Is your iOS device giving you problems updating saying it doesn’t have enough space to update to iOS 6?
iOS 6 is updatable on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPod Touch 4, iPod Touch 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4 and the iPad mini, even if they only have 8 GBs or 16 GBs of memory.
Any of these devices, even if they only have 8GB of storage space can be updated to iOS 6, although you may come across an error saying you can’t update to iOS 6 because there is not enough space.
To update to iOS 6, your device has to have at minimum around 2.5 – 3GBs of available storage space. This is space required by the device in order to process the update properly. Updating through your devices software update (Settings -> General -> Software Update) actually takes up more space than updating through iTunes. This is because when iTunes downloads the iOS 6 software it stores the file on your computer. When you update through your device, the iOS 6 software is downloaded to your device taking up some space (it does get removed however when your device successfully updates through).
The amount of space taken up by iOS 5 and iOS 6 isn’t that much different. An iOS device has a system partition with reserved flash memory for the iOS operating system (OS). Around 1 to 1.5 GB is reserved on all devices to store the stock apps and OS. That being as it is, you shouldn’t notice very much, if any extra space being taken up once the update is completed.
In fact if you setup your device as a new device instead of restoring from a backup there is a good chance that you’ll actually see an increased amount of available space. This is mainly because it won’t restore all your old caches and any possible corrupt backup data that may try to migrate over from your backup. If you want to see how much space the old data/caches and native iOS app data are taking up, open iTunes -> Plug in device or connect via Wi-Fi -> go to the devices summary page, and view the orange “Other” category located at the bottom on the iTunes window. This other article explains how to remove some of the “Other” space if interested.
My device doesn’t have enough space to update
If the update button on your device is greyed out or you are receiving a message that there is not enough storage space to upgrade to iOS 6, well, it’s because you don’t have enough available space, yet. Even if your device is only an 8GB model, it still has enough space to be updated to iOS 6.
The first thing you want to do is check to see what is taking up the most space on your device. You can view these items by going to Settings -> General -> Usage. Under “Storage”, are all the items that are taking up space on your device. They are conveniently listed by size, in order of largest to smallest. Most commonly the largest space hogs are the music, videos, podcasts and iTunes U.
If the largest items are your media, then all you have to do is un-sync those items with iTunes, or delete them from your device. Any podcast or song you remove can simply be re-synced with iTunes or if bought from iTunes, re-downloaded once your device is fully updated.
If your device has Photo Stream enabled then your latest 1000 photos in your Camera Roll are already stored online. If you have a lot of photos and they are taking up a lot of space, then you can remove the pictures from Camera Roll and simply copy/download them all back from Photo Stream to Camera Roll after the update. Check Photo Stream first to make sure all your photos are actually stored. Enable Photo Steam by going to Settings -> Mail Contacts, Calendars -> select Apple ID account -> Photo Steam -> Make sure the switch is on the “On” position.
Of course if there’s not enough space because your apps are taking up to much space, then those apps will have to be un-sync with iTunes. You can also just delete the apps then download them again once you’ve successfully updated to iOS 6. The difference between un-syncing and deleting is that un-sync with iTunes will keep the app data so that when you re-sync the app, all the settings and other app information will also be synced back. Whereas all of the app data will be permanently lost if you simply delete the app from your device.
After you’ve made enough space on your iOS device (around 2.5 GB – 3 GB of available storage space) then your device should have no problem updating to iOS 6.
For full instructions on how to update to iOS 6 read my other article: How to Successfully Update to iOS 6