How to Backup, Sync or Update Your iPhone or iPad

If the iTunes symbol appears on your iPhone or iPad, after you switch it on, you may need to activate or 'unbrick' your device and/or sync your iPhone or iPad with iTunes.

Looking to activate your iPhone's SIM card? See this article for help.

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Need assistance using your iOS device? Animated instructions are available for both iPad and iPhone at Mobile Device Help

Device Activation/Unbricking

If your iPhone/iPad displays an iTunes symbol/USB cable on it's screen after switching it on, it needs to be (re)activated or 'unbricked'. To unbrick / activate your device ensure you have the latest version of iTunes and a separate internet connection, (ie. not tethered through the iPhone).

Activation/Unbricking via USB cable

This method is supported by all versions of iOS (Apple's operating system).

  1. Connect your iPhone/iPad to your computer via the supplied USB cable.
  2. Launch iTunes. (iTunes 11 or above? Go to  > 'View' Menu > 'Show Sidebar')
  3. Your iPhone/iPad will be automatically detected and will appear in the left hand pane, under 'Devices'.
  4. iTunes will then connect to the internet and activate/unbrick the device.
  5. The device will display 'iPhone/iPad is activated' - 'unbricking' is now complete.

Sync and backup

Before you sync and back up the settings and content of your device to iTunes, ensure you're using the latest version of iTunes.

Sync via USB

  1. Confirm your computer is connected to the internet via a separate internet connection (ie not tethered through the iPhone).
  2. Connect your iPhone/iPad to your computer via the supplied USB cable.
  3. Open iTunes (iTunes 11 or above, Go to  > 'View' Menu > 'Show Sidebar')
  4. Select your iPhone or iPad from 'Devices' in the Source List on the left hand side of iTunes.
  5. Choose the content you would like to sync from the tabs (Summary, Info, Ringtones, Movies, TV, Music, Podcasts, Photos).
  6. Click 'Sync' in the bottom right hand corner of iTunes.

Sync via Wi-Fi

To sync over WiFi, your device must be running iOS 5 or later and be configured for Wi-Fi sync.

  1. Confirm that iTunes is open on your computer.
  2. Connect your iOS device to a power source.
  3. Initiate the sync either in iTunes on your computer or by selecting the option within 'Settings' on your iOS device.

Multiple Wi-Fi connected iOS devices may be synced or managed via iTunes simultaneously.

You can disconnect an iOS device from the computer while syncing, and seamlessly switch from USB to Wi-Fi syncing, provided the device remains connected to your Wi-Fi network.

Updating to the latest version of iOS

To get the most out of your device, you should keep your iPad/iPhone's operating system (iOS) up to date and backed up. Instructions are available below, as well as on the Apple website.

We recommend updating iOS via the supplied USB cable and iTunes. However you can also update wirelessly (Over the Air updates are available in iOS 5 or later)

Preparing to update iOS

  1. Confirm your computer is connected to the internet via a separate connection (ie not tethered to iPhone).
  2. Open and check that you're using the latest version of iTunes. Update if required.
  3. Connect your iPhone/iPad to your computer via the supplied USB cable.
  4. In iTunes, click on the iPhone/iPad icon, underneath the menu bar. Then
  5. Select the 'Summary' pane in iTunes (if not already selected)
  6. Click 'Sync' or 'Apply' in the bottom right of iTunes.
  7. It will now creates a separate back up of your device and begin to sync your media.

Performing an iOS update

  1. in iTunes From the 'Summary' pane: Click 'Check for Update'. iTunes will then advise you of any available updates.
  2. Follow the prompts to accept an update.
  3. iTunes will then download the new version of iOS from Apple to your computer.
  4. iTunes will then transfer the new version of iOS from your computer to your device.
  5. Upon completion your device will create another back up and proceed to update iOS.

Important: Updating your device's software and firmware can take several minutes and may cause your device to become unresponsive. Do not disconnect your device unless instructed. If you experience problems with iOS, please consult this article or visit the Apple website for assistance.

For comprehensive information on iTunes and your iPhone or iPad visit Apple's support website.