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Free Space Required For iOS 8 Firmware

Last updated: September 8, 2014 at 15:03 pm

How much of free storage space does an iOS 8 installation require? The answer may surprise you. Before we dig into the details, it is important for you to understand the various “ways” through which you can update your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch to iOS 8 firmware.

One solution is very effective than the other.

We will also talk about the iOS 8 betas, the new stable version, and the best way to install iOS 8 firmware so that you don’t have to free up storage space by deleting installed apps and games on your iOS device.

Apple iOS Storage Space History

Let’s talk about iOS history. Every year Apple releases a new iOS beta version for the developers, and then the official stable version to the consumers.

Each new version comes with a new list of features that promises something completely new and refreshing.

Now, consumers using iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch can download the new iOS firmware and install it on their devices. This step, as you know, replaces the older iOS firmware with a newer one — while keeping all your data intact.

Till now, whatever you have read sounds reasonable, right?

When Apple released iOS 5 beta, almost every firmware update was around 600 to 700MB.

iOS 6 beta updates were about 600 MB.

What about iOS 7 beta files? They were a little more, at around 900MB to 1.2GB.

Now, notice the iOS 8 beta file sizes, they are very much the same. You will also notice the next updates are smaller compared to the first version.

So what does all this mean? Looking at the pattern, does it mean you need at least 1GB free space in your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to install iOS 8? In fact, you need more than that. Here’s why:

Actual iOS File Size Vs. Extraction Size

When we first tried installing iOS 7 on our iPhone 5, which had around 1.5GB of free memory space, we thought the process would be absolutely easy… and smooth as a butter. But it was not.

Here’s the interesting part.

The iOS 7 firmware file was only 900MB in size. Still, we were not able to install it on an iPhone that had 1.5GB of free space.

There were a few reasons behind this problem. First, the  OTA update failed. A message popped up on the screen: “Software Update Failed. An error occurred downloading iOS 7.0.” There was enough space, but still we were unable to get iOS 7.


Next attempt to install iOS was through Settings -> General -> Software Update. In the Software Update page, this was the error message shown: “This update cannot be installed because it requires at least 3.1 GB of storage. You can make more storage available by deleting items in Usage Settings.”

The actual iOS file size is 900MB, while the extraction size is different. This is very important. Because we didn’t have “enough” extraction space for iOS to “open up” and settle on our iPhone, we were welcomed with that error message.

The iOS files you download must be “extracted” and for this you need at least 3 times more than the actual file size. This, of course, depends on the model of your Apple device — is it iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB storage space? Once you have the answer, you will get the “exact” space required by going to the Software Update page.

But how about another solution? A solution that will help you install iOS 8 firmware even if you have very less (or minimum) storage space? This is what you should do:

Choose Your iOS 8 Installation Method Wisely: Forget OTA, Go with iTunes!

Among the many other “methods” available, we have two popular methods through which you can install iOS 8 on your iOS device. They are as follows:

  • Install iOS 8 through iTunes
  • Install iOS 8 Over-The-Air (OTA)

Installing iOS 8 using iTunes requires you to download the IPSW file. Then, you have to go to iTunes and “Restore” this firmware. The whole process is explained in our iOS 8 Installation page.

OTA update, however, is different. What we did above was actually OTA. You have to go Software Update and use your data plan to download and install iOS files. The benefit of this is you don’t have to do anything here. Just a tap of a button is enough to get the files to download and install automatically.

Problems With iOS 8 OTA Update

One disadvantage with this OTA method is that a LOT of free space is required to install iOS. As mentioned earlier, our iOS 7 firmware (file size: 900MB) did not install properly because we needed at least 3.1GB amount of free space.

Another problem with OTA is that you constantly need Internet connection. Interruption leads to failure, and you have to start downloading the firmware files again. Using 3G, 4G, Edge data plans can be expensive, unless you are on an unlimited plan.

Even a slow WiFi can lead to failure of installation.

There’s more.

Sometimes the Apple server has too many requests, eventually slowing down the download speed and it can take too many hours to get what you want. Installing iOS 8 beta OTA was really a painful process, and the first time it took us 2+ hours.


Circling back to our main question: What installation method you should choose for iOS 8? It has to be through iTunes. You can download IPSW files of iOS 8, launch iTunes, take backups (it’s very easy), and finally transfer the iOS file into your iOS device.

This way, even if the installation fails (with iTunes error), you can re-install or go with a fresh iOS installation.

More importantly, when iOS 8 beta was launched, we were able to install the firmware on multiple iPhones, iPads (air and mini) and iPod Touch. All this is possible when you have the right IPSW file of iOS 8 and iTunes software with you. We did update iOS 8 through OTA, with free WiFi connection, but the whole process was very time consuming.

If you don’t have access to Windows or Mac desktop, and don’t have Apple iTunes installed, OTA is the right way for you.

Also, note that we will update this article whenever a new iOS 8 update is released and share with you the exact installation space the firmware occupies on our devices.

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Note: Articles written at are valid for every Apple device running iOS 8.0, iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, iOS 8.3, iOS 8.4 / 8.4.1 firmware