Manually downloading iOS 4.1 (or any other versions) for iTunes

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iOS 4.1 is out and you want to immediately update your iPhone to get it updated with the latest iOS and patch all those bugs. So you fired up iTunes and click on the update button. Then iTunes tells you that it would take 3-4 hours to download the almost 400MB firmware update.

3 to 4 hours if you’re lucky that is. And on top of that, let’s hope your download don’t timeout!

Sounds familiar? Well, if you’re as unlucky as I am when it comes to download speeds on iTunes, then this bit of tip may be useful to you.

Of course, if your Internet connection isn’t all that great in the first place, then I’d just advice you to go leech some faster connection somewhere near your area, perhaps a coffee joint that offers free WiFi services. But if you’re on a relatively fast broadband account and it’s clear that the iTunes download isn’t up to par, then this will lessen your frustrations.

The tip is a simple one actually.

What happens when you update your iPhone (or any other iDevices like the iPad, iTouch and iPods) via iTunes is that iTunes would verify your device and then fetch the appropriate firmware file and download it to a specific folder on your machine. After that’s done, it will then extract the firmware and update your device accordingly.

So, if iTunes’ having trouble downloading the firmware, why not just skip downloading the firmware using iTunes and do it yourself! This should definitely work since iTunes allows you to either just download the update or download and immediately update the device. The trick is then to identify where that specific folder where iTunes would seek the firmware updates and also where you can download those firmware files

To solve the first one is easy. The trick is to just look where iTunes stores all it’s application settings and whatevernots. And a quick search brings me to the right location.

If you’re on a Mac, the location would reside in your <home folder>/Library/iTunes/iPhone Software Updates. If you’re updating your iPad, it would be at <home folder>/Library/iTunes/iPad Software Updates. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory where the other folders would be if you’re planning to update your other iDevices.

But if you’re on Windows, it’s a tiny bit trickier as the location of the application settings folder is sort of hidden. On Windows XP, it would be located in C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates. On Vista or Windows 7, the location slightly differs as the user folders have been re-located. So, it’s now at C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates. Alternatively, you can also quickly access the location by using the Run dialog and going into %APPDATA%\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates.

Now you have the location at hand. Next, where to find and download those firmware files!

Well, thankfully, the Internet is a very resourceful place and you may seek the firmware files you need here for the iPhone firmwares and here for the iPad firmwares. Alternatively, you may also check out this site for all the iDevices firmwares.

Once downloaded, just copy over the ipsw file into the appropriate  iTunes’ Software Updates folder. Then in iTunes, simply connect your iPhone, iPad, iWhatever and hit update. You’d see that iTunes would find the firmware file already downloaded and would immediately verify that it’s the right firmware file and update your device accordingly.

So there you go! Full control on the downloading of the firmware files without the hassle of updating your iDevice using the Option+Restore on the Mac or Shift+Restore on Windows to get your iDevice to the latest iOS version!

BUT do note that this is NOT recommended if you currently have a jailbroken iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Updating your device from a jailbroken OS would make you lose some 500MB of usable space. I’ve talked about this here in my post about upgrading from a jailbroken device to a legit firmware.

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