iCloud: How to Backup and Restore Your iPad

Woman using tablet with wifi symbol at home
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If you chose to have your iPad backed up to the iCloud when setting the iPad up for the first time, you should already have regular backups stored on the iCloud. However, if you chose to skip that step, it is rather easy to set up the iPad to automatically back itself up to iCloud. (And if you are unsure, just follow these steps and you will confirm you have it set up correctly.)

How to Automatically Backup Your iPad With iCloud

  1. Open Settings on your iPad.

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  2. Tap your name at the top of the left column.

    Apple ID in Settings on an iPad
  3. Tap iCloud.

    iCloud in iPad settings
  4. The iCloud settings let you choose what you want to back up, including contacts, calendar events, bookmarks in the Safari browser, and items in the Notes app. By default, most of these will be on.

  5. Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup.

    iCloud Backup on iPad
  6. Turn automatic backups for your iPad on or off by tapping the slider button next to iCloud Backup. When on, the iPad will back itself up when it is plugged into a wall outlet or to a computer.

    iCloud Backup on iPad
  7. Tap Back Up Now to perform an immediate backup.

    Manual backup on iPad
  8. In the future, your iPad will back itself up automatically. The text below Back Up Now will tell you the date and time of the last backup.

How to Restore an iPad From an iCloud Backup

Restoring an iPad from an iCloud backup begins by wiping the iPad, which puts it into the same state it was when you first took it out of the box.

Perform a manual backup before you reset your iPad to prevent losing any photos or data.

  1. Open Settings.

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  2. Tap General.

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  3. Tap Reset, and then tap Erase All Content and Settings.

    Erase all settings and content on iPad
  4. Confirm your choice, and the iPad will clear itself.

Once the iPad finishes erasing the data, you will be taken to the same screen you were at when you first got your iPad. As you set up the iPad, it will give you the choice to restore the tablet from a backup. This option appears after you have signed into your Wi-Fi network and chosen whether or not to use location services.

When you choose to restore from a backup, you will see a screen where you can choose from your last backup or one of your previous ones.

If you are restoring from a backup because you have run into problems with your iPad that you can only resolve by deleting it, choose your latest backup first. If your iPad still doesn't work correctly, you can move on to the next most recent backup, repeating the process until the problem clears.

Restoring from a backup can take some time. The process uses your Wi-Fi connection to download settings, content, and data. If you had a lot of content on your iPad, this can take a while. The restore screen should give you estimates at each stage of the restore process, starting with restoring the settings and then booting into the iPad. When the iPad home screen appears, the iPad will continue the restore process by downloading all of your applications.

If you do run into a problem with this stage, you can download an application again from the App Store for free. You can also sync apps from iTunes on your PC. The restoring process also replaces photos and other data, so if it doesn't look like it's making progress, the iPad could be working on downloading more than just apps.