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Get up to date! If you aren't currently running the most current version if iOS, update now! If you are on a recent iOS release, you should have had the most recent update pushed to you wirelessly in the past few weeks. (Your iPad must be on AC current AND on a wireless network for the update to be applied.)
If you are unsure, tap Settings | General | Software Update. If you are behind the curve, follow the update prompts to iOS 5.1.
With this step accomplished, backup! Wireless backup was one of the under the hood improvements to iOS 5 which is so welcome. Still, most users backup at irregular intervals, and all users (hopefully) backup many more times to than restore! When it comes to data, I am a worrier and huge believer in the three backup principle of safe data preservation. The iPad's design makes this rule easy to follow if you are willing to take an extra step or two.
First backup to iCloud! If you aren't already backing up regularly, now is the time! Head over to General | iCloud | Storage and Backup. If iCloud Backup isn't "On" flip the switch! Complete the backup and Phase 1 is complete. Apple provides 5 Gigabytes of online space at no charge. If you have multiple iDevices, an iPad overflowing with irreplaceable data, or both, you may need to purchase incremental data from Apple to complete this step....
Now head over to General | iTunes Wi-Fi Synch ( this step assumes your iPad shares a wi-fi network with a Mac or PC running iTunes). Once again, be sure your iPad is on AC Current and has wi-fi enabled. At this point you can "force" a wireless sync creating a LOCAL backup. Step 2 complete. If you don't have a wireless network, you can easily sync and backup with iTunes by simply tethering your iPad to your computer using an Apple USB connecting cable.
With these steps completed, you have a three level backup-- 1.) Actual data on the iPad, 2.) Local data copied to your computer's hard drive via iTunes and 3.) An off site copy of your data "in the iCloud." Many will rely on either a local backup or iCloud backup, not both. This can be a serious mistake. I believe in data redundancy and you will too the first time you need to restore a file and discover it missing or corrupt from your only backup! I insist all Music Row Tech clients rely on data redundancy with tested local backups and off-site backups (this is non negotiable). So, do not pass go, do not turn on your new iPad, until you are 100% confident your data is safe! In fact, if you have certain types of data, iCloud backup and restore isn't a good option for the upgrade process (keep reading for specifics).
This next step is missed by many, but will make the upgrade a smoother process. Get a collection of user names and passwords. You should be using RoboForm, LogMein, or another password manager. If you aren't using such a program, this is the perfect time to begin. If you are, you are all set. Restores don't retain user account data (for obvious security reasons). You will have to authenticate with web sites, wi-fi networks, and more. Using a password manager which works across devices such as the two mentioned nearby makes this a reasonably painless experience and allows for much more secure password protection in the process.
Turn on that new iPad and sign in with the SAME Apple Account you used to do your online backup. Once logged into a local Wi-Fi network you should now be able to restore from either your local or iCloud based backup files. There are some items NOT backed up using the iCloud service. If you have movies, TV Shows, podcasts or audiobooks which were NOT purchased through iTunes, the iCloud backup and restore will not include these items. This is also true of photographs originally synchronized via your computer. If you have one or more of these types of data, you should backup and restore via direct cable using iTunes.
If your new iPad has cellular access via AT&T or Verizon, you will need to either transfer your current plan to the new device or sign up for one of several tiers of service. Head to Settings | Cellular Data to complete the needed steps to activate your 4G service.
After you have satisfied yourself that all of your Apps and data have made the journey from old iPad to new, you may want to prepare your old iPad for sale or lucky friend or family member. When you are ready to take this step open up Settings | General | Reset | Reset All Settings.
If you are looking to sell your old iPad with a minimum of hassle, Amazon's Trade In Program is currently offering the best pricing. There is one caveat, your old iPad will earn you an Amazon Gift Certificate not a cash check. The trade off is highly competitive valuation for your old iPad. (My iPad 2; AT&T; 64 Gigabyte was worth $406 in Acceptable Condition.) Your iPad's trade in value will be determined by several factors including condition, type and timing. If, like me, you frequent Amazon on a regular basis anyway, this program has no downside. If not, this may be a great excuse to try out this retailing giant. Amazon provides free shipping too so head there now using the nearby link and see what your current hardware is worth. (The company's trade-in program isn't limited to iPads, or even electronics, so take a look around your house and/or office. Paying for your new toy may be easier than you think!)
Even if you aren't planning on trading up to the new iPad in the next few weeks, doing some housecleaning and ensuring your data is regularly back up is worthwhile. Take a few minutes now to do some iPad spring housecleaning will pay dividends.
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