How to Restore an iPad to Factory Default Using iTunes

How to Restore an iPad to Factory Default Using iTunes. Daniel Nations

When you first open the box and pull out your iPad, you go through a series of steps and questions to set it up for first-time use. You can repeat this process later by restoring the iPad to "factory default", which means the status of the iPad when it left the factory. This process wipes all data and settings from the iPad before restoring it to factory default, which makes it a great troubleshooting step.

There are multiple ways to restore an iPad to factory default, including restoring it without even connecting it to iTunes.  You can also restore it from remote using Find My iPad, which is handy if you've managed to lock yourself out of your iPad.  We'll concentrate on restoring it the old-fashioned way by using iTunes.   

Before You Start: Back up your iPad using iCloud. You can do this in the iPad's Settings under iCloud and Backup. Get Help Backing Up Your iPad.

Restore an iPad to Factory Default Settings Using iTunes

  1. Connect the iPad to your PC or Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable that came with your iPad.
  2. Launch iTunes on your computer. (It may automatically open when you plug your iPad into your PC or Mac.)
  3. The iPad will show up under the devices tab on the left side of the screen. Click on your iPad. Make sure you are clicking on the name of the iPad with the battery icon to the right of it as shown in the image at the top of this article.
  1. Click on the "Restore" button highlighted in the image above.  
  2. iTunes will prompt you to back up your iPad. It's highly recommended to back up your iPad using iCloud before you start this process, but there is no harm in saving a backup to your PC as well, so go ahead and choose to do the backup.
  3. iTunes will confirm that you really want to restore it to the factory default settings. Choose "Restore and Update".
  1. The process will take a few minutes during which the iPad will reboot. Once it is finished, the iPad will appear the same as when you first received it. The data has been erased and it is no longer tied to your iTunes account. If you are performing the restore as a troubleshooting step, you can now set up the iPad for use.

What's Next After Restoring the iPad?

You'll have a few choices during the setup process.  The biggest is whether or not to restore the iPad using the backup performed to iCloud.  Why wouldn't you choose to use a backup?  Your contacts, calendar information and similar information are saved to iCloud. You can also download any previously purchased apps for free. 

If you have documents you have created and/or stored on the iPad, you definitely will want to restore from a backup.  But if you have mainly used the iPad for web browsing, email, Facebook and streaming from Netflix and you feel like your iPad has become cluttered, you could effectively start over with a clean iPad by not choosing to restore from a backup.