PadGadget How-To Guide – Installing iOS 6 on your iPad

Apple’s big update to its mobile operating system is set to release later today. If everything goes smoothly, the only thing you will have to do is check for the update, hit the install button when prompted, and make a sandwich while your iPad does all of the work.

If you remember updating to iOS 5.x, you’ll know that it is never that easy. Because there are plenty of glitches along the way when trying to download a major update to iOS, we’ve got a few tips and pointers on how to smoothly transition from 5.1.1 to 6.0.

The first thing you will need to do is update your operating system to the current version. If you are not already using iOS 5.1.1, then you should update right now. Waiting until Wednesday will only make it harder. While you are at it, you might as well update your iTunes to version 10.7. You probably won’t need to update your iPad through iTunes, but it doesn’t hurt to have it up to date in case there are any problems.

The next thing you will need to do BEFORE updating your operating system is to back up your iPad. Don’t be silly about this. If you haven’t backed up your contacts, documents, game scores, and whatever else you have on your device and something goes wrong, causing you to lose everything, it is your own fault. Nothing can be done to save you. Apple Geniuses will shake their heads in disapproval if you tell them you didn’t back up first.

When iOS 6 finally becomes available to the public (times vary, but it usually happens around 9:00 a.m. PDT), you should be able to update by going to the settings app on your iPad. Find the category “General” on the sidebar on the left side of the screen and select “Software Update.” Your device will check for an update and, if iOS 6 is available, tap the download button to begin the update. Once the download is complete, tap the install button to finalize the update.

This is what happens when everything goes right.

Now, we’ve got some advice for if (and probably when) something goes wrong.

The first bit of advice is to be patient. Practically the entire industrialized world is trying to update to iOS 6 at the same time as you. It is not unlikely that you will be waiting hours for the download to complete. Be prepared for a long wait time without being able to use your iPad. If you need it for work, don’t update until the end of the day.

Once you’ve completed the update, make sure to read every message that comes up. If the update wants to know if you want to restore your contacts from your previous backup, you’d better be sure you’ve backed up your iPad recently or you’ll lose everything that wasn’t stored first.

Sometimes, it is necessary to update an operating system using iTunes, instead of wirelessly. A lot of problems can arise by updating this way. It usually has to do with your own computer’s configurations.

To update to iOS using iTunes, connect your iPad to your computer using the 30-pin/USB connector. When your iPad shows up on your iTunes summary screen, click “Check for updates” and follow the prompts. Make sure your iPad is connected directly into your computer and not to a USB hub. Make sure your computer’s operating system is up to date and that you are running iTunes 10.7.

When updating iOS through iTunes, users have experienced various failures. Nine times out of 10 users have inadvertently blocked iTunes from contacting Apple’s servers from the computer. Be sure to temporarily turn off all of your computer’s firewalls and anti-virus software before updating your iPad. If that doesn’t work, find your iPad software update folder and delete any .ipsw files.

Sometimes, it is necessary to restore your iPad in order to be able to update the operating system. To do so, when your device is connected to your computer, select the “Restore” button on the summary page. This will literally remove everything on your iPad and then put it back. This can seem a little scary when you realize that your iPad will be a blank slate for a short while. You might have to manually add your favorite apps and restore your magazines, but that is easy to do. You can just go to the apps section of your device and select the ones you want on your iPad.

Hopefully, you won’t have any issues when updating your iPad to iOS 6, but the most important thing to do is be patient. If something went wrong, it is not because Apple broke your iPad.

After iOS 6 launches, we will probably discover a few issues that people are experiencing that will need troubleshooting advice. We will be sure to let you know of more problems and solutions as they arise after Sept. 19.

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About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik