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Software Update Problem: “Unable to Check for Update. An Error Occurred” (How to Fix)

Several users have reported that they receive error messages when they try to update their iDevice’s (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) software wirelessly using Settings > General > About > Software Update (called an Over-The-Air update). In particular, many readers see the message unable to check for update. An error occurred while checking for a software update.

Quick tips
Follow these quick tips to troubleshoot when your device is unable to check for an update or if an error occurred while checking
Visit Apple’s System Status page and check for any ongoing issues and problems with Apple’s Servers
Try another WiFi network or use iTunes or Finder (for macOS Catalina+) to update your device instead of over-the-air
Toggle Airplane mode on and off
Update your Date & Time to Set Automatically or toggle set automatically off and on
For iPhones and iPads with cellular service, try toggling off WiFi and use cellular data instead (this may incur additional mobile data charges as updates tend to be large files)
Reset your network settings
Restart or force restart your device
Remove any beta profiles, if applicable
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Check Apple Servers for a Problem
This error often happens when Apple Servers are down. To check, visit Apple’s System Status site and see if any of Apple’s services are impacted. Services include things like iCloud, App Stores, iTunes, Software Updates, Siri, Maps, Apple Pay and so forth. Services listed in green on the System Status page are working normally. Things listed in yellow are experiencing current issues.


On the System Status page, click on the particular service name next to the yellow warning icon to get more information from Apple. This data usually includes the date, time, and short description of the reported problem as well as the number or percentage of users impacted and if the issue is on-going or resolved.

And usually, you see the following message, “Users are experiencing a problem with the service listed above. We are investigating and will update the status as more information becomes available.”

If Apple System Status shows all green
That means the problem is likely on your end, so performing the steps below should help
Sometimes there is a small problem on Apple’s end that doesn’t show up on the System Status page. So if you try all the steps and nothing helps, check the internet for news stories about your specific problem
If Apple System Status shows some yellow
There is a problem with Apple’s current servers and services so check if your problem is listed with the yellow caution sign
If your issue is reported and cautioned, there’s not much you can do. The problem is way beyond just you and your device

If you want to know more, check online for news related to your problem or to Apple OR type in a news search using search terms “apple servers down today”
Apple Servers and Friends
Apple actually stores information on Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (the Big 3 of cloud storage with AWS in a strong lead.)

These are in addition to Apple’s own in-house data storage centers. These cloud services store things like our iCloud backups, photo storage, music streaming, and video downloads. Governments, Institutions, Companies, and even us small folks, are more dependent on the cloud than ever before so when an outage occurs, we notice (and maybe scream!)

Everything’s Connected–it’s the web after all
These days everything is connected, so when any of these big three cloud services experience problems or goes offline, Apple, along with tons of other companies large and small, is also affected. These outages cause a variety of symptoms from sites going completely offline, web services not available or working, website failing to load properly, an inability to unable to load assets, to major and minor slowdowns and intermittent issues.

And these problems translate all the way down to us, the actual users who no longer are able to check for software updates, download apps or iBooks, and a host of other potential downstream effects. So when you find that you are not able to update any of the apps on your iPhone or iPad today, it just might be a much larger problem with impacts around the globe.

Be mindful that when Apple Servers are down, new and recently changed content may not have updated across all your devices or at
How to Troubleshoot Unable to Check for Update Error
So if you determined this is not a server or Apple systems issue, the tips below should help get things back to working order.

Make sure you have a stable and fast internet connection before trying to update–do not update via a public WiFi if at all possible. 

If unsure of your WiFi’s speed, run a speed test before trying to update your iOS.

If your iOS download takes too long
Remember that iOS downloads only as fast as your internet (Ethernet or WiFi) allow. This means downloading the update varies by the size of the update itself AND your Internet speed. Even though you can use your device while downloading the iOS update, we don’t recommend it because we want to maintain the speed of the download.

Try each step until you resolve your issue
Try updating your software via iTunes (Windows and macOS Mojave and below) or Finder (macOS Catalina+). Updating your software may fix this problem
Settings > WiFi and turn Wi-Fi off and then on again
Toggle Cellular Data OFF
Toggle Airplane Mode ON and OFF (do this a couple of time)
Power OFF your iDevice, wait 20-30 seconds, and power back ON
Change your device’s date and time to set automatically or toggle it off, wait 30 seconds and toggle it back on again. Go to Settings > General > Date & Time
If you’re a Beta Tester, delete your Beta Profile and try again
Go to Settings > General > Profiles and tap the iOS Beta Software Profile > Remove Profile 
Restart and try updating again

Reset network settings by tapping Settings  > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
Don’t reset your network settings unless you can reconnect to Wi-Fi.

Free some space on your iDevice–your iPhone etc. may not have sufficient space for the iOS or iPadOS update
Delete some Messages to get things going

Change your DNS settings. To do that, simply tap Settings > Wi-Fi then Tap the blue arrow next to your current Wi-Fi network. Tap the “DNS” field and enter the DNS servers;, (Google’s Public DNS). After this, try a software update
Try a forced restart. Then wait for 20-30 seconds before turning your iDevice back on again. Check and see if it allows updating
Perform a Forced Restart
On an iPhone 6S or below plus all iPads with home buttons & iPod touches through 6th gen, press Home and Power at the same time until you see the Apple logo
For iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus and iPod touch 7th gen: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo
On an iPhone 8 or later and iPad without a home button: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Then press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Finally, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo

Remove and download the iOS or iPadOS update again
If this error happens multiple times, check for a partial update and remove that update. Once removed, try downloading the update again, preferably using iTunes or Finder.

Check for Partial Update
Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage (or iPad & iPod Touch)
Locate that iOS or iPadOS update in your list of apps
Tap the iOS or iPadOS update, then tap Delete Update
Open iTunes or Finder and check for an update
Click Check for Update to install the latest iPhone software.

Or go to Settings > General > Software Update and try and over-the-air update again
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the original editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.

Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.

In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.


Software Update Problem: “Unable to Check for Update. An Error Occurred” (How to Fix)

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