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I have an iPad Mini running iOS 9 that has music, photos, apps, etc on it, and I dropped it an shattered the screen. It still will connect to the computer. I have an appointment to get it "repaired" at the Genius Bar, but they really replace it with a fresh piece of hardware.

What do I need to do to completely back up my iPad so that the new hardware will be as seamlessly like the old one as possible? Ideally, I'd like to have the same playlists, photos, settings, stored passwords, high score in games, etc. I have a Mac to back up to (and restore from).

This is an iPad with cellular service, so I plan to transfer the SIM from my current device to the new one.

I've done a "full backup" in iTunes, but I want to be sure it really backs up everything. Does it? If not, what else do I need to do to make this as seamless as possible? Are there some things that I can't back up no matter what I do?

When I spoke with a Genius Bar employee today, he indicated that playlists that I created on my iPad would not be backed up by any of these procedures. Does anyone have any experience with how to make the music on my iPad transfer as exactly as possible to the new hardware?

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To be safe, run two backups.

  • First connect to iTunes and verify that "Encrypt Backup" (on the left) is checked. That will backup some private data that otherwise would be lost from the back up to your computer. Specifically, keychain and passwords, Health data on an iPhone.
  • Then try changing the password for the backups. This lets you know now that you can enter the password if/when prompted. If you can't change the password, delete the old backup and make a new encrypted backup to iTunes.
  • Lastly, put a clear piece of plastic over the screen and carefully go to Settings app and sign in to iCloud or go to iCloud and force a back up to iCloud. This is encrypted with the AppleID password and backs up passwords and health data as well as application data and settings.

There are things that do not back up like pairing records to trust specific computers, but those are by design and unlikely to be something you even want to back up if you could opt in to them.

Your SIM will transfer most likely (all Apple iPads are not carrier locked) and the store staff can assist you if you should need some carrier activation step. I would arrive early (at least 15 minutes) for the appt and expect to be there 45 minutes. That way if the store is slammed, you won't be surprised by a delay. Most stores have a caching server and fast internet, so you might stay longer to get an iCloud restore going if your internet is more tortoise than hare.

Lastly, I don't know if cellular data boost works during an iCloud restore, so I wouldn't put the SIM card in the iPad while iCloud restore was running if paying for that amount of data is unwelcome.

  • Forgive the heavy handed edits. I would also recommend trying to restore the backup to an iPod touch or another iPad/iPhone if you really need to be sure you have a viable back up. No one needs a backup, what we all need is a successful restore of the files from a back up interval. – bmike Sep 23 '15 at 16:55
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Just to expand on RedEagle's answer, before I even update iOS, let alone set up a new device, I would always, at the very last minute...

  • Download any waiting App updates in iTunes

  • Sync [including copying any potential extra data, if asked at sync time]

  • Backup [with Encryption, to retain passwords/health data etc

For some vague existential reason, I don't fully trust iCloud to have everything as neatly & fully backed up as iTunes.

  • 1
    +1 I try not to have my data in one place. If iCloud is my preferred backup method, I do a second one to iTunes. (and vice versa). Even better is to restore the backup to another device before handing in the broken device - but sometimes I don't do that for time or monetary reasons. – bmike Sep 23 '15 at 16:56
  • tbh, my 'unattended' backups are to iCloud too - every time the phone is plugged in & can see wifi, which is at least daily. I'm also belt & braces with Time Machine & Backblaze. Never lost more than a day's work in 25 years ;) Until Friday, I don't have a 'spare' that will take iOS 9 - but good advice for anyone who does. – Tetsujin Sep 23 '15 at 17:18

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