I am trying to update an old iPad Mini (5th gen) from iOS 12 to 16. I have it plugged into my MacBook (running on Ventura) and every time I go to run a backup via "Finder" I get an error message that my iPad could not be backed up or updated because the iPad disconnected when the cord and everything is still very much intact. I have gone through two cords, used both ports, restarted both iPad and computer, deleted cookies, and tried everything. Any help would be appreciated!

  • 1
    Can't you update it via Wifi?
    – lhf
    Sep 7, 2023 at 20:02

2 Answers 2


I'd be inclined to think dirty contacts.

Get a can of contact cleaner - WD40 make a good clean one that won't damage circuit boards or plastics [not the lube in a blue/yellow can, the actual contact cleaner in a silver/green can]

Many generic contact cleaners are fine on circuit boards, but rot plastics rapidly. Don't buy cheap. If you cannot access contact cleaner, then 90%+ isopropyl alcohol & some cotton buds will suffice. This is harder to apply safely, though and leaving cotton on the connectors will be another problem to solve.

  • Power off, don't just sleep, both the iPad & the MacBook.
  • Liberally spray the contacts on the plugs, not into the sockets on the devices.
  • Jam the plugs in & out of the sockets a dozen times, rapidly but carefully.
  • Repeat at least once, maybe three times.
  • Allow at least an hour to fully evaporate.

Contact cleaner is conductive whilst still wet, so you need to be patient.

  • Test again.

Previous phone tech here,

Chances are that the gap between the version that your iPad is running and the version that you want to update to are too great.

Try 3uTools it's free. (a Windows route)

If you have access to a Windows computer I would highly recommend both backing up your iPad through 3uTools and using 3uTools built in cable checking tool to double check if you have a genuine Apple/MFI certified cable and if the cable is working as intended.

Once you have the iPad backed up through 3uTools (guide here). I would recommend putting the device into recovery mode (iPad guide here), then using macOS's built software to update the iPad to the latest firmware (3uTools can do it as well). Both ways will display an option to update and restore the device as soon as it's connected while in recovery mode.

I know there are macOS tools that you may be able to use to achieve the same thing. I will update my answer as I find one that works.


If you are okay proceeding without a backup then you can skip all steps and just put your iPad into recovery mode and perform a factory reset using macOS without any third party software.

  • I was thinking the same - problems backing up often need an erase / restore. The upgrade could flow if the device was healthy enough to do a backup. Let's hope it's contacts and not something the OP has to choose to lose data and get a newer OS running.
    – bmike
    Feb 4 at 22:27
  • I have seen it several times with different customers. One comes to mind. Someone had an original 2015 12.9" with iOS 9.2.1 installed and they weren't able to update their device through settings or through their MacBook because of how different versions were. I was amazed that they used this iPad every day but never thought to update it at any point. I even still have the image that I took here. Feb 6 at 17:01

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