How to get ready for your iOS 9 upgrade the right way

Rob LeFebvre

Whether you’re getting a new iPhone 6s or not, you’re going to want to upgrade to iOS 9 to take advantage of everything Apple’s new mobile operating system has to offer.

iOS 9 is ready to revolutionize your mobile life, but there are a few things you should do before making the leap. Here’s how to get your iPhone (or iPad) ready for its iOS 9 upgrade — the right way.

First you’ll want to clean up your existing iOS 9-compatible device. Then you need to make a good backup using iTunes, iCloud or a combination of the two. (Bonus: If you end up getting an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus in the near future, you’ll have a nice, clean, ready-to-rock iOS device to migrate from.)

Will your device run iOS 9?

You’ll need to have a device that can handle iOS 9, of course. Luckily, Apple supports many older devices. You can install iOS 9 on devices as old as iPhone 4s, iPad 2 and the fifth-generation iPod touch. Any iPad mini (1, 2 or 3) is compatible as well. You’re good to go if you’re rocking these devices or any newer models.

Get rid of all the apps you don’t use

There’s no point in backing up a lot of apps you don’t use, especially if you’re moving to a new iPhone 6s or 6s Plus. You could tap and hold any icon on your iPhone’s home screen to get the apps to do the wiggle dance, then tap the X in the upper left of the icon for each app you want to delete. However, I prefer to use the Usage pane in the Settings app (Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage) to find out just what apps I’ve got on my device, and how much space each one takes up. Then I can make a more informed choice, and so can you.

Spring clean your media

We’ve all got movies, TV shows and music on our iOS devices that we can definitely stand to part with. Be sure you’ve turned off iTunes Match (Settings > iTunes & App Store), then toggle Show All Music and Videos to OFF. Once you do that, you can launch the Music and Video apps to delete songs or videos one at a time with a swipe to the right.

You can add these files back to your new iPhone 6s if you like, but it’s like spring cleaning — stuff we don’t need clutters up our lives. Just let them go.

Organize that Home screen

Now that you’ve gone through the trouble of cleaning out the apps you don’t want, you can put them in an order that works for you. (This will get backed up in the next step.)

I try to organize most of my apps into folders by topic. Sure, that big new iPhone 6s Plus might have a lot more screen space than your current iPhone, but it’s still a good idea to keep apps as close to hand as possible.

I tend to keep my main apps on the first Home screen; then I branch off on the next few pages. I don’t put everything into a folder because that just gets tedious. I do, however, keep my Apple apps in one folder, games in their own folder and travel apps like JetBlue, United, Uber and Transit in yet another. It keeps me from making too many swipes to find my important stuff.

Get it backed up

All the previous steps are meaningless if you don’t take the time to back up your device before your iOS 9 upgrade.

You can use iCloud or iTunes to back up your iPhone or iPad, or a combination of the two. Personally, I use iCloud for the everyday backups, in case I drop my iPhone in a puddle or what have you. It’s a fairly moron-proof way to make sure most of your stuff gets saved.

iCloud backs up photos and videos in your Camera Roll, various device settings, your app data, the organization of your home screen, iMessage and text messages, ringtones and Visual Voicemail. This is enough for my purposes to upgrade to a new version of iOS, and I’ve rarely had a problem doing so.

To turn on iCloud, simply go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup and toggle iCloud Backup to ON. If you haven’t yet synced this way, tap Back Up Now while you’re there.

If you’re a bit less cavalier about your data than I am, iTunes is a fantastic way to save even more stuff than iCloud does. When you back up your iPhone to iTunes, you’ll copy all the things iCloud saves in addition to Calendar accounts, events, Safari bookmarks, Autofill data, Mail accounts, Notes, call history, saved network settings and a ton more (see the full list at Apple’s support site).

Really, there’s so much more backed up via iTunes that it’s worth your while to launch it while your iPhone is connected and start a manual backup: In iTunes, click the Summary button for your iPhone when connected, then hit the Back Up Now button.

Pro tip: Use the Encrypted backup option to save private data like account passwords and Health information.

You’re ready for your iOS 9 upgrade

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready for your iOS 9 upgrade. Now just wait till Apple pushes the update to your iPhone sometime tomorrow (probably around 10 a.m. Pacific). Connect to Wi-Fi and plug in your device so it will have plenty of juice to get through the upgrade.

Tap Settings > General > Software Update, then tap Download and Install, and wait for iOS 9’s magic to begin.