How Long Will the iOS 5 Upgrade Take?

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.


    • JamesFrap says

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

  1. iOS5 says

    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.

    • Mg says

      Did you update your itunes to 10.5?

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

    • Carmenmaranda says

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

  2. Smokinguitarist says

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

    • Stage says

      …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!

  3. Soxfancruz1 says

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

  4. Anonymous says

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

  5. HorrorQueen says

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

    • Briellejade says

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

  6. Rangelsamuel says

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

  7. cmcfyjr2 says

    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!

  8. Philippe Lemay says

    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.

  9. wethackrey says

    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!

  10. Petersomjit says

    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

  11. Tucstwo says

    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.

  12. Rsmartliving says

    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.

  13. Dorner96 says

    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 says

      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

  14. jhunt1216 says

    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

  15. Kayjbebout13 says

    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 says

      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?

  16. yerich says

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

  17. Austin Cooper says

    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 says

      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

  18. Tyler says

    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.

  19. Beck says

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

  20. Jasonlrothfeld says

    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.

  21. Cease says

    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,

  22. Klakjw1 says

    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.

  23. footdoctor says

    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!

  24. JJ Castro Jr says

    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?

  25. Thesteveo187 says

    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!!

  26. Lynne_aB_o_O says

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

  27. Lancem_13 says

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

  28. Desdrl says

    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.

  29. Gret-john says

    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…

  30. saren says

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

  31. Crlmom23 says

    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.

  32. Pam says

    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?

  33. Tfehler says

    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!

  34. Kaushik Bhattacharya says

    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 !!

  35. Caitlinisnotonfire says

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

  36. Dee4505 says

    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?

  37. Helenroberts2010 says

    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…

  38. Shenaalnonis says

    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!

  39. frustrated mum says

    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

  40. Keith says

    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!

  41. mimogesa says

    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.

  42. Joe says

    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!

  43. Alex says

    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!!!!!!!!!

  44. Steve says

    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.

  45. AbbasAdejonwo says

    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 says

      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.

Leave a Reply