How To Upgrade and Skip Backup Entirely on an iPad

The iPad downloads updates in the background while you use it.
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While backing up your iPad is highly recommended, it's not mandatory. Backups are a separate process from updates, so you choose whether you want to back up your data each time you update it. For example, if you backed up your iPad only a few days before an update is announced, a backup may not be necessary. Provided you have enough room in the iPad's storage, you can download the update directly to your iPad and update it wirelessly. If there isn't enough free storage space for the update file, you need to delete some data or connect the iPad to iTunes to update it.

1 Updating Wirelessly

2 Connect the iPad

Connect the iPad to a power source using the adapter that came with it. Confirm that you are within range of a reliable Wi-Fi network. Launch the "Settings" app and select "General," followed by "Software Update."

3 Tap Download and Install link

Tap "Download and Install" link. This only appears if an update is available. A dialog box opens asking if you want to install the update immediately or later. If you select "Later," you can come back at any time after the update is downloaded.

4 Tap Install

Tap "Install" on the Software Update screen to install the update. The iPad restarts by itself when the process is finished. The amount of time this takes depends on the purpose of the update. For most cases the update takes from 5 to 10 minutes.

5 Updating With iTunes

6 Launch iTunes on your computer

Launch iTunes on your computer. If iTunes prompts you to update to the most recent version, do it before the iPad update. If you don't have iTunes, you can get it free at Apple's website.

7 Connect the iPad-2

Connect the iPad to your computer using the cable that came with it. Click the "iPad" button in the upper right corner of the iTunes window.

8 Click the Summary tab

Click the "Summary" tab and then click the "Check for Update" button. As with a wireless update, you can opt to install the update immediately or just download it so you can update the iPad later. The update is downloaded to your computer, not to the iPad.

9 Click the Download and Update button

Click the "Download and Update" button. The iPad restarts when the process is finished.

10 Click the Eject button Eject beside the iPad button

Click the "Eject" button beside the iPad button after the update is complete.

  • Regularly backing up your iPad using iCloud or iTunes is important. If you don't back up the device you could lose all of your files and settings if the iPad crashes.
  • Information in this article applies to iOS 7 and iTunes 11. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
  • Delete some apps to make room for an update if you don't want to connect the iPad to your computer. You can manage storage by selecting "General" in the iPad's Settings and selecting "Usage." To delete an app here, swipe it to the left and tap "Delete." You can also delete individual files from apps such as Music and Videos by tapping the app and then deleting the files you don't need.

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.