I'm going to resell my iPad 3 to buy a new one.

I need a simple way to backup everything from current iPad to be able to restore to the new one. This includes iBooks library with pdfs added from e-mails, Apps, App data, photos, etc.

I tried doing backup from iTunes, but it does not backup everything. On iPad 20 GB is in use, but back up archive is only 6 GB.

How is a user expected to backup an iPad?

  • Feel free to comment on my answer if you need clarification. Dec 17, 2012 at 23:15
  • Do you have any firm ideas about what is NOT being backed up? Is it possible that backups are compressed, and they actually are working?
    – dsteele
    Dec 17, 2012 at 23:59
  • In iTunes, try clicking on the iPad in the left column, holding down the Control Key and choosing "backup" in the popup menu (or right-click the iPad). Once that's done, you should be able to unmount the old iPad, plug the new one in, then go through the registration process and then when asked, restore the old data onto the new iPad. To be safe, don't erase the old iPad before you're sure everything is on the new one.
    – Richard
    Dec 18, 2012 at 2:37
  • @dsteele most of my data is app data, videos specifically and they can not be compressed.
    – skfd
    Dec 18, 2012 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


There are really only two ways to back up your iPad. Both of them are comphrehensive and should transfer everything onto a new iPad. Chances are, the space difference is comprised of music, and movies, and such that you can re-download from iTunes. iCloud will handle that part automatically, and iTunes probably won't. But, it's not hard to do.

Option 1: iCloud

iCloud is likely the easiest backup solution. Configure it in Settings > iCloud, and make sure the initial backup completes before wiping your device. This is a helpful article including information that is backed up. The only thing is there is a 5GB free storage limit. After that, you will need to purchase more storage (for a nominal fee).

Option 2: iTunes

The traditional way of backing up iOS data, this way still stands strong and true. iTunes should backup all your needed data. Check out this great article about iTunes backups. I didn't find a specific mention of iBooks PDFs (which should be stored in iTunes, correct?), but it did mention on the 3rd bullet:

Application settings, preferences, and data, including documents.

This likely includes iBooks PDFs.

So, in summary, iCloud is likely going to be your best, easiest, and most user friendly way to backup. If it were me, I would do both. I have restored a backup from iCloud and found it remarkably easy and simple.


While iCloud is the easiest backup solution, it looks like you're well past the free 5GB storage limit. Upgrading to 50GB is $11.88 per year.

I suggest using iTunes for the backup. Plug the iPad into your computer and bring up iTunes. iTunes does not normally encrypt device backups, but the only way to store all your passwords in the backup is via encryption.

  • If you haven't previously backed up your iPad with this computer, you'll want to create a new backup.

Before you click the backup button, be sure to click the Encrypt iPhone Backup checkbox!

  • If you have an existing backup of the iPad in iTunes, you will need to create a new backup, but be sure to check the encrypt backup checkbox.
  • Backup your iPad.

If at all possible, get your new device (and restore it from the latest backup then check to make sure you have a good restore on the) before you say goodbye to your current one.

  • Will go for iCloud upgrade if it's only $40 per year.
    – skfd
    Dec 18, 2012 at 21:20

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