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How to reset or restore an iPad to default

Apple's iPad devices come with a built-in procedure for restoring them to their default factory settings. This process is useful when troubleshooting problems with the iPad, or when you're passing on the device to another user and want to be able to completely wipe your apps, settings and content. The restore function wipes all the data from your iPad, but iTunes automatically backs up all the data on the device before the process starts.

Launch iTunes on your PC or Mac. If you are prompted to download a newer version of the software, do this first before restoring your iPad.

Connect the iPad to your computer via the supplied USB cable. Wait for the device to be identified in iTunes. If the device is configured to run a backup or sync at this point, wait for the process to finish.

Switch to the device screen by clicking the "iPad" button on the toolbar. Click "Restore iPad..." on the Summary screen, and select "Back Up" if you haven't already backed up the device to iCloud or iTunes.

Click "Restore" on the final confirmation screen to wipe the iPad and reset it to its factory defaults, clicking through any further confirmation screens to complete the process.

Choose "Set up as new iPad" once the restore has been completed if you want to treat the iPad as a new device. Otherwise select "Restore from this backup" before clicking "Continue," which will restore your iPad to its previous state. When the process is complete you'll be returned to the iPad summary screen.

Tip

Apple uses the term "Restore" to refer to a full factory restore of the iPad (as described above), and the term "Reset" to refer to a less drastic resetting of the device (which works like a computer reboot). To reset your iPad, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button simultaneously for 10 seconds until the Apple logo appears on screen. This is useful if the iPad isn't responding, but you don't want to wipe everything on the device.

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About the Author

An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.