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How to Fix iOS OTA Updates Not Working Problem

Over-the-Air (OTA) updates are one of the better refinements to iOS as part of the whole “post-PC” thing, they bring delta software updates directly to your devices, making for quicker updates and using less bandwidth (a delta update means only the differences between the iOS versions are sent, preventing a much larger package from being transferred iTunes or Apple).

iOS OTA update

Accessible from Settings > General > Software Update, if they’re not showing up for you here’s how to troubleshoot and get OTA working on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

iOS OTA Update Requirements

Make sure you fit the requirements to use the OTA delta updates.

  • Over-the-Air updates require iOS 5 or later, with iOS 5.0.1 being the first update publicly available through OTA
  • OTA updates require you to be connected to Wi-Fi, they are not available through 3G or Edge connections
  • iOS device battery life must be at 50% or greater, or the device must be connected to a power source (computer or wall)
  • Beta versions of iOS do not qualify for final OTA versions, you will need to restore to a previous version or from an IPSW file manually

If you meet all of the above and the OTA updates aren’t visible, give it a minute or two while Apple’s servers populate around the world. If you still have issues, the following three fixes will resolve the problems.

Troubleshooting OTA Updates

If you meet all of the above and an OTA update is still not showing up:

  • Turn Wi-Fi OFF and ON again, this is done through Settings > Wi-Fi > ON/OFF
  • Restart the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and plug it into a power source or computer
  • Reset Network Settings – you will lose wi-fi passwords and other network data if you choose this option, this is a last resort

Finally, if you are having timeout issues, you may be limited by Apple’s servers being overloaded. This typically only occurs during the initial moments of an iOS update, but sometimes just waiting it out can be the resolution.

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