Blog Post

Transfer your old data to your new iPad

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.

Setup New iPad

Copy your data before you start

It is a good idea to copy as much of your old data off of your iOS device before you get started.  Sure, there are backups, but accessing individual data files from a backup can be time consuming.

Sync with iPhoto

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 with Image Capture

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 iTunes Docs

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

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.

Setup via iCloud

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.

Setup via iTunes

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.

Setup New iPad

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.

11 Responses to “Transfer your old data to your new iPad”

  1. I have two iPads and I shared some apps from my itune log in A to my itunes log in B and so if the app was synced from iPad A then if I have an update it asks for password from iPad A instead of my actual password. Is there anyway to change this to just use my password for iPad B..?

  2. Shamblesguru

    Note … there is almost 1GB less available space on a NEW iPad compared to an iPad2 … so easier to fill up … and if you are close to the limit then it seels the Apps are the last thing to load … and so won’t if you do not have enough space …. I NEED 128GB!

  3. 'Ken Ang'

    Hi, I have sent my ipad for servicing and I expected them to change a new one for me, but they didn’t. I have deleted some important things in Calendar, and Mail. I did a backup before I sent it in, so I should have everything in the backup. The problem is when they returned the iPad to me, I wanted to do a ‘Restore from Backup’, and when I connected the iPad, it did an auto backup again even though I kept clicking cancel. (Damn) So now when I click restore from backup, it only allows me to restore from the latest backup which was the wrong one. I have located the file in my PC, but I just can’t seem to find it in iTunes! Help please!

  4. I will try your suggestions, however, i am selling my ipad 2 b4 i have bought my ipad 3, and i want to sell it without my apps, if i delete them on the ipad after i have tranferred them to my mac via icloud or, is that ok?

  5. You can use the iPhone Backup Extractor third party app to recover your apps data from your backup, then import it to your new iPad. It should be easy!

  6. Captain

    Migrating apps and settings from an older iPad to the New iPad was easy using the steps above (either iCloud or tethered ti iTunes). One aspect of the process I have not seen addressed is the naming convention for the devices. Is there any best practices in terms of whether I should re-name the New iPad or the old iPad? When doing the ‘restore from backup’ the device name is copied to the new device. Thus – two iPads in the house with the same name. Suggestions?

    • I keep them uniquely named for a variety of reasons. One is for network identification, another is for find my iPad, and there is also the need to distinguish the name of the backup file. If you do happen to name them all the same, I don’t think it will hurt anything.

  7. I have about 400 hundred apps classified in folders and I did the iTunes backup and restore but they don’t transfer the apps. Is weird because in iPad 1 I remember i did it to iPad 2 and now it doesn’t do it to the new iPad

    • The apps did not come directly from the backup for me, but it did keep all of my folders in tact and it did create images of the apps that were all pending, downloading, or installing. It did take longer over the network, but all of my apps did eventually show up.

  8. Hi, I just bought a new iPad and i tried to transfer all the apps from my iPad 2 to the new one and it just don’t happens. I did all the backup and restore thing and it doesnt work. I called apple and they say that the apps won’t transfer to the new one, are you aware of this?