I know these three couples. All six people have iPhones, and they have all recently asked me about syncing. I told them to wait until iCloud came out so I could give them a more informed answer.

I know that once you have iOS 5 on your phones, you can have separate iCloud accounts while sharing an iTunes Store account between you. That is not my question.

But to get iOS 5 on your phone, you have to plug it in and sync it with iTunes one last time. I can't test this, but I'm assuming that unless you create separate Windows or OS X accounts for that one lousy sync, you can't do it without screwing up at least one person's data.

That is my question: Is there a good way to install iOS 5 on two iPhones, from one computer account, without causing the data apocalypse you're trying to avoid by upgrading to iOS 5 in the first place?

EDIT: It occurs to me that after I plug in the phone, I could just uncheck every single "Sync" option underneath the tabs on the device screen in iTunes. Is that all it would take to upgrade to iOS 5 but leave the device untouched?

  • You can have multiple iTunes profiles (hold down Option while starting iTunes in OS X; don't know how in Windows), so you don't need to create separate system accounts. That said, I think iTunes gives two options: a) sync with the original iTunes profile that activated the iThingie, or b) blow away the iThingie's data and sync with the existing iTunes profile. (This is based on experience with an iPod Touch [4th gen], so I don't know how well it holds for iPhones.)
    – zpletan
    Oct 14, 2011 at 2:55

3 Answers 3


You don't mention if they're on the same computer. I am in a similar situation, two iPhones on one iTunes account, except we each sync to a different computer. I expect (based on the note above) to be able to upgrade both two iOS 5 and use two different iCloud accounts. As our data currently lives separately on two computers (Snow Leopard), I'm optimistic that we won't clobber one another. Perhaps this is an option for your friends?


see http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=526655 a better start than the above.

One option might be to have one phone synced with the address book...then do an address book export...sync up the other phone, and see if it merges...if not, then you can import the other addresses.

I'd agree with your caution...be careful, but I think there's a way to figure it out...start with the link above and the address book backup...hope it helps.


Since iTunes will make a backup and then restore the data onto the devices, why not transfer all the purchase to the computer and let iTunes do the install as designed?

Making a second OS users account isn't that hard if someone is adamant that their apps can't live with another's purchased apps...

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