The Definitive Guide: How to Back Up Your iPad Device

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You’re going to want to back up your iPad, keeping those crucial files and personal media safe and sound. Here’s a detailed guide on how to create a backup and restore iPad data with the official and third-party tools at your disposal.

Our devices are essentially an extension of who we are as a person, since they carry around all essential information about us. From social media accounts and contacts, to email accounts and personal images and videos – your smartphone or tablet hosts your entire virtual life in it. Apple understands the importance of keeping your private data safe and secure, which is why the iPhone and the iPad offer a way to back up all of your content.

Mishaps are a part of life, and you can end up losing access to your iPad, along with all of the content in it. Apple has extended the ability of iCloud into the iPadOS, allowing you to backup essential data and information from the iDevice to the cloud. The ability to back up your iPad is also crucial when you’re migrating to a newer device, and want to move every last bit of data from the older device.

An iCloud backup might be the most convenient solution out there, but it is even more restrictive than the traditional method of using iTunes to backup iPad and iPhone. We’re here to help you discover in detail, every available option to create a backup and recover iPad data, with an inside look into third-party solutions to simplify the process significantly.

Back-Up iPad Using iCloud

The reason cloud backup was created in the first place is to make data backup seamless and an invisible process that works in the background. Apple iCloud is no different, synced with the Apple ID you use with the iDevice and actively uploads your essential data, media content, and preferred settings, without having to plug into a computer.

How to back up data on iPad using iCloud

Ideally, the iCloud backup would be turned on by default on your iPad, but if you aren’t sure if this is the case, you can also manually turn it on. Furthermore, Apple also gives you the ability to choose the type of data backed up to the cloud.

  1. From the Home screen, head over to the Settings app.
  2. Tap the name of the Apple ID you see at the top of the left panel.
  3. Now on the right side of the screen, you can view the iCloud tab.
  4. Within the iCloud settings, you can see a list of apps, from which you can select the ones you wish to back up.
  5. Tap on the toggle switch next to each app that you want to back up to iCloud.
  6. Now, please tap on the iCloud Backup icon and turn on the toggle switch next to it.
  7. Furthermore, tap on the Back Up Now option to manually sync all user data to your iCloud account.

Under the “Back Up Now” button, you can see the date and time of the last successful backup iCloud have performed on your iPad.

How to restore iCloud data on a new iPad

After creating a successful iCloud backup of the iPad, you can use the Apple ID associated with the iPad to restore the content on a different iDevice. iCloud service works universally across iPadOS, iOS, and macOS X so that you can sync the data across them seamlessly, and here’s how to get started:

  1. On the new iPad or iPhone, press the Home button on the “Hello” screen.
  2. Select the Language and then pick the Country or Region you reside in.
  3. Follow it by choosing the Wi-Fi Network to set things up.
  4. You will be asked the option to Restore from iCloud Backup on the Apps & Data screen.
  5. Enter your Apple ID and Password and press the Next button.
  6. Agree to the terms and conditions, and select the latest iPad Backup from the list available, based on the date and time.
  7. The restoring process will now begin, during which the iPad may reboot.
  8. You can now see the Update Complete screen, so press Continue to get started.

After the Home screen appears, you will be greeted with a pop-up notifying you that iCloud is Restoring Apps and Media to the iPad.

Note: iCloud will be able to back up all of the content you select from the Settings, such as Apps, Books, Photos, Notes, Videos, App Data, Messages, Contacts, and Music & TV Shows purchased from iTunes. However, it will not be able to back up media files that you had synced from a computer.

Back-Up iPad Using iTunes / Finder

Before the days of cloud storage, Apple offered the iTunes app to Windows and macOS users to update the iDevice and backup and restore apps, data, and media content.

For Windows & macOS Mojave or older: use iTunes

Although Apple has decided to do away with iTunes on the latest macOS versions, the app is still available for devices running Windows and macOS Mojave and older.

  1. Connect the iPad to the computer using a USB cable.
  2. Launch the iTunes app on the computer (Download Link).
  3. The iPad icon should appear in the top bar of the iTunes app, so click on it.
  4. On the sidebar, select the Summary tab.
  5. Under the Backups section, select This Computer to back up your files to the computer’s physical storage.
  6. Click on Back Up Now to begin the process, and wait as iTunes creates a backup of the iPad data.

Wait until the status at the top of the iTunes app completes, before you disconnect the iPad from the computer.

How to restore iTunes backup data on the new iPad

Restoring the data, you have backed up is relatively straightforward, and here’s how you go about it:

  1. Use a USB cable to connect the iPad to the computer.
  2. Launch iTunes on the computer.
  3. Click on the iPad icon that appears at the top of the iTunes window.
  4. Access the Summary tab on the sidebar.
  5. In the Backups section click on the Restore Backup button.  
  6. Select the iPad name and press the Restore button to begin.

Please wait for the entire process to complete, after which you can eject the iPad from iTunes and disconnect the cable to use it.

Note: iTunes may ask you to turn off Find My iPad before the backup restore can be performed. To do so, you will need to head over to Settings to tap on your Apple ID, and then navigate to iCloud – Find My iPad and turn off the toggle switch.

For macOS Catalina or newer: use Finder

Apple has dissolved the iTunes app and broken down Podcasts, TV, and Music features into separate apps.

On macOS Catalina and newer versions, the ability to backup and restore data to your iPhone or iPad is now the responsibility of the Finder app.

  1. Connect the iPad to the computer using a USB cable.
  2. Open the Finder app from the dock.
  3. Under the Locations section in the sidebar, click the iPad icon.
  4. Access the General tab and under the Backups section, check the box that reads “Back up all of the data on your iPad to this Mac.”
  5. Press Back Up Now to begin the process.

How to restore data on the new iPad with Finder

Similarly, the Finder app also allows you to restore content to your iPad from previously backed up data:

  1. Connect the iPad to the computer using a USB cable.
  2. Launch the Finder app from the dock.
  3. In the Locations section of the sidebar, click the iPad icon.
  4. View the General tab and click on the Restore Backup button under the Backups section.
  5. Confirm the version of the backup you are looking to retrieve and click on Restore to continue.

Wait for the restore process to be completed, after which you can press the Eject button and safely disconnect the iPad from the computer.

Back-Up iPad to Mac/PC/External Drive/NAS Using iMazing

Whether you consider the iCloud option to create a backup of your personal content or take the iTunes/Finder route to create a backup, it doesn’t offer much flexibility. The demand for a more straightforward and non-Apple solution to backing up data and media content from the iPad to a computer has led to apps such as iMazing.

How to back up data on iPad using iMazing
  1. Download and install iMazing on your Windows or Mac computer (Download Link).
  2. Launch the iMazing app and connect the iPad to the computer with a USB cable.
  3. For those using iMazing for the first time, you will need to tap on “Trust” on the iPad screen to proceed.
  1. iMazing will ask you to create a backup of the iPad right away, which you can do by pressing the Back Up Now button.
  2. Additionally, you can click on Later and continue to the iMazing home screen.
  3. Proceed by clicking on Back Up and selecting through the Options list.
  4. You can choose between options to create Automatic Backups, change the Backup Location, set up a Wi-Fi Connection between the iPad and iMazing tool, and more.  
  5. After confirming your selections, press the Back Up button.
  6. The iMazing tool will now prepare a backup of the iPad, so do not disconnect the device just yet.
  7. Once the backup is complete, click the Done button, and you’re all set.
How to restore data on the new iPad with iMazing
  1. Launch the iMazing app and connect the iPad to the computer with a USB cable.
  2. Click on the iPad icon you see in the left sidebar.
  3. Select the option to Restore a Backup from the list of settings.
  4. iMazing will allow you to pick from iPad Backups you have made using the tool in the past or Other Backups available in the folder.
  5. Select the backup file you want to restore and press the Choose button.
  6. The Restore Options screen will allow you to handpick the Data (Accounts, Calendars, Contacts, Keychain, Messages, Notes, etc.) and the Apps stored in the backup file.
  7. You can even choose to erase the iPad or rename it if you like and press Next to go on.
  8. iMazing may ask you turn off Find My iPad by navigating to Settings – Apple ID – Find My iPad by pressing the toggle switch.
  9. Finally, confirm your action by pressing the Restore button.

The iPad screen will flash the message “Restore in Progress” and reboot once the process is completed.

Final Words

Apple has designed the iPad to make it accessible to every group and cater to the user’s different requirements. You could either be a parent looking to safely back up all of your cherished photos from the family iPad device, or may need to store critical data and media content you use every day for work on your iPad Pro – backing up data is essential.

iCloud – Convenient but far from perfect

The solution to seamlessly back up data from your iPad is unmatched in practicality and ease of use. Just turn on the iCloud toggle, and you never have to worry about losing personal data, photos, videos, and app data ever again.

However, a free iCloud user is capped at just 5GB of storage, which is laughable, to say the least. Although there is some control that you do have over the data that iCloud backs up from the iPad, it isn’t customizable enough. Moreover, there isn’t a way to back up local files and media that you may have synced from iTunes or Finder on macOS.

iTunes/Finder – Dependable but restrictive

The oldest method to create a backup of the iPad data on a computer, using iTunes or Finder on macOS Catalina or newer, is an old-timer’s solution. The benefit of having the backup physically stored on the computer hard disk does have its perks, since it allows you to create a complete backup, and not just handpicked elements that iCloud wishes to allow. However, the most significant caveat is that there isn’t much control over the backup file you are creating.

iMazing – Our preferred choice

For those who have been Apple users long enough to despise iTunes’ constrictive nature and everything that it stands for, a third-party backup tool is the only way out. iMazing is a service that we prefer, since it is designed with the iPhone and iPad ecosystem in mind, built with complex features, yet offered in a simplified user interface.

The ability to quickly transfer content between iOS devices is made possible with iMazing and the rock-solid backup tools built with complete customization in mind. The all-in-one iPad management tool, manages all of your installed apps, allows you to create automatic backups wirelessly, allows encrypting backup files for an added layer of security, and functions as a full-fledged file explorer for your iDevices.

Sure, iMazing does come at a price for the lifetime license, but if you are serious about ditching iTunes for good and don’t want to end up paying all your life for iCloud storage, in our opinion, this iPad backup tool is second to none.

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