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How to fix an iPad that won't update

Person using iPad

If you own an iPad®, you know how valuable and versatile it is. Whether it's for work, school, or just for fun, someone in your family probably uses it every day. That means it's important your iPad is running at its best, but if you can't install the latest updates, you may be missing out on critical security fixes, major layout changes, or helpful new features.

At Asurion, our experts help millions of customers get the most out of their tech and resolve their device problems. Here's their guide to why your iPad is not updating and how to fix the issue.

Why won't my iPad update?

There are many reasons why your iPad will not update to the latest operating system. Here are some of the most likely ones. But first, be sure to try restarting your iPad to make sure that doesn't solve the issue.

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You don't have enough space for an update

A lack of storage on your iPad can lead to an update not having enough room to load. Here's how to free up space on your iPad:

  1. Go to Settings > General > iPad Storage. In the Recommendations section, you'll see options to quickly add space to your iPad, such as Offload Unused Apps, Optimize Photos, and Review Large Attachments.
  2. Move photos stored on your iPad either to a computer or to iCloud®. To enable iCloud Photo Library, go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Photos and turn on iCloud Photos.
  3. Delete any unwanted photos. After deleting them, stay in the Photos app and tap Albums > Recently Deleted > Select > Delete All and confirm that you want to permanently delete the photos.

Another way to free up storage space on your iPad is to remove Apple Music® downloads from your device. To do so:

  1. Open the Music app.
  2. Press and hold a downloaded song until a menu appears.
  3. Tap Remove….
  4. Tap Remove Download to remove the song from your device but keep it in your Apple Music Library.

You have a poor internet connection

If your update is taking a long time or appears to have stopped, it could be an issue with your internet connection. You should try to use Wi-Fi to download any operating system updates, but if you're on a public network, your connection may not be strong enough to complete the task. If you're at home and having issues, try unplugging your router, waiting one minute, and then plugging it back in.

If problems persist, reset your iPad network settings. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. After you reset it, you'll have to rejoin your Wi-Fi network and re-enter your password.

You can't reach Apple's servers

If something goes wrong with your update, your iPad will display an error message that includes a number or note. Apple Support has a page that lists what errors mean and how to resolve them.

If you receive a message that says “Unable to Check for Update" or “Unable to Verify Update," it could be because of a problem with the servers at Apple. You can check their servers to make sure they're operating normally.

Your iPad is not eligible for an update

Some older iPad models may not support the latest iPadOS updates. To check if your device is eligible, visit Apple's support page.

Use your computer to update your iPad

If your iPad won't update on its own, you can try to update it through a Mac® or PC. Just connect your iPad and computer with a Lightning® cord and follow these steps.

On a Mac running macOS® Mojave 10.14 or on a PC:

  1. Open iTunes®.
  2. Click on the iPad icon in the upper-left corner.
  3. Click Check for Update.
  4. Click Download and Install or Download and Update.

On a Mac running macOS Catalina 10.15:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on the iPad icon under Locations in the left column.
  3. Click General or Settings, then click Check for Update.
  4. Click Download and Install or Download and Update.

What if my iPad still won't update?

If you're still dealing with an iPad that won't update after trying these solutions, you can try a more drastic measure and reset your iPad to factory settings. Doing so will erase all the information stored on your iPad—that includes apps, photos, videos, contacts, messages, notes, browsing history, settings, and more—so we only recommend this as a last resort.

If you've tried these steps and still need a little help, we're right around the corner. Schedule a repair at the nearest uBreakiFix® by Asurion store and our certified experts can get your device back up and running as soon as the same day.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

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