Updating your iPhone’s operating system is an important and routine maintenance procedure. This article explains how to fix an iPhone software update that’s stuck.
The iPhone is a remarkable device. It’s much more than just a phone. It’s a computer that fits in your pocket. The iPhone’s portability has made it essential to everyday life for many people. As an iPhone user, it’s in your best interest to use the latest and greatest version of iOS. Keeping your iOS software up to date is usually an easy task, however, sometimes your iPhone’s software update process gets stuck.
Why Does My iPhone’s Software Update Get Stuck?
There’s a variety of reasons why the iOS update process can halt. Sometimes this is because your iPhone isn’t plugged in to a charger. To further confuse users, no message is displayed informing why the update has stalled. The update screen simply displays “Requesting Update”, but nothing happens. The update process is stuck.
If you are updating iOS the day a new version is released, Apple’s data center could be the culprit. Their servers are usually slammed with requests when a new version of iOS launches.
There could also be a software issue with your iPhone. It’s possible that some cached data is preventing the software update process from running.
It’s clear that there are numerous problems that can cause an iPhone software update to get stuck. Some of these issues can be easily solved. Others may require a bit more effort. Let’s take a look at how to fix a stuck iPhone software update.
Plug Your iPhone into a Charger
Apple often expects users to have their device plugged into the charger while updating software. This is sometimes enforced even if your iPhone is 100% charged. This actually happened to me. There was no error message. My iPhone was simply stuck at “Update Requested”. Once I plugged it into the charger, it started downloading the update. In fact, half of the update was already downloaded. This problem may be more cosmetic than systemic. It would seem that the update was downloading, but it showed the “Update Requested” message while disconnected from the charger.
I strongly recommend not charging your iPhone while running the iOS software update process. It will generate a lot of heat and this may damage your iPhone’s battery. Shortly after every iOS update, I see an uptick in battery related articles views. People ended up damaging their iPhone battery during the update process, especially if it was a major version. The update process is quite intensive. Your iPhone must download a lot of data, sometimes more than a gigabyte. This uses the WiFi module, solid state drive and battery. If you have your screen on, it generates even more heat. Then it has to process the file (extract it from the compressed archive) and install it. It’s much more intensive than installing a huge app.
I recommend charging your iPhone all the way before running the update. If it gets stuck, plug it in to the charger and then remove the cable once the update starts. You will need to set Auto-Lock to Never in order to keep the update running. I recommend turning the brightness on your iPhone down all the way. If possible, place the iPhone on a metal surface, which will help dissipate heat.
I’ve found that simply plugging your iPhone into the charger will fix a stuck iPhone software update. This may not always be the problem. Let’s take a look at other solutions to a stalled iPhone software update.
Soft Reset Your iPhone
An iPhone update can sometimes get stuck and stay that way if some data is cached in iOS. Since iOS is closed source, it’s impossible to say for sure how this happens. I do know that people say a soft reset works. Basically, a soft reset restarts your iPhone and clears out any temporarily cached data. It’s the go-to solution that Apple Geniuses recommend for a variety of problems.
A soft reset is easy to do and it won’t delete any of your personal data. Before you do the reset, close all open apps. This can be done by double pressing the Home button and swiping up on each open app. To do the soft reset, simply hold down the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons until you see the Apple logo, then release both buttons.
The newer iPhone 7 has a non-mechanical Home button. It only works if iOS is functioning properly. Since a soft reset is sometimes necessary if your iPhone freezes (which has never happened to me), Apple had to re-engineer the soft reset process. On an iPhone 7, hold down the Sleep/Wake button and volume down button until you see the Apple logo, then release both buttons.
When the soft reset has completed, you should see the Home screen again. Launch the Settings app and go to General > Software Update. I find it’s often easier to search for settings. Slide your finger down on the Settings screen and a search field will appear. Type in “so” and you should see Software Update as one of the top results. Click on the result and it will take you right to the screen.
Check Your Internet Connection
A stuck iPhone software update may be due to something as simple as a bad Internet connection. If your iPhone is not connected to WiFi, it may prevent the update from happening. Usually, users are presented with a message telling them to connect to a WiFi network for any large download. That said, if you are downloading a major version of iOS over a cellular connection, it probably won’t work. It’s not a good idea anyway, as it will burn through a lot of cellular data.
If you are connected to WiFi, the connection might be too slow to work. You can use the Speedtest app to test your Internet connection. It may be a catch-22, as you need an Internet connection to download the app. But if the app download stalls, that may also indicate a problem with your Internet connection. You can also try installing Speedtest over a cellular connection. It’s not a huge app. At 26.1 MB, it probably won’t even put a dent in your data plan. Make sure to switch back to WiFi, because that’s the connection you need to test. If you do need to test your cellular data connection, don’t worry. Speedtest only uses about 1 MB of data per cellular data test.
DNS is another aspect of your Internet connection that can cause iPhone software update problems. Basically, DNS is used to translate a domain name (apple.com) into an IP address. The problem is that DNS servers go down. They’re also often the subject of denial of service attacks. You can check if your DNS provider can reach Apple by trying to use the App Store or iTunes store. You can also surf to www.apple.com using your iPhone’s web browser. If these sites are unresponsive, it could be a problem with your DNS server. It could also mean that there are problems in Apple’s data center.
Check Apple’s System Status Page
Apple maintains a system status web page. It enables users to quickly check if Apple is having problems with data center operations. Simply go to the system status page and look for any outages. If there are problems, the only thing you can do is wait.
If you are installing an iOS update the same day it was released, data center issues are more likely. I strongly recommend waiting a few days to update after a new version of iOS is released. Even if their servers are working, the download will usually be slower when there is more demand. Server outages are more likely immediately after a new version of iOS is launched. It’s also a good idea to wait and see if there are any defects in the new version of iOS. Let the early adopters test it for you.
Does Your iPhone Have Enough Free Space?
It’s very easy to fill up your iPhone with apps, photos, videos and music. People often forget that there’s a finite amount of storage space. The iOS update process should inform you if there isn’t sufficient space to upgrade, however, a software bug could possibly suppress this notification.
Checking for free storage space is easy. Simply go to Settings and slide your finger down on the screen to display the search field. Type in “sto” and then click on “Storage & iCloud Usage”. A summary screen displays available space on your iPhone. If it’s less than 2GB, you should probably free up some space. Bounce some photos and videos to iCloud and then delete them from your phone. You can also delete apps that you never use. Tap on the “Manage Storage” button on the “Storage & iCloud Usage” screen to see a list of apps that are using storage space. The apps are sorted by how much space they take up. I just learned that Spotify is using up 6 GB of data, and I don’t even use it anymore. (I switched to Google Play Music.) You’ll probably be surprised how many unused apps are taking up storage space. Games are another storage space hog.
Use iTunes to Upgrade iOS
Using iTunes to upgrade iOS is almost the last resort. I dislike iTunes. I’m proud to say that I haven’t really used iTunes in a few years. That said, if your iPhone’s software update is stuck, plugging it into iTunes can often fix it.
First, you need to dig out that USB cable. You can use the same one that connects to your wall charger. Next, connect your iPhone to your Mac or Windows PC using the USB cable. Launch iTunes on your computer and it should detect your device. Click on your iPhone on the top left corner of the iTunes window. A summary window will appear. Click on the “Check for Update” button and follow the on-screen instructions.
Take Your iPhone to the Apple Store
As a last resort, you can always just take your iPhone in to the Apple Store. While this is time-consuming, the Apple Geniuses can get to the bottom of the problem. It’s probably best to call ahead and make an appointment at the Genius Bar. If you’ve exhausted all other possibilities, the Apple Geniuses will most likely be able to update your iPhone.