March 2011
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Process for imaging multiple iPads

This post is long overdue, but I wanted to document the process that we used to image our cart of 20 iPads.  Before starting the process we made certain that we had purchased all of the apps through the Volume License Program which is detailed in a previous post.   After several hours of troubleshooting, we finally settled on the process below.  We decided to use two separate computers to expedite the process.  One computer was dedicated to restoring the iPad to factory settings and for system updates (the iPads were previously at 3.2.2 and we were upgrading to 4.2.1 iOS).  The second computer was used to restore the image to the devices.  I have provided details below about the process that worked well for us.  Each device required 15 minutes for the process.

Create an image:

I created an image for the iPad cart by setting up one of the iPads as a template.  I updated the device to the most recent iOS so that we could take advantage of some of the new features.  I then installed the apps and any additional settings (such as email settings, background image, lock-screen image, web clips, etc) on the device.  After finishing with the setup for the device, I connected it to iTunes and synced.  As an extra measure, I also created a backup of the device (CTRL-click over the device name in the left sidebar).  This is the “image” that I used for all of the devices.

Restore and Update:

  1. Connect an iPad to the first computer and you should receive a notice about the availability of new software.  Ignore this pop-up and click LATER.  Updating at this point added some strange behavior, so it’s best to wait to do this.1-later-dont_update
  2. Although the Free Find service is advertised as being “free”, you need a MobileMe account to use it.  In addition, I’m not certain how this works with a set of iPads so this needs further investigation.  Click NOT NOW to bypass the Free Find setup.2-free_find_click_not_now1
  3. At this point you should see the basic summary screen for the iPad.  Click RESTORE to reset the iPad to its original settings.3-click_restore1
  4. A pop-up box will appear asking you if you want to back up the device. We will not use this image in the future-click DON”T BACK UP.4-click_dont_back-up
  5. Another pop-up box will appear asking if you are certain you want to do this.  Click RESTORE AND UPDATE.5-restore_update
  6. Another pop-up box will appear.  This warning indicates that there are some purchased items that have not been transferred to the iTunes library.  This message appears because we have used multiple accounts to download apps on the iPad through the App Store (not through iTunes) and the secondary accounts is not logged into iTunes at the time of syncing.  I’m not worried about this since we can always go back to the App Store and add the apps we have already purchased.  Click CONTINUE to begin the restore process.6-continue
  7. The device will reset to original settings.  It will disconnect from iTunes and reboot.  I’ve found this part of the process takes about 5 minutes for each device.  When the device finishes rebooting, it will reconnect to iTunes and will ask you to set up the device.  Do not continue with restore or setup of this device.  DISCONNECT the device from the first computer.7-disconnect

Restore from backup:

  1. Connect the restored device to the second computer and open iTunes.  The device should appear in the left side bar.  Select the second option to RESTORE FROM THE BACKUP OF.   You want to restore the template image to this device so be sure to select the name of the device on which you created the original image from the drop-down menu.  Click CONTINUE.  8-restore_from_20-click_continue1
  2. The back up that you selected will be restored to the device.  A pop-up window will appear to warn you to leave the device connected until it is recognized in iTunes after it restarts.  This part of the process took 10 minutes for each device.  I think this time will vary based on the number and size of apps you have installed on the image.9-restore_complete-let_ipad_reconnect
  3. Once the device restarts, it will appear in the left sidebar.  You will also be asked whether or not you want to register the device.  I selected REGISTER LATER from the options.10-register_later
  4. You should now see the summary page for the device.  At this point you will want to change the name of the device.  With the name of the device highlighted, click the name once more to rename it.  After you’ve renamed it be sure to sync the device.11-rename-sync
  5. It’s probably overkill, but after renaming and syncing, I also created a back up.  CTRL-CLICK over the name of the device and you’ll be presented with a menu.  From this menu select BACK UP.  This will create a back up of the device with the new name.12-backup
  6. Then you’re done!  Well, not quite.  We also found that some of the settings don’t always transfer over so we checked each device to insure that the mail and drop box settings were correct.  We also changed the email signature for each device so that it was easier to identify which iPad an email came from since we use a single account for all devices.  Finally, since these devices are used in class by different groups of students, we made certain that the devices were signed out of the iTunes Store.

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