Prepare your iPhone and iPad for an iOS update by clearing storage, updating apps, and freeing up space

Upgrading your iPhone or iPad to the next generation of iOS or even just a minor point increment requires preparation. Are you prepared? Here is what to do before you upgrade your iOS device.

Check the storage

Do you have sufficient storage space to download the update and install it? Some updates in the past have required 5GB of free space, which has caused problems for those with 16GB devices, or even with 32GB if you have a lot of music, photos and videos.

Go to Settings, General, Storage & iCloud Usage and look at the Available figure. You probably need to increase it if it is less than 5GB.

Check the storage usage on the iPhone and ipad

Press Manage Storage and below Used and Available is a list of apps with the largest at the top. Here you can see that Photos & Camera and Play Music use around a gigabyte each.

See which apps are using the most storage on the iPhone and iPad

Clear your photos

One way or another you must remove photos from the iPhone or iPad and recover the space they are using. You could could connect the device to the Mac or PC and transfer the photos to the computer, then they could be deleted off the phone or tablet.

Another way to free up space is to use iCloud Library. You need to pay for online storage because the 5GB you get for free in iCloud is nowhere near sufficient. However, it is very cheap for 50GB of iCloud storage.

Go to Settings, Photos & Camera and turn on iCloud Photo Library. Tick Optimise iPhone Storage. When your phone is short of space, it uploads your photos and stores the originals online, and smaller versions are held on the phone.

I am not sure it does this if you have plenty of space. It manages the space, freeing up space when it is needed rather than all the time. With iCloud Library on you photos are backed up too.

Don’t worry about photos being replaced by low res images, whenever you need the full version, such as for photo editing, it can be accessed. This saves a lot of storage space. Remember that deleted photos and videos are not really deleted, they are moved to the Recently Deleted album. Open the Photos app, select Albums at the bottom, tap Recently Deleted, select them all and delete them.

Store your photos in iCloud Photo Library on the iPhone and iPad

Clear app caches

Some apps use caches to store frequently accessed items and Google Play Music is an example. Whenever you play a track, the music is saved after being streamed so you can play it again without needing to stream it.

Open Google Play Music, go to the menu, Settings and tap Clear cache. It frees up a huge amount of space. Are there any other apps on your phone that let you clear the cache? Streaming music and video apps, photo and video editors are the ones to check.

Clear the cache in Google Play Music to free up storage space

Check for app updates

Are all your apps up to date? If apps are not up to date, you may find that some are not compatible with the iOS update, or they might not use features they could be using.

Open the App Store and press Updates at the bottom. Update all the apps.

Check for app updates on the iPhone and iPad

Now you are ready to upgrade iOS and it should proceed smoothly and without errors. If you still need more space, you might need to delete some of the bigger apps on the iPhone or iPad.

This is usually games, so return to the storage display (second screenshot) and see what is biggest and what you don’t mind deleting. You can always reinstall them after the upgrade.