Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

Is it risky to install iOS, iPadOS, and macOS updates while working from home?

Yesterday saw Apple release a flurry of patches for the iPhone, iPad, Macs, and other devices. But should you install them while working from home? Will battery life, performance, or reliability be affected? Here are my thoughts and some tips to upgrade safely.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has put a pause on a lot of things, but it hasn't stopped Apple pushing out updates. Yesterday saw Apple push out iOS 13.4, iPadOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.4, watchOS 6.2, and tvOS 13.4, updating pretty much everything in the Apple line in one fell swoop.

For people stuck at home looking for something to do, it might seem like a good way to fill a few hours, but at a time when people are being encouraged to work from home and to self-isolate, and during a period when Apple Stores are shut, is it a good idea to be applying patches that could make the device you are relying on for work go flaky?

Being in the UK and under a government-mandated self-isolation lockdown, of course I did downloaded and installed the updates on everything.

But, I'm not carefree. I've been bitten by Apple updates in the past. Burned quite hard. Apple has released some terrible updates in the past. So, I did take some precautions before pulling the trigger on the updates.

As a side note, I have updated all my devices -- iOS and macOS -- and I've not yet come across a showstopping bug. Devices all came back to life after the update and nothing obvious seems broken. Battery life so far looks good, as does performance.

#1: Backups

Make sure you have an up-to-date backup, either in the cloud or local. Also, make sure you know how to recover from that backup (here's Apple's instructions for iPhone and iPad, and Macs).

If you mess up, you'll be recovering your device from scratch and that's going to take time and effort.

You've been warned.

Must read: Coronavirus social distancing got you down? Tips and tricks to help you get through it

#2: Take time

You can't rush these updates. Don't pull the trigger on them if you have something planned for the next hour or so. Wait until the evening or when you've finished for the day.

#3: Start with less important devices

If your main device is your laptop, don't start there. Also, do one device at a time -- don't juggle between multiple devices. It's not that urgent.

#4: Wait

Sure, there's a raft of security updates baked into these updates, and no doubt the bad guys will be looking to leverage the weaknesses in older platforms. But do you have a few days for others to go first and test the waters before it becomes wise to update. And if there's something catastrophic going on, I've no doubt that Apple would get a patch out soon.

#5: If things go bad, turn to support

Whether that be Apple or your IT support at work. Turning to Dr Google is a fast-track highway to a lot of wasted time and a lot of headaches.

Any tips? Let me know below.

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