PSA: Don't install the iOS 11 beta on your primary device

As tempting as it may be to install Apple's latest software, it's not the best idea to do so on your main device. Here's why.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
2 min read
Watch this: The best parts of iOS 11 on iPhone

Apple on Monday opened testing of iOS 11 to the general public. (Read our first impressions on how it changes the iPhone and the iPad.) Signing up and installing the beta takes just a few minutes of your time. However, it's important to remember that a public beta -- regardless of how stable it may seem -- can wreak havoc on your device and, potentially, the data stored on it.  

Instead, the best approach to helping Apple beta test its software is to use a secondary device, such as an old iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch. Still tempted? Here are a few reasons why it's a good idea to wait or, at the very least, not install a public beta on your main devices. 

Bugs! Bugs everywhere! 

The quality of early iOS betas has improved drastically over the years, but the software is still labeled as a beta for a reason: it's not done and it's not always going to behave as it should. Some bugs can impact Apple's own apps and services, while others break third-party apps. For example, 9to5Mac recently published the release notes for the second developer beta of iOS 11 and it lists issues with apps from Tweetbot to Square Cash. Things are going to break, and it may be a long time before Apple fixes them. 

Battery life is a drain

One of the last things to improve during the beta process is battery life. Apple implements new features and interface tweaks, and then once it all begins to come together it tackles improving battery life. 

iOS 11's best features for iPhone and iPad

See all photos

Data loss is real

You always run the chance of losing data when testing beta software. In the past, I've personally lost countless photos and documents when testing a beta version of iOS and iCloud Drive. I had a backup of everything, but it was a stark reminder that beta testing can not only force you to encounter bugs where apps don't work, but also delete files without any warning at all. 

Going back to iOS 10 is a hassle

Once you opt into the beta program and upgrade, you're not stuck on iOS 11, but if you decide you want to downgrade the only way to do so is with a complete factory reset. And any backups created by iOS 11 cannot be restored to iOS 10. In other words, you'll be forced to either reset and set up as a brand new device or restore to the latest iOS 10 backup you have. Neither solution is ideal.