15 Minutes

iTunes will first perform a sync of your iOS device after you connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to the computer. If you haven’t performed a sync in a long time, it might take quite some time. Any content that you’ve downloaded directly on the device like music, videos, books, apps and more will take a while to copy over to the computer. Some apps also take a long time to back up to the computer. I have a couple of library apps that hold books that I need for my other job. This app alone adds five minutes to the backup process.

Transfer Purchases – 1-15 Minutes

Just to be safe, I always manually do a backup and transfer purchases before upgrading. Like syncing this time depends on how long it has been since you last performed this step.

iOS 5

Downloading iOS 5 – 15-20 Minutes Depending

The longest step in this process could be downloading the new version of iOS from Apple. Depending on your Internet connection speed, this can take quite a long time. On my cable connection and it usually takes about 15-20 minutes. Slower DSL or dial-up will take much longer. If you have FIOS or a really fast connection it might just take minutes.

Installing iOS 5 – ~10 Minutes

After the update has been downloaded iTunes will start the actual process of installing the new version on your device. In my experience this usually take about ten minutes.

Restore from Backup – 5-10 Minutes

Once complete you have a chance to set up the device as a clean device without anything on it or you can restore from the backup. If you want to have all of our apps and content just as it was before the update, do the latter. This will take another ten minutes or more depending on how much content you had on your device before the update.

How Long Does it Take to Upgrade to iOS 5?

For most users, expect to take about an hour for this process to go from start to finish. Below are the estimates based on my experience updating iPhone and the iPad over the last three years. For me the update process usually comes closer to the lower number than the higher numbers.

Initial Sync 2-3 Min
Backup and Transfer of Purchases 3-30 Min (low end)
iOS 5 Download 5-30 Min
Device Firmware Update 10-15 Min
Restoring Backup 5-15 Min
Total 25-88 Min

Start the process at least 90 minutes before you will need your phone for any critical tasks.

If you plan to buy an iPhone 4S in the next week, should you go through the bother of installing iOS 5?

Even if you only get the use of it for a couple of days, I would suggest that it will be worth the 90 minutes it could take.

First, you will be able to get access to the new tools and features. It will help you get used to your new phone.

Second, whoever will get your old phone will appreciate it much more. Handing it down to a family member or friend? They will appreciate the effort. Finally, if you are selling the phone, it may be worth more to someone if you advertise it as having iOS 5.

Kevin loves notebooks, tablets, gadgets and photography. He grew up with computers starting out on a Vic 20 and Commodore 64. The first computer he owned himself was an 8086 Compaq Deskpro. His foray into tablet computing began when he bought a Samsung Q1 Ultra. The smartphone market opened up for him with his Palm Treo 600.

119 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    10/12/2011 at 10:07 am

    … still not coming

    • Adsfadfs

      10/12/2011 at 10:12 am

      its up

      • Anonymous

        10/12/2011 at 10:17 am

        Yeah, at first I got superb speed and about half it drop to very slow speed :(

    • Wdillon869

      12/01/2011 at 12:45 pm

      I’m dl today, 15 hours. I have not the patience for this.

  2. Justin

    10/12/2011 at 10:09 am

    apple where is that f*cking update

  3. Jaret Frappier

    10/12/2011 at 10:11 am

    its here, but servers are so bogged down its taking forever to download

    • JamesFrap

      10/12/2011 at 10:21 am

      I’m downloading.  Says 40 minutes and I’m on my work’s network that can d/l at 10mps easy.

  4. Amplover

    10/12/2011 at 10:13 am

    its here!!

  5. Pete

    10/12/2011 at 10:13 am

    im downloading at a super slow speed… whats up with that ? 

    • Jaret Frappier

      10/12/2011 at 10:15 am

      It’s called stop downloading so I can get it faster… :P  Damn server overload…

    • Rsmartliving

      10/12/2011 at 7:28 pm

      Hi just to let you know I have high speed Internet and it’s taking me 10 hours.

  6. ios5

    10/12/2011 at 10:13 am

    it has been live for 10 minutes now…

  7. Sumo_1983

    10/12/2011 at 10:15 am

    Downloading iOS 5 now

  8. iOS5

    10/12/2011 at 10:15 am

    for users whose iTunes are unable to prompt you for the update, probably you are not using the previous version (4.3.5). download the old version and go to your iTunes > help > check for updates. it will prompt you the latest version of iOS 5.

    • Chelsea

      10/12/2011 at 10:27 am

      how do i do that? i have the latest iTunes (10.5) but still nothing 

  9. Jpearso

    10/12/2011 at 10:16 am

    It is live.  I downloaded it about 10 minutes ago.

  10. Dan

    10/12/2011 at 10:16 am

    Finally downloading! 18:15 GMT – London. Yay! :)

    • Mg

      10/12/2011 at 10:18 am

      REALLY SLOW 4 hours remaining to download

      • Kk26995

        10/12/2011 at 3:17 pm

        Me too….

      • John

        10/13/2011 at 6:09 pm

        Yeah it’s taking me two hours. 25-88 minutes is bull crap.

      • Sharadkandoi17

        12/02/2011 at 3:44 am

        Its been an hr and still says 4 hrs more. stopped once in between and had to start it all over again. Arghhhh!!!! Its so depressing…

  11. FD.PRO

    10/12/2011 at 10:18 am

    i have to wait 48min!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol

  12. Chelsea

    10/12/2011 at 10:24 am

    my iTunes does not say there is an update for iOS 5 !! what do i do???

    • Mg

      10/12/2011 at 10:31 am

      Did you update your itunes to 10.5?

      If yes click on your device in itunes and manually hit update

    • Carmenmaranda

      10/14/2011 at 3:26 am

      Click on check for updates wholes. Your phone is plugged up…takes a while to complete!

  13. Watdamu

    10/12/2011 at 10:24 am

    it says  6 hours …for ios 5 !!! 

    • Mg

      10/12/2011 at 10:35 am

      wtf..network connection timed out

  14. Smokinguitarist

    10/12/2011 at 10:44 am

    Do I need to sync with my main computer?  I am at work and did not bring my Macbook Pro with me. 

  15. Stage

    10/12/2011 at 10:49 am

    wow… backup has been going for about 10 minutes already, and i’m about 7% done. wtf?

    • Stage

      10/12/2011 at 10:50 am

      …I take that back, more like 5%, and hasn’t moved since my last post. Already took me an hour to download the update. This is ridiculous!

  16. Jeffequevilley

    10/12/2011 at 11:43 am

    finished the download and at the last minute it said server timed out wtf

  17. Dooey

    10/12/2011 at 11:49 am

    restoring has taken 40min….should I restart it?

  18. Phirun Cheng

    10/12/2011 at 12:19 pm

    Does anyone knows why my backing up is taking so long?
    I sync my phone almost daily so I have idea why it’s taking this long.

    • Ilovemusicpeace

      10/12/2011 at 2:23 pm

      mine is taking forever also..

    • Jhunt1216

      10/12/2011 at 8:26 pm

      so is mine

    • Devlinteboyofsheep

      10/16/2011 at 11:27 am

      Overnight – still not backed up

    • Adc Biz

      10/22/2011 at 12:03 pm

      Ditto

  19. Soxfancruz1

    10/12/2011 at 12:27 pm

    Its been backing up my phone now for over 40 minutes. Is it stuck? Should i start over? 

  20. Anonymous

    10/12/2011 at 12:45 pm

    I’m leaving it for tommorow, mainly because it 20:44 and it says I have 5 hours to wait. Just to download it.

  21. HorrorQueen

    10/12/2011 at 1:18 pm

    I’m downloading it. Got 100mb/s internet and the download says 3 hours remaining!!!

  22. Rangelsamuel

    10/12/2011 at 1:30 pm

    Mine keeps seeming like it is freezing on the backup up section

    • Sparklestar1998

      10/15/2011 at 4:23 am

      Mine has been on the backup stage for nearly an hour

  23. Buzz

    10/12/2011 at 1:30 pm

    My jailbroken 3rd gen ipod wont update. please help. it says internal error.

    • Briellejade

      10/16/2011 at 7:46 pm

      Restore it to factory setting (unjailbreak it). Back up files before you restore and then try your iOS update.

  24. Rangelsamuel

    10/12/2011 at 1:32 pm

    Anyone had any success getting there phone updated mine keeps freezing and can’t tell if it is doing anything or not.

    • Oakcrest3

      10/12/2011 at 2:08 pm

      My phone verifying iPhone restore with apple for about an hour now!!

  25. cmcfyjr2

    10/12/2011 at 2:27 pm

    Took 61 minutes to DL, it’s been backing up iPhone for 15 minutes and the meter has barely registered….at this rate it will take hours!

    • Jhunt1216

      10/12/2011 at 8:23 pm

      yea I have been staring at a little bar of green for hours

  26. Come on Apple!

    10/12/2011 at 2:31 pm

    iOS 5 still downloading started it at two 50 and it says 5 hours still

  27. Philippe Lemay

    10/12/2011 at 3:07 pm

    Mine told me it was going to take 12 hours, then after a while the ETA jumped to 24 hours, then it timed out and disconnected.  lol

    No surprise here at all.  Windows has always been horrible with iOS updates in my opinion.  about 66% the time my device completely crashes and I have to reinstall everything (iTunes included) and I lose all my data.  These days I manually back up all my contact info and my calenders, I just don’t trust iTunes to keep it safe.

  28. Dieselxx_

    10/12/2011 at 3:16 pm

    My backing up has taken over an hour…….. im still waiting

  29. Kk26995

    10/12/2011 at 3:19 pm

    4 hours reamaining????

  30. wethackrey

    10/12/2011 at 4:41 pm

    Ninety minutes would be a godsend.  My iPhone 4 is taking FOREVER.  The restore failed the first time.  Finally got the thing onto iOS5 but the “syncing music” step is moving into hour four and is about 80% complete.  So far I’m 6 1/2 hours in.  This is on a new Mac Mini, the media server machine I syn my phone to.  On a separate endeavor, updating my iPad 2 on my MacBook Pro is moving into hour three.  Pretty nuts!

  31. Petersomjit

    10/12/2011 at 5:14 pm

    It took me 30 minutes just to update to itunes 10.5 and its on a MAC pro with OS x lion and based on this effin post, I think its bs

  32. Mmartinez1503

    10/12/2011 at 5:22 pm

    Man this update says 12 hours remaining!!!!

  33. Huttell Burnett

    10/12/2011 at 5:36 pm

    ITS BEEN 4 HOURS AND IM NOT DONE YET
    AHHHHHHH

  34. Ms Briggy

    10/12/2011 at 5:57 pm

    My itunes says 6 hours!!! WTF

  35. Tucstwo

    10/12/2011 at 6:19 pm

    The most hilarious part of this article is that because of how bogged down the servers are, it’s been over 4 hours and I still only have 70% of this 700mb file! iTunes estimates 6 hours total. What a joke.

  36. Rsmartliving

    10/12/2011 at 7:33 pm

    Hello apple users for those of you who are wondering wth is going on with your ios5 update, apple has too many people down Loading their devices at the same time and the server can barley handle it! Apple is working on it! My download has taken a good 10 hours.

  37. Dorner96

    10/12/2011 at 8:05 pm

    I’m just trying to dowload the IOS 5 to my IPod Touch 4G, but i an not having much luck, as well it is taking FOREVER!!!

    • Sparklestar1998

      10/15/2011 at 4:27 am

      Same here.. download took 15 minuites but the back up of my Ipod Touch 4G is still doing it and has been for over an hour

  38. Mars1216

    10/12/2011 at 8:16 pm

    my backup of my iPhone is lasting 4 hrs

  39. jhunt1216

    10/12/2011 at 8:20 pm

    I have been backing up my iPhone for 3 hours and only a little green in the box and it does not look like it is moving

  40. H Montavia

    10/12/2011 at 8:29 pm

    My pc says 6 hours lololol i need it before 6:30 tommorow morning lol school

  41. jhunt1216

    10/12/2011 at 8:48 pm

    now my back up stopped but it did not update the software

  42. Kayjbebout13

    10/12/2011 at 9:10 pm

    33 hours to update my iphone wtf??????what is going on i cant wait 33 hours for this to download please help

    • JJ Castro Jr

      10/23/2011 at 1:00 am

      Really, WOW you know I left it downloading for 16 hours and got fed up with it so I had to take out. Now, I left it for 12 hours and It’s very frsutrating. Is it the internet connection or the servers from apple?

  43. yerich

    10/12/2011 at 11:49 pm

    I think that it will take several more hours and a lawyer to read through the battery of user agreements.

  44. Austin Cooper

    10/13/2011 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Folks, my Iphone 3gs has been restoring iphone software after ios 5 upgrade for nearly 3 hours and is only a third of the way through – can anyone confirm if this is normal?

    • Barrylew

      10/14/2011 at 11:06 am

      My 16Gig iPad 1 has been running the update for over 3 hours. It is now into the restore phase and I estimate another 3 hours. The Ipad has a pretty full hard drive but this backup and restore speed is unacceptably slow

  45. Tyler

    10/13/2011 at 6:06 pm

    Ha I wish. I took me 2 hours just to download it onto my desktop. I still have yet to install it into my iPad.

  46. James

    10/13/2011 at 10:32 pm

    5 hours so far and still no end in sight!

  47. Lolateehee

    10/14/2011 at 3:12 am

    I waited four hours for it to Dowoad and nothing happened.

  48. James

    10/14/2011 at 4:17 am

    13 hours later, it tells me that that the back up session failed

  49. Kamran_malik123

    10/14/2011 at 2:26 pm

    im dying here about to pass out nw

  50. Pak00786

    10/14/2011 at 2:31 pm

    if u want update put ur luee in the air

  51. Raul_sinzz

    10/14/2011 at 3:39 pm

    hey people its sayin restoring firmware n it goin on for ages wat to do?

  52. Beck

    10/15/2011 at 8:27 am

    Man it sucks to be you guys, I just downloaded the whole update in 10 minutes. SHER HOPE THE RE-STORE GOES THAT FAST

  53. Jasonlrothfeld

    10/15/2011 at 1:17 pm

    I tried it on my ipad 2 it said 4 hours and then 4 hours came by nothing not much progress. After 6.5 hours it said the network was down. I  have comcast/Xfinity and it is horrible so I blame comcast. But where I am we cant get verizon and the only other was optimum and they are horrible.

  54. Cease

    10/16/2011 at 11:43 am

    The download of the Itunes and to download the ios 5 was pretty fast… Now I am still waiting for the back up session… it looks like it froze… i barely see a little bit of the green bar… its been almost half an hour… does this happen to u? thanks,

  55. Klakjw1

    10/16/2011 at 6:55 pm

    I just want to say that 90 minutes is not long enough. U should let it update overnight because it is telling me that it will tale about 7 hours. It took about 6 to update iTunes. Although my backup was quick. Why would you get a new phone if u updated your old one. It will be pretty much the same thing. That seems like a waste of money to me.

  56. Tammymont

    10/18/2011 at 7:25 pm

    it says mine is gonna take NINE HOURS!!!!! THATS INSANE! NINE HOURS?!

  57. footdoctor

    10/19/2011 at 10:06 am

    Just got a new iPad2 – early xmas present! :-) Downloading iOS5, I know it will take a long time but since it’s my first time I’m just worried it’s not working. Is it normal for it to be showing the apple logo & intermittently bleeping, giving a glimpse of a screen saying iPad. Also it no longer shows up on iTunes as a device!

  58. Casey

    10/19/2011 at 8:40 pm

    It took about 5 hours for me.

  59. JJ Castro Jr

    10/23/2011 at 12:56 am

    I’m currently downloading the IOS 5 and It’s damn frustrating. I left it for 12 hours now and still syncing!! I dont know If It’s the internet speed connection or problem with the Itunes. I had the new 10.5 version of the Itunes installed. Can anyone give me an advice about this issue or are you all going through the same problem?

  60. Liezlvzyl

    10/25/2011 at 6:34 am

    Trying to download IOS 5 saying 8 hours remaining and I have adsl line :(

  61. Thesteveo187

    10/27/2011 at 6:37 am

    Waste of time – Why can’t the competitors just come out with a decent copy of the i-phone – Apple updates are always a screw up!!

  62. Lynne_aB_o_O

    11/07/2011 at 12:04 am

    Sixteen hours and counting. Not very happy with this, means I’ll have to leave it running while I go out today :(

  63. Lancem_13

    11/07/2011 at 8:41 pm

    Why does it say 51 HOURS remaining?! And then it keeps stopping and saying error?! So frustrating!!!!

  64. Desdrl

    11/30/2011 at 2:02 am

    Crap took me 5 hours, and my iphone apps were not restored to their previous state. I lost 4 weeks of medical app data. All this even tho i backed up before the update.

  65. Gret-john

    12/21/2011 at 6:24 pm

    Perhaps 5th time is a charm?  Is it really supposed to take DAYS to updgrade to the 5.0 version on the I Pad?  No idea what I’m doing wrong…

  66. saren

    01/01/2012 at 3:35 am

    mine is stuck at the backup for more than 5 hours now..any way to speed it up? i am using 3gs btw

  67. Ryan_2009_48

    01/01/2012 at 3:45 pm

    It’s been backing up for 3 hours. This is dumb.

  68. Crlmom23

    01/05/2012 at 8:25 am

    Literally took all day. I started the process at 9am and it finished at 5:30pm. Updated my calendar and tried to resync – had to stop it after 2.5 hrs.

  69. Pam

    01/18/2012 at 9:53 am

    This issue has gone on for a long time.  I myself have tried this update for my ipad 10-12 times.  I always get timed out.  Even apple care not helpful.  Anybody got any ideas?

  70. Tfehler

    01/27/2012 at 12:31 pm

    so far it has taken 3 hours, and that was to get to a state with all my music and apps completely stripped off.  It said it would put them back on as part of the restore, but now i have to redo that all manually.  Apple sucks!

  71. Kaushik Bhattacharya

    01/28/2012 at 3:50 am

    Well my download got over properly in less than an hour but the story of back up process is going on, just an hour over and the status bar taking its own sweet time, God knows when would it be over, and what would be the outcome ?? Hope everything remains fine !!

  72. Kristal

    02/04/2012 at 1:47 am

    How big is the actually update??

  73. Caitlinisnotonfire

    02/05/2012 at 10:05 am

    25-88 minutes?! Mine has been on for 2 hours and it’s still got 23 minutes left! ._.

  74. Dee4505

    02/10/2012 at 2:12 pm

    started 1 hr ago …….and still 4 hrs to go.  This is my 3rd attempt. Keep losing connection…what the heck is going on with this software update?

  75. Helenroberts2010

    02/24/2012 at 7:51 pm

    had to stop my back up after 15 hours.  Have re-started the back up again but looks like it might take a good few hours again.  Can an assistant at an apple store not do this quicker for you?  really frustrating…

  76. Shenaalnonis

    02/26/2012 at 9:15 am

    iTunes says “Verifying iPhone restore with Apple” and its been like this for over an hour! Took 2 hours to download the update, 30 minutes to backup,etc and now im stuck! Should i disconnect or will that screw up my iPhone 3GS? =( Please help me!

  77. Crazy_little_whitegirl23

    04/03/2012 at 6:40 pm

    mine says 24 hours holy cow this is not cool at all….

  78. Emmy0148

    04/30/2012 at 11:37 am

    still more 9hours to go after 5hours. this is a shirt

  79. frustrated mum

    05/13/2012 at 3:17 am

    We have been going for 7 hours is this normal??? as a parent trying to keep up with modern technology all i can say is go back to cd’s a whole lot easier

  80. Keith

    05/13/2012 at 9:52 pm

    90 minutes? No way! Been at it like 16 hours and it’s not done yet. Be prepared for a multi-day ordeal! By the way my Android OS update took like five minutes – just like installing an app!

  81. mimogesa

    05/17/2012 at 4:54 am

    wow really 90 mins.? that sucks..mine is still not finished & it’s been 5 hours already? i guess it really has something to do with the contents of my phone…i”ve used almost 10 Gb in my iphone..oh well i guess i still have to wait..

    i never thought it would take more than 90 mins. to update.

  82. Joe

    06/02/2012 at 3:49 pm

    It is almost 2 days. My computer was continuously busy to back up! Oh, just for this Upgrade, my PC can go FUCKED UP! Apple is a fucked up company. They produced iPhone what cant work without their own Mac. But, a cheating technique iTunes for Windows they have! How much really efficient iTunes? to load 235 MB Music from a Sony Vaio, it takes 15 hours! Tomorrow i will put my motherfucking iPhone in ebay. If I find Steves Jobs, i will kick his ass. A real asshole!

    • Mike

      06/24/2012 at 11:05 pm

      Steve Jobs died?

      • Chanclas

        07/27/2012 at 2:26 pm

        Good.

  83. Alex

    06/05/2012 at 9:19 am

    Mine is going to take “170 hours” that’s what the notifier says.
    If i leave mine on over night 8:00p.m. – 7:00a.m. it get’s 1/8 of the way done. RIDICUOLOUS!!!!!!!!!

  84. happy tree friends

    06/17/2012 at 5:30 pm

    finally finished after 9hrs now time for a nap

  85. juma matiki

    06/18/2012 at 2:35 am

    its frustrating updating this software Apple should do something about it takes longer than expected

  86. Steve

    07/22/2012 at 9:59 pm

    Everybody has been referring to an approx download time that the system was providing you. I’m hearing all of these horrific number of hours. My problem is that I don’t know if it is even doing anything at all. All I see is a little popup box in the middle of the screen that says, “Contacting the iPhone software update server.

    Does that mean that it hasn’t even been able to connect to the server to start the download process. Its been sitting on this same screen for about 6 hours. I am updating a 3GS iOS to the 5.1. If it really takes 5,10,15,20 hours to complete like some of you are saying, then that’s what it is and I’ll have to deal with it. I just don’t want to wait for nothing if it hasn’t even started it yet. Where does it tell you how much time is left for the download. I can’t find that information. Can anyone help.

  87. AbbasAdejonwo

    08/23/2012 at 12:15 pm

    That’s is a complete and utter LIE!! I am performing the software update at this minute, and it says that it should take just over an hour so in total it is much longer than what is stated.

    • AbbasAdejonwo

      08/23/2012 at 12:18 pm

      It now says 2 bloody hours. P.S. I am downloading iOS 5.1.1. which only has a few more perks than iOS 5. Any decent, truthful help would suffice within the next 40 minutes.

  88. pems

    01/10/2013 at 1:08 pm

    its taking me more than 20 hours to down load ios6. wtf

  89. pems

    01/10/2013 at 1:14 pm

    is it ok to upgrade from ios 4 to ios 6 straight away?

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