What does restore mean on iPad?

Restoring an iPad refers to the process of erasing all data and settings on the device and returning it to its original factory settings. This is generally done to troubleshoot issues, before selling or giving away the iPad, or simply for a fresh start. There are a few different ways to restore an iPad depending on the model and version of iOS.

Reasons to Restore an iPad

Here are some of the most common reasons you may need to restore your iPad:

  • To fix software issues – Restoring can fix bugs, glitches, and other software problems.
  • Before selling or gifting – Wipes all personal data and starts fresh for the new owner.
  • Removing passcode – Allows resetting a forgotten passcode.
  • Stuck on load screen – Can resolve an iPad stuck on Apple logo screen.
  • Clearing storage space – Deletes all data and apps to free up storage.
  • Fix app issues – Apps sometimes have issues that restoring can fix.

How to Backup iPad Before Restoring

It’s highly recommended to backup your iPad data before restoring. This preserves your data, settings, photos, app info and more. Here are ways to backup an iPad:

  • iCloud Backup – If enabled, iCloud automatically backs up iPad. Check by going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
  • iTunes Backup – Connect iPad to computer and backup with iTunes. Go to Summary tab and click Back Up Now.
  • Encrypted Backup – For extra security, check Encrypt iPad backup in iTunes.

How to Restore iPad Using iTunes

Restoring iPad using iTunes on a computer is one of the easiest ways. Follow these steps:

  1. Connect iPad to computer using the USB cable.
  2. Open latest version of iTunes on computer if it doesn’t automatically launch.
  3. Select your iPad by clicking on the Device icon in the top left corner.
  4. Go to the Summary tab and click Restore iPad.
  5. A pop up will warn you that restoring will erase data – click Restore again to confirm.
  6. iTunes will download software for the iPad and restore it.

Once finished, you can then set up and use your iPad like new or restore from a backup.

How to Restore iPad Using Finder

For Mac users on macOS Catalina or later, iTunes is no longer used to manage iPad. Instead, use Finder:

  1. Connect iPad to Mac using USB cable.
  2. Open Finder app on Mac.
  3. Select iPad under Locations in left sidebar.
  4. Click General tab.
  5. Click Restore iPad to start restore process.
  6. Confirm restore on pop up warning.

Finder will erase and restore iPad to factory settings. You can then set up iPad as new or restore from backup.

How to Restore iPad Using iCloud

You can also erase and restore your iPad wirelessly using iCloud. This requires having an iCloud backup in order to restore data after. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud on iPad.
  2. Tap Erase iPad at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap Restore on pop up warning.
  4. Sign in with Apple ID and enter password to confirm.
  5. iPad will reset itself and restore from iCloud backup.

This makes restoring iPad easy without cables or computers needed. Just connect to WiFi to download backup.

How to Restore iPad Using Recovery Mode

For major software issues, you may need to force restore iPad using Recovery Mode:

  1. Connect iPad to computer via USB cable.
  2. Force restart: Hold Top button + Volume Down on iPad for 10+ seconds until you see Recovery Mode screen.
  3. Open iTunes or Finder on computer.
  4. iTunes/Finder will recognize iPad in Recovery Mode and prompt to Restore.
  5. Click Restore to download software and reset iPad.

Recovery Mode is a last resort but can fix many issues. iPad will restart normally after restoring completes.

Important Things to Know Before Restoring iPad

Keep these important things in mind before initiating a restore on your iPad:

  • Backup first – Make sure you backup iPad to avoid permanent data loss.
  • Update iTunes/Finder – Latest versions required to recognize newer iPad models.
  • Have WiFi access – Restores require downloading latest iOS software.
  • Stay connected – Don’t disconnect iPad during restore process.
  • Encrypted backups – Only encrypted iTunes backups save all Health data.
  • Passcodes – You’ll need to enter iPad passcode/Apple ID if enabled.
  • Check storage – Restore iPad when you have enough storage for backup.

What Data Gets Deleted When Restoring iPad?

Restoring an iPad erases all settings and data. Here are some of the things that will be deleted:

  • Apps and games
  • Music, photos, videos
  • Contacts, calendars
  • Messages, call history
  • WiFi networks, passwords
  • Home screen layout
  • Settings and preferences
  • Health and activity data
  • Apple Pay cards

Essentially most data added after purchasing iPad will be erased. Any data stored in iCloud or iTunes backups can be restored later.

Typical Restore Times for iPad

Restore times can vary depending on iPad model, amount of data and backup method. Here are some typical restore durations:

Restore Method iPad Model Typical Duration
iTunes iPad Air 15-30 minutes
iCloud 10.2″ iPad Pro 1-2 hours
Recovery Mode 12.9″ iPad Pro 30-60 minutes
Finder iPad Mini 10-20 minutes

Factors like internet speed also impact iCloud and wireless restores. Finder and iTunes restores depend on computer processing power and USB transfer speed.

What to Do If iPad Won’t Restore

In some cases, you may get errors trying to restore iPad. Here is some troubleshooting tips if restore isn’t working:

  • Update computer OS and iTunes/Finder software.
  • Check internet connection and try again.
  • Force restart iPad and retry restore.
  • Try a different USB cable if using iTunes/Finder.
  • Reset network settings on iPad under General settings.
  • Clear up storage space on iPad if full.
  • Enter your Apple ID password if prompted.
  • Contact Apple support for further troubleshooting.

After Restoring iPad – Now What?

Once your iPad has been successfully restored, there are a few steps before you’re up and running again:

  1. Update to latest iOS software if prompted.
  2. Enter activation lock passcode and Apple ID if enabled.
  3. Go through initial iPad setup process from scratch or restore from backup.
  4. Log in to iCloud to sync data from previous backup.
  5. Sign in to iTunes & App Store using Apple ID.
  6. Reinstall apps and media content from App Store purchases.
  7. Adjust settings and preferences back to your liking.

And that’s it! Your iPad should now be restored to factory settings or your latest backup. Enjoy using a refreshed and trouble-free device again.


Restoring an iPad can fix many issues and give you a like-new device again. Just remember to always backup first and have the latest iTunes/Finder version. Restoring completely wipes the iPad, but you can reload a backup after to restore your apps, data and settings.

For quick fixes, try force restarting iPad before resorting to a full restore. But if you have persistent software problems or want to sell your iPad, restoring is the best way to wipe it clean.