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To manually initiate an iTunes backup, click File from the top menu bar and choose Devices > Back Up. You will see the backup status at the top of the iTunes window. When I tried to do this, these options were grayed out.
There is another way to initiate the backup. Using iTunes 11, click on the Devices button at the top right of the main window. A panel with your devices will appear. Click on the device you wish to backup.
The summary screen for this device will appear. From this screen, click on the “Back Up Now” button.
When the backup is complete, you can confirm by clicking iTunes (on the top menu bar) > Preferences and then click the Devices tab. You will see the date and time of the most recent backup for each device. The device summary screen (pictured above) will also show the date and time of the last backup.
Backing up is only a precaution. You do not need to restore your iOS device after upgrading unless something is missing. Upgrading iOS should not delete anything from your device. I have never experienced the loss of any data, app, or iTunes content from an iOS upgrade.
Run the Upgrade
There are two ways to upgrade — over-the-air (OTA) or using iTunes. OTA is the easiest way, but you need a certain amount of free space. iOS 6 requires 2GB of free space. If your device doesn’t have enough room, you can upgrade using iTunes, which requires less free space. To find out the size needed for the upgrade, tap Settings > General > Software Update. Your device won’t let you upgrade if there is not enough free space.
You can check the amount of free space on your device by tapping Settings > General > Usage. Available storage is displayed at the top. You can free up space by tapping on any item. A screen with a breakdown of storage will appear. Simply slide your finger to the left on each item to display the delete button. Delete any items you don’t need. If you have backed up your device, you can restore items such as the camera roll.
If you have enough space, it’s best to run the OTA upgrade. It’s fast, easy, and can be done directly on your device. First, make sure your device is fully charged, then remove the charging cable. This will ensure that your device won’t get too warm while upgrading. You might even want to let it sit for several minutes to let the battery cool down. Next, set Auto-Lock to Never by tapping Settings > General > Auto-Lock > Never. This will ensure that the upgrade process runs and won’t stop when the screen locks. Finally, tap Settings > General > Software Update and follow the on-screen instructions.
If it’s not possible to free up a few GB for the iOS upgrade, you can try iTunes. Keep in mind, you still need some free space to upgrade iOS. However, since iTunes will store the upgrade files on your computer, upgrading with iTunes requires less available storage space on your device. (continue…)