Monday, June 17, 2013

You CAN back up a Supervised iPad and Recover the Data to an Unsupervised Device...

If you have a Supervised iPad and for whatever reason need to get the data transferred to an Unsupervised device, you can accomplish this by following these steps:

I tested this with a single iPad so after I created the backup, I unplugged the device and reset it to factory settings. If you are testing this using a second iPad, you can skip this step.

  1. Connect a supervised iPad to your Mac and open Configurator (this must be the same machine that Supervised the device initially).
  2. Click on the Supervision tab and click on your USB connected iPad.
  3. Choose Devices from the menu list and select Backup.
  4. Name your backup file and click Create Backup.
  5. Once the backup finishes, click the drop down menu next to Restore in the right side window.
  6. Choose Edit Stored Backups
  7. Scroll through the list and find the backup that you just created.
  8. Click on your backup and then press the Option key. This will add a sharing icon to the - icon on the bottom left of the window.
  9. Click on the sharing icon and choose a location for your backup and click Export.
  10. Once the export finishes, click Done.
  11. Click the Devices menu option and choose Unsupervise. It will warn you that the device will be wiped.
  12. Once this process finishes, you should see your iPad in the Prepare window.
  13. Slide the Supervision switch to OFF.
  14. Choose No Change in the IOS box.
  15. Click the Restore drop down and choose Other. If Other is not an option here, make sure that the Supervision switch is set to OFF).
  16. Navigate to your saved backup file and click the Open button. 
  17. Click Prepare.
  18. Once the backup process finishes up, the iPad should now be Unsupervised, but your data from the backup is present. It's important to note that if you look in the General setting on the device, you will see the Supervision profile installed; however, it is not active in any way and you should be able to use your device freely with no restrictions.
  19. Once you re-download your apps, all data should be recovered.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Singing the Configurator Blues.....

I have read countless blog posts online about using Apple's Configurator for an iPad deployment and while it may be somewhat buggy at times, it does a reasonably good job. We decided to Supervise the devices in our iPad Pilot this year in order to disable iMessage and a few other things that you can only disable if the device is Supervised. We further wanted to keep the device as a tool for school and not be sync'd at home with the user's library and games. 

In our situation; however, since this was a Pilot Program, we told the students that as a token of our appreciation, they could keep the devices for participating. Little did we know that this would come back to haunt us during the last week of school.

At the end of this school year, we had several students that were moving out of state and therefore would not be returning in the fall. This information began a process that was an exercise in extreme frustration for everyone involved. We asked the students to bring us their devices on the last day of school. We-- unfortunately, as it turns out--figured we could simply connect them to the Configurator computer, remove the Supervision profile and send them on their way. Nope. We were unable to remove it without completely wiping the device. All of the student's data and bookmarks would be gone forever. This being a Pilot, we were learning a hard lesson. 

The students had all backed up their devices to iCloud, but just as a Plan B and C, I used both Configurator and iTunes (on the Configurator computer) to make additional backups of their data. I restored the backup from each one onto a separate "test device" to see what the results would be: not good. All of the backups had the Supervision profile embedded into them.

Our only option at that point was to wip the device and offer a huge apology to these students. Since we were on a very small time frame, we were unable to investigate other options. I have read that there are data transfer utilities available and will have to look into them but since we are expanding our program to grades 5 and 7 as well, I am seeing a HUGE problem in a couple of years that I'd like to avoid completely: The devices we are purchasing are going to be leased from Apple and managed using Meraki. At the end of the lease period--two years-- we are going to offer the families the option to purchase the device at fair market value. If we Supervise them, we will have this problem with every student with an iPad when the time comes.

I am wondering how schools that either issue iPads to students and allow them to keep them, or have a lease with an option to buy program are handling this situation. I am wondering if a better option is to not Supervise them but impose restrictions on the devices by setting up a master device with restrictions imposed directly on that device (only the staff would have the code) and clone that master to the rest of the devices via iTunes. At that point, I believe we can eliminate use of the Configurator entirely and use Meraki to deploy apps over the air. When students leave or purchase their device, we can remove the code and that's that.

Decisions, decisions....