How to Encrypt Your iPad

Secure your device with iPad encryption

What to Know

  • iPad encryption turns on when passcode is enabled. Settings > Face ID/Touch ID & Passcode > Turn Passcode On > set a passcode.
  • Encrypt iPad backups on computer from iPad management screen. Backups, check box next to Encrypt local backup > enter password.
  • Other security options include Find My iPad and automatic deletion of data when an incorrect password is entered.

This article explains the encryption options available on the iPad and how to use them. With so much personal data stored on our iPads, protecting them from prying eyes is crucial. Here's what you need to know about using encryption on the iPad.

Are Apple iPads Encrypted?

Encryption is a security tool that protects data and devices unless the user enters a password or other information to unlock them. The stronger the encryption, the harder it is to break into the device. Some of the most common kinds of encryption are file encryption and end-to-end message encryption, like the kind used by Apple's iMessage.

By default, iPads are not encrypted. However, there is powerful encryption built into the iPad and it's very simple to enable. All you need to do is set up a passcode on your iPad. Once you do that, all of the data on your iPad is automatically encrypted.

Can You Encrypt Files on iPad?

When you use the iPad's built-in encryption, you don't encrypt one file at a time. Instead, you encrypt the entire iPad, which provides better security. Follow these steps to encrypt an iPad:

  1. Tap Settings.

    iPad home screen with Settings highlighted
  2. Tap Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode, depending on your model).

    iPad settings with Face ID & Passcode highlighted
  3. Tap Turn Passcode On.

    iPad Face ID & Passcode settings with Turn Passcode On highlighted
  4. Enter the passcode you want. It should be hard to guess, but easy for you to remember.

    iPad Face ID & Passcode settings with passcode entry field highlighted

    Your passcode is the basis for iPad encryption. The longer your passcode, the more powerful the encryption. Use at least 6 digits. Make a passcode shorter, or add letters and numbers, by tapping Passcode Options.

  5. Enter your passcode a second time to confirm. The iPad will take a few seconds to apply the passcode and encrypt your data.

  6. When the button reads Turn Passcode Off, your passcode was successfully enabled. Look at the very bottom of the screen: Data protection is enabled confirms that your iPad is encrypted.

    iPad settings with "Data protection is enabled highlighted"

    Once you've got a passcode, turning it off requires entering both your Apple ID and the passcode. A thief or hacker probably won't have both. That's pretty secure!

How Do I Secure My iPad?

Encrypting your iPad is an important step, but it's not the only way to secure your iPad. Apple provides other options to protect yourself. Here are some of the most useful.

  1. Use Face ID or Touch ID. Face ID and Touch ID make the iPad even more secure. Remember the longer your passcode, the more secure your iPad? Well, if you use Face ID or Touch ID to unlock your iPad, you can use a really long, really secure passcode and strengthen your security and not be inconvenienced very often by having to enter that long password.

  2. Change Auto-Lock Setting. Control how long your iPad screen stays on before it automatically locks. The faster it locks, the less likely that someone can grab your unlocked iPad and access your data. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Unlock > choose the shortest time you want.

  3. Set Data to Auto Delete. If someone does get your iPad, a strong passcode will protect you. You can get even more protection by setting your iPad to automatically delete its data after 10 wrong passcode attempts. Do this at Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode) > move the Erase Data slider to on/green > Enable.

  4. Encrypt iPad Backups. While your iPad files are encrypted with a passcode, your backups may not be. All iCloud backups are automatically encrypted, but if you backup to your computer, you need to take another step. Connect your iPad to your computer, then go to iTunes (on Windows and older Macs) or the Finder (on newer Macs) > iPad management screen > in the Backups section, check the box next to Encrypt local backup > enter the password you want to use for the backup twice.

  5. Use Find My iPad. Find My iPad lets you track a lost or stolen iPad. Even better, it lets you remotely delete all files from a stolen iPad. You'll probably set up Find My iPad when setting up your iPad, and you can learn how to use Find My iPad to delete data.

  • Where are security settings on an iPad?

    Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode to configure Face ID and passcode settings. Go to Settings > Screen Time to set parental controls and restrictions. Go to Settings > Privacy to control location services and privacy settings for Contacts, Camera, Photos, and more.

  • How do I unlock an iPad without a passcode?

    If you need to unlock an iPad without a passcode, you'll have to resort to factory resetting the iPad. This puts your iPad into Recovery Mode and completely erases your iPad's data. If your iPad is temporarily disabled because you've entered an incorrect passcode too many times, but you think you know the right passcode, wait for the "temporarily disabled" message to go away, then try entering the correct passcode again.

  • How do I factory reset an iPad without the passcode?

    If your iPad has Face ID, press and hold the Top button and Volume Down button (without Face ID, press and hold the Top button), and then slide the Power Off toggle. While holding down the Top button (if you have Face ID) or Home button (without Face ID), connect the iPad to a computer via a cable; you'll see the Recovery Mode screen. Follow the onscreen prompts on your computer to factory reset the iPad.

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