As summer winds down and autumn kicks in, it’s time for another iOS update. And, just as predictably, a lot of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners will want to make the leap from the previous operating system to the new one. If tradition holds, Apple will release iOS 8 at around 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern) on Wednesday, and when it does, this guide will show you the way.

The limited path back

Because it comes as a surprise to a lot of people, it’s important to know the following from the get-go: Once you update your device to iOS 8 there’s very little chance that you’ll be able to revert to a previous version. Apple stops “signing” (authorizing) older versions of iOS just days after releasing a new one. Reverting during this brief window is possible (and we’ll explain how at the end of this story). But once that window closes, there’s no going back.

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