iPads in the Classroom - Creating Clones using iOS 5

There are cases where an organization (such as a school) may want to mass deploy out iPads that are identical - or clones - as they will not be used as an individual device.  Here was our method for accomplishing this using iOS 5. What is beautiful about doing this with iOS 5 is that the "tether-free" ability lets a person managing the iPads do this in whatever location they are in - they no longer have to collect the iPad in a central location OR carrying around a laptops with the backup on it.  Beautiful and a whole lot simpler!

(Please Note: 
  • Apple has now informed me that there is a hard 10 device limit on syncing with the cloud.  You will have to create multiple identical accounts if you want to use this method for more than 10, noting which devices sync with which account.
  •  This does not work for devices running iOS 4.  I will do a post for cloning in iOS 4.)
  1. Create the Master Copy
    1. Turn on a device and set it up exactly as you wish all devices to be (add apps, music, photos, ebooks, settings, profiles, podcasts, etc; set it up how you want it to look with folders and multiple screens)
    2. On the device, go to Settings -> iCloud -> Storage & Backup
    3. Select Back Up Now
    4. Note the Time & Date somewhere so you know which one to use.

  2. Cloning the Other Devices 
    1. Turn on the iPad
    2. If you have used the iPad previously, on the device go to Settings -> General -> Reset (towards the bottom) and select Erase All Content and Settings
    3. It will take a few minutes while it is resetting the device
    4. Turn on the iPad when it is finished resetting
    5. Go through the first several steps of setting it up (select the Language, select the Country or Region, either Enable or Disable Location Services, select a WiFi network)
    6. On the Set Up iPad screen, select Restore from iCloud Backup
    7. Enter in the Apple Account ID of the account used to make the backup
    8. Agree to the Terms & Conditions and decide if you want to send diagnostic information to Apple.
    9. Pick the appropriate backup from the iCloud list and select "Restore"
Depending on the number of apps on your backup, it can take several minutes to restore.  It will first restore the settings, then it will turn on and begin loading the apps on the device.  You must maintain a WiFi connection while it is loading the apps onto the device.


  1. Thank your for posting this valuable information. I'm setting up a 15 unit iPad lab and you saved me considerable time loading apps & photos.

    I still had to enter the iBooks store to download purchased books. Flipboard required me to log into the Flipboard account, but auto-configured its app with me pre-selected feeds.

    Hope you'll keep posting iPad lab tips and tricks as there are very few of us with groups of iPads to manage.

  2. Thank you for your feedback. I hope to post more soon as I've been working heavily with many local districts on iPad deployment in the last couple months.

    I've just started a "site" (actually a Moodle course" at http://onlinelearning.calhounisd.org/cisd/course/view.php?id=139 that is open to the public for iPad support. It's good for the beginner right now as there isn't much there. My teachers asked for it as the existing sites can be so overwhelming when you are new to the devices.


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