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Remove and Prevent Download of an Unwanted iOS 7 Update Installer in iOS 6

In perhaps an unfriendly move by Apple, iOS 6 devices that are charging and connected to wifi get the possibly unwanted benefit of receiving the iOS 7 Update Installer that will sit on the device and take up valuable storage space in addition to the continual nagging of a red alert icon. There are some good reasons not to upgrade to iOS 7 on older devices.

  • iOS 7 may not run well on less powerful devices.
  • The new operating system brings changes that may be unwelcome.
  • Developers, like myself, may want to maintain an iOS 6 installation for testing.

It is perhaps as difficult as it can possibly be to prevent this from happening, but I’ve come up with a solution that can successfully remove the unwanted update installer and prevent it from being downloaded again without requiring any jailbreaking.

Disclaimer: I’m only sharing my experience and make no guarantees that it will work for anyone else.

This procedure will help if you want to prevent downloading of the iOS 7 installer and you use the same wifi network all of the time while the device is plugged-in and you are able to change the access settings for the network. It is convenient because it blocks the update using the MAC address of the device and doesn’t affect other devices. I’m able to stay connected to wifi and to keep the device plugged in. I’m happy with my iPad 3 running iOS 6.1.3 without having the latest iOS 7 installer taking up 3 GB of space! The benefits of the procedure have been:

  • Recovery of valuable storage capacity.
  • Retention of iOS 6 as the running operating system.
  • Accumulated cruft on the device is cleared out. This procedure has rejuvenated my iPad 3 by recovering a huge amount of storage space and the iPad is now overall more enjoyable to use.

On my iPad 3, I was missing around 10 GB of storage and was unable to regain the capacity using iTunes and even Xcode. There were leftover apps that I had worked on littered all over the place and nothing seemed to be able to get rid of them. Following this procedure helped me remove all of them and recover my storage capacity. With the additional removal of the iOS 7 Update Installer along with compressing my music, I have more than 19 GB free whereas before I was down to 4 GB.

The procedure involves three parts and I will describe each step I performed as it applies to an iPad and a DD-WRT wifi router.

1. Remove the Existing, Unwanted iOS 7 Update Installer.

First, create a backup of the device using Back Up Now in iTunes.

Then, reset all settings and erase all content by selecting Erase All Content and Settings.

2. Prevent Further Downloading of the iOS 7 Update Installer

The iOS 7 installer will be automatically downloaded when the device is charging and connected to wifi.

Others have mentioned the ability to prevent downloading of this installer by filling up the storage so the installer can no longer be downloaded. I found this to be unacceptable. The excess amount of time it would take to perform backups, due to more space being needed to back everything up, along with losing all the free space wouldn’t be worth it to me. And it is not an option for me to always run in airplane mode or to not keep my device charging.

Block Future Downloads

Using your wireless router settings, find the MAC address of the device you don’t want to update. Set up a filter so that will be blocked for that device at all times. This is the address where the update installer download comes from. Blocking the update site like this is the most convenient way because it doesn’t affect any other devices other than the one you specify. I’m showing how this can be accomplished on a router running DD-WRT software. Other routers will be appropriately different.

3. Restoring the Device

The iPad will restart and be in factory fresh condition in terms of its software. The following steps, outlined below, will then be presented. The only option that might effect the outcome of preventing the automatic download of the installer is when choosing a network.

  • Choose a network: Don’t connect to a wifi network at this time unless you have already blocked
  • Location services.
  • Setup as a new iPad: At this point there is an option to restore from a backup. I didn’t restore at this point and instead restored from a backup, using iTunes, once my iPad was running again.
  • Terms and Conditions.
  • Siri.
  • Diagnostics.

Now is the time to restore from a backup using Restore Backup in iTunes, if you selected Setup as a New iPad during the setup of the device.

When all the steps in the procedure are complete, you will know you have succeeded in blocking the download of the iOS 7 Update Installer when the Software Update in the General settings reports an error when checking for an update.

Congratulations! You can now continue using iOS 6 without losing your storage capacity from an unwanted iOS 7 Update Installer. There will still be an alert icon for the update, but no update or update installer download will take place until is unblocked in your router settings.

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Tags: ios 6, ios 7, ios 7 update installer, ipad, iphone


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Comment by Daniel Zhang (張道博) on March 5, 2014 at 3:16pm

That's a good point, Brian, about security updates. Apple cuts off support for older versions relatively quickly.

Comment by Brian on January 12, 2014 at 1:56am

Just keep in mind you won't get any security updates for IOS6 this way either. Also it won't do you much good if you travel/use other WiFi.

You could configure a proxy that blocked their update server and create an MDM profile that forced all traffic through it. Quite the bottleneck though. If you could reroute DNS that would be better but off-hand not sure if you can force a DNS resolver w/MDM.


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