Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I work in an IT department and I am moving large amount of people from their iPhone 4 to a new iPhone 4S. What currently happens is the person who is getting an upgrade comes in, activates the handset and I can then update it. I then add everything that they need on the phone from the iphone configuration utility and the appstore which involves them needing to be there to enter usernames/passwords.

This is all fine apart from it takes quite a bit of time out of the person's schedule. I feel it would be a much better approach if I was able to update all the phones beforehand and then have the recipient activate the phone. This would save on the large amount of time that is spent waiting for the phones to update, which is important when the recipients have very little time spare as they have incredibly busy schedules and getting the time required can be quite a squeeze.

Is there anyway I can update first or am I out of luck?

Note: We are using Windows so the Apple Configurator isn't an option

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You are forced to activate the phones OTA or via iTunes before you can sync apps over the 30 pin connector or access iCloud or the App Store on iOS.

You can put the devices into recovery mode and update the OS from iTunes to get part of the way there.

Just because you're a windows shop, don't assume you won't come out ahead getting the configurator and a computer to use as an appliance for saving you valuable time in setting up the devices your employees are using. I understand not wanting to fight a battle with limited time, but this might be a nice time to branch out and come out ahead in experience and tools.

If I were in your situation, I would have each employee make iCloud and ensure the device is backed up to iCloud to do the migration. You can be there to guide them, but they are responsible for moving their data and settings to their new devices. (Your comment about data privacy means iCloud is clearly not something you want so I understand that with sensitive data but perhaps others can rely on that when they have a similar problem)

You can update all the new devices to iOS 5.1.1 and they can get help from you if they can't get their devices up to that level or backed up before they arrive for their exchange.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, I'll try the recovery mode option tomorrow when I'm back at work. iCloud unfortunately hits us with the problem of the data protection act. – Stuart Thomson May 22 '12 at 16:48
Fair enough. You might also consider having each user take responsibility for backups to their computers to avoid data on non-controlled devices. Moving to an MDM or Configurator might make even more sense in your case. – bmike May 22 '12 at 17:56
Thank you so much, using recovery mode to update the OS worked. It saved so much time for the users coming in. – Stuart Thomson May 23 '12 at 11:17

Are you using the iPhone Configuration Utility, or Apple's new Configurator utility for 10.7?

From Configurator's help section it seems you could configure a single new iOS device, back it up, then restore that to multiple new devices.

share|improve this answer
Actually this might be a better page for your question: – da4 May 22 '12 at 15:38
I'm using the iPhone Configuration Utility. Unfortunately I can't use the Apple Configurator as we are using Windows. – Stuart Thomson May 22 '12 at 15:50
Configurator won't work in this case to preserve pre-existing data any better than iTunes will. The iPhone configuration utility also doesn't attach the nub of this issue - getting around the need for user account and password combination if IT wants to "do the upgrade" for the employees. – bmike May 22 '12 at 16:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.