My Friday night took an unexpected turn when my iPad suffered sudden, irreversible hardware damage with an unknown cause. Two factory resets couldn't save it, and my iPad was pronounced dead on December 1st at 6:34 PM after over two years of service. While I was highly stressed over this experience, I had peace of mind knowing I had an extensive backup of my files and they weren’t gone forever. I just needed to procure a new iPad. Here’s how I back up my iPad to several sources.
Back up to iTunes
Every week, I back my iPad up to my computer with iTunes. This preserves the home screen layout, apps, settings, and most other features. App login data is not preserved, and neither is the operating system- meaning if you have a backup from iOS 10, you can put it on a device running iOS 11.
Write out accessibility settings
I keep a written record of all of my accessibility settings so that if I had to do them all over again, I wouldn’t have to try and remember the exact white point temperature or where a certain setting was. Read my post on my iPad accessibility settings here.
Use a secondary cloud storage solution
I back up all of my photos using Microsoft OneDrive automatic backup feature. When connected to wifi, my pictures are backed up to the cloud where I can access and/or download them at any time. This ensures that I always have access to images and the risk of losing all of my photos suddenly is extremely low.
Store passwords and login data
Unless stored in a keychain or similar app, passwords and login data is not backed up with the iPad. Make sure to have important login data in another location. Learn more about creating secure passwords here.
A note on iCloud
My old iPad had difficulty backing up to iCloud for some reason, so I chose to just do computer backups without iCloud. It also costs extra money every month to store this data. Keep this in mind when choosing a backup method. I found OneDrive was great for my photo needs.
How my backup worked
I picked up a new iPad around 8 PM the night my iPad broke and it was up and working before I went to bed. I had done a backup of my old iPad the night before, so I just plugged my new iPad into my computer and had it restore the settings for my old iPad. The entire process took about thirty minutes, and after that I spent time fine tuning the new settings in iOS 11, downloading apps, and logging in to apps. Overall, this process probably took 1.5-2 hours.
I am very grateful that I was able to replace my iPad so quickly (thank you to my friend A for driving me to the Apple store on such short notice!) and that I didn’t have to worry about a whole lot once I had the iPad in my hand. It’s an important lesson in why devices should be backed up- and often.