After owning several iPads, iPhones, iPods and iMacs, I must say that migrating from an existing iPad(s AAPL) to a new iPad was much easier this time around. There are three different paths to take: Restore from iCloud, Restore from iTunes and Set Up New. Each one has its pluses and its minuses, which I’ll walk you through below.
Copy your data before you start
Sync photos to iPhoto. While it is likely that you do not have your most treasured family photos stored in the camera roll of your old iPad (given the quality of its camera), you may still want to ensure that you have synced your photos to an iPhoto Library on your Mac. Simply attach your iPad to your Mac via USB, open iPhoto on the Mac, select the iPad on the left and click on Import Photos on the right.
Import photos via Image Capture. If you are not a fan of iPhoto, or you do not want to sync your iPad photos to your iPhoto Library, you can use the Image Capture app on your Mac to export your photos to a folder anywhere on your Mac. Launch Image Capture and attach your iPad via USB to your Mac. Select a destination folder and Import All.
Save an app’s data files via iTunes. Many apps on your iPad will allow you to access your files via your Mac from within iTunes. From document files to images to waypoints and tracks, iTunes can provide convenient access to the documents stored on your iPad. Attach your iPad to your Mac via USB and launch iTunes. On the bottom of the Apps tab for the iPad you just attached, you will see a list of apps that support syncing docs via iTunes. Select the docs you want to save and copy them to a folder on your Mac.
Sync purchases to iTunes. It may be that you have yet to sign up for an iCloud account, you have not been tempted by iTunes Match, and you still manage your music, videos, books and apps by syncing your iPad to your Mac’s iTunes Library. If so, you will want to ensure that your latest purchases have been synced to your Mac’s iTunes Library. To do this, click on your iPad in iTunes and select Transfer Purchases from the menu.
iCloud backup and restore
With iOS 5 and the introduction of iCloud, Apple has made backing up an iPad to your iCloud account possible. These backups are done automatically when your iPad is connected to both a power source and a WiFi connection. Before you start up your new iPad, you will want to make sure that you have a recent backup of your old iPad.
- Setup an iCloud account on your iPad if you have not done so already.
- In the Settings app, click on iCloud and select the Storage and Backup setting.
- Review your most recent back up by selecting Manage Backups.
- Select Back Up Now if this is your first backup or if it has been a while since your last backup.
Since most ISPs do not offer fast upload speeds, this may take a while depending on how much information you have stored on your iPad and how long it has been since your last backup. And that is the downside of this technique: network speed. Once the backup is complete, you can start your new iPad for the first time and select Restore from iCloud Backup when prompted. If you have already started using your new iPad, you will need to access the Reset menu located in the General settings on the iPad in order to select Erase All Content and Settings. This is a great solution if you are out and about and want to get started using your new iPad before you have a chance to get home and sync to tour Mac.
iTunes backup and restore
A benefit of tethering your iPad to a Mac is that you will not have to re-download all of your apps when your settings and configurations are re-established.
- Connect your old iPad to your Mac via USB and launch iTunes.
- Select the iPad and choose Backup from the menu.
- Ensure that all of your apps are up-to-date by selecting Apps in iTunes and clicking on Check for Updates.
Once the backup is complete, you can start your new iPad for the first time and elect Restore from iTunes Backup when prompted. If you have already started using your new iPad, you will need to access the Reset menu located in the General settings on the iPad in order to select Erase All Content and Settings. The only downside here is that you need to tether both your old as well as your new iPad to your Mac. Given that all of your apps are up-to-date on your Mac’s iTunes library, this is likely the fastest way to transfer all of your apps and data to your new iPad.
Start over with a fresh new iPad
The most time-consuming way to migrate from an existing iPad to a new iPad is to start over fresh and reconfigure your new iPad from scratch. What you will discover in both the iCloud as well as the iTunes backup before this setup method is that the new iPad will forget all of your passwords. So in both situations it would be wise to invest in some sort of password manager and get all of your accounts in order prior to migrating.
But for some, this may be a great time to start over and rediscover your iPad. Get rid of the apps you never use by installing only the ones you cannot live without. Even when starting over fresh, you will instantly have access to all of your Mail, Contact, Calendars, Notes reminders and Bookmarks via iCloud. All of your photos will be there waiting for you via Photo Stream. You music library is accessible via iTunes Match. And any prior App, iBook Music and Video purchases will be available to download again from the App Store.
The three options available should suit most needs. If you are on the go and want to migrate all of your current apps and settings, then restore from iCloud. If you have a lot of large apps and a slow internet connection, consider restoring from an iTunes backup instead. But if you have the time to invest, start fresh and only install the apps you really like. You may just find that backing up your iPad is becoming less and less important.