How to Upgrade to a New iPad

A variety of different iPad Pros

 Apple, Inc.

It is not uncommon to feel some anxiety when upgrading to a new device. After all, upgrading a PC can easily turn into a multi-day affair. It can take a full day to simply install all of the software again. The good news is that you won't need to suffer through that process again. Apple has made it quite easy to upgrade your iPad. In fact, now that there are three different sizes, the hardest part might be picking out the best iPad model to buy.

The Quickest Way to Upgrade Your iPad

While it is tempting to pull out that shiny new iPad and start playing with it, the first thing you will want to do is back up your old iPad. The iPad should do regular backups to iCloud any time it is left plugged in to charge, but it is a good idea to do a fresh backup right before upgrading to a new iPad.

First, open the Settings app. The backup feature is located under iCloud in the left-side menu. When you have the iCloud settings up, tap the Backup option. It's is just above Find My iPad and Keychain. There are only two options in the Backup settings: A slider for turning automatic backups on or off and a "Back Up Now" button. After you tap the backup button, the iPad will give you an estimate of how long the process will take. If you don't have a lot of music or photos loaded on your iPad, it should be fairly quick.

After you have a recent backup, you can begin the setup process on the new iPad. Apple didn't hide the restore functionality. Instead, the embedded it into the setup process, which makes it very easy to use. 

After you log in to your Wi-Fi network, you will be asked during the initialization process if you want to restore your iPad from a backup, set it up as a new iPad or upgrade from Android. After choosing to use a backup, you will need to sign into the same Apple ID account as you used to create the backup. 

The backup files are listed with the date and time they were made. You can use this information to verify that you are picking the correct backup file.

Restoring from a backup is a two-part process. During part one, the iPad restores data and settings. After the iPad set up process is complete, the second part of the restore starts. This is when the iPad will start downloading apps and music. You will be able to use the iPad during this time, but downloading new apps from the App Store may take a bit more time until the restore process finishes.

Do You Even Want to Restore Your iPad?

We've gone through the upgrade process with every generation of iPad since the original was debuted, but we haven't always restored from a backup. As we use our iPad, it becomes filled with apps. Many times, with apps that we use a few times and then forget about it. If you have pages and pages of apps you no longer use, you might want to think about starting from scratch.

This isn't as scary as it seems. We store more and more of our data on the cloud, so getting documents back on the iPad could be as simple as signing into your account. As long as you sign into the same iCloud account, you can access the information from your Notes and Calendar apps. You can also get at any document stored on iCloud Drive. Apps like Evernote store the documents on the cloud as well, so they are easily accessed.

Whether or not you can choose this route will depend mostly on how you used your iPad. If you have your photos stored in iCloud Photo Library, and mostly use your iPad for web browsing, Facebook, email, and games, you won't have much problem. But if you've done work in a third-party app that doesn't utilize the cloud to store documents, you will need to follow the full upgrade process.

And what about all of those apps? Once you purchase an app, you are free to download it again on any new device. The App Store even has a "previously purchased" list that makes this process super easy.

You can also try it out to see how you like it. The backup from your old iPad will still be there, and if you find data missing that you can't transfer over via iCloud Drive, Dropbox or a similar method, you can reset your new iPad to factory default (Settings App -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings) and choose to restore from the backup when you go through the setup process again.

What Should You Do With Your Old iPad?

Many people upgrade to a new device with the idea that the old device will split some of the costs. The easiest way to pay for part of your new iPad is to sell your old one through a trade-in program. Most trade-in programs are fairly easy to use, but you won't get the full value for your device. The alternatives are eBay, which allows you to put the tablet up for auction, and Craigslist, which is basically the classified ads for the digital age. You might also try Facebook Marketplace and any of a variety of online sales sites.

If you plan to sell using Craiglist, keep in mind that some police departments allow you to meet the buyer at the police station to do the exchange. Also, some communities are starting to create exchange zones to make the exchange as safe as possible.