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iPad bricked by iOS 9.3? Don't worry, we'll get through this together

Reg readers share their fondleslab update struggles and tips

Updated Earlier this week, word broke of a bug in Apple's iOS 9.3 update that was leaving some iPad 2 tablets unable to function.

We asked Reg readers if they had experienced this problem, and the responses came pouring in, along with tips for workarounds that at least let you use your iPad until Apple can come up with a fix.

So, we've decided to share our collection of reader horror stories in the hopes that, should your iPad 2 be stricken by this malady, you can take some comfort in knowing that you're not alone.

Kicking things off is Reg reader Herbie Skeete, whose experience was pretty typical of what we've heard:

I tried Apple Support via 'Chat' several times. Each time there was a message saying that there was a 2 minute queue. Apple's minutes are likely equivalent to days as thus far no contact via Chat.

Alfred Ross even had the Genius Bar stumped.

I spent nearly 2 hours at Apple Store in New York and they don't know how to fix it. They say they have no directions from Apple but have a number of similar complaints. Impossible to activate it for now.

Reader Rick Pickless is so fed up he is ready to dump Apple entirely:

Whilst I don't have the newest, high tech bit of Apple tosh and have managed to make perfect use of my iPad2, until now at least it has been quite satisfactory for my needs. Including my work and personal requirements. No longer. I think I might add my iPhone to the iPad2 doorstop pile. Also I am smart enough to own Samsung mobile phone and a Blackberry. So two fingers to Apple I'll keep my money and my sanity and hope that one day Apple gets its just deserves and then might begin to actually care about their customers rather than their profits.

But there is hope! Some readers have been able to find a fix on their own...

basementboy64bit sent us a handy step-by-step:

I tried all the stuff suggested in various posts on various forums and spent a lengthy chat with Apple Support who claimed they were working on the problem really really hard. In the end, I had to restore from iTunes (12.3.3.17 64 bit) local backup which I always take prior to OS updates. 1) Hold sleep/wake and home buttons 'til connect to iTunes image appears (10 sec or so). 2) Connect to iTunes with USB. 3) iTunes recognizes device and offers 'update' or 'restore' – select 'restore' using latest backup. 4) wait about 1 hour (iPad 2 is not very speedy). 5) Complete 9.3 update from 'Hello' to successful activation.

It could have been a fluke and shaking chicken bones over the brick would have worked eventually, but I had heard of others who had a similar success. So I decided to try it rather than wait for Apple to issue a fix. Shades of Microsoft circa 2005...

A Warren was able to back out of the jam with the aid of OS X:

I have solved the activation issue by restoring my iPad 2 to iOS 9.2.1 using iTunes and then using my computer backup to replace all my apps and files.

If you have attempted upgrading to 9.3 the iOS 9.2.1 Restore.ipsw should be in your computer Trash. Drag it out to the Desktop.

Close and reopen iTunes and connect iPad to computer. Do a full re-boot of the iPad by holding on/off button and Home button down together. When black screen appears, keep holding Home button only until the Restore window appears on computer. HOLD DOWN ALT while clicking Restore and it will ask you for the ipsw file which you can select from the Desktop.

After having a fruitless exchange with Apple Support, Wallace Karraker channeled the spirit of Maurice Moss and tried turning it off and on again:

was one of the unlucky ones that had a bricked iPad 2 after an iOS 9.3 upgrade attempt. I even took it to the local Apple Genius bar and all they could say is 'Yup, it's bricked. Have you jailbroken it? The best we can offer you is a $100 discount on a new one.' Thanks but no thanks, the iPad was working fine before the upgrade attempt.

After trying countless times to restore using normal and DFU modes, I put the iPad on a shelf and forgot about it. After I read your article I decided to try it again and it was able to complete the upgrade! The only thing I can think of was the iPad had been stone cold dead for about a week before I performed a fresh download and restore. Maybe Apple pulled the previous upgrade and tweaked the file, but it was a sweet sight to see the progress bar start and complete.

Reader Steve Waller resorted to remote tracking to fix his slab:

I had the same problem for two days. Finally, I fixed it! Basically I used Find My Phone, erased the data on the iPad and restored it from a Backup. The iPad was stuck on this message: 'Could Not Activate iPad. Your iPad could not be activated because the activation server is temporarily unavailable. Try connecting your iPad to iTunes to activate it, or try again in a couple of minutes.' I also tried connecting to iTunes. But iTunes could not recognize the iPad and suggested that I go to an Apple Store!

And a few lucky souls have even been able to get their iPad 2 to install the 9.3 update, albeit with a few hiccups.

Stanton Sanderson advises having a bit of patience:

Updated my iPad 2 on Tuesday – took a long time but no problems then and none since

Reader Stephan Potter was also able to wait it out to get his slab running the latest and greatest after a couple of restarts and a bit of waiting:

Upgraded my iPad2 to OS 9.3 last night. Few glitches on the way such as the Apple Logo in the middle of the screen looking like the process had hung – waited 1 hour, still no change, went downstairs for dinner, came back upstairs, rebooted the device, upgrade started again and then about an hour later finished successfully. Did have further problems with the swipe to start set up as it did recognize my finger swipe and then went through all the set up languages. Rebooted again and that time swipe to start on English worked first time.

A similar story from Mitchell Joelson:

My iPad 2 32GB completed the upgrade process, but after asking me to enter my iCloud password, which I did and it appeared to accept, then looped back to again asking me to enter my iCloud password. After entering the password a second time, the upgrade successfully completed.

So there we have it. While frustrating, the iPad 2 iOS 9.3 update is not a death sentence for your trusty slab. Try the above tips and fixes, and hopefully you'll be able to wait things out until Apple gets around to releasing its fix. ®

Updated to add

Apple has finally published a couple of suggested fixes if you get stuck installing iOS 9.3. It's also suspended downloads of the new OS for older iThings until it's sorted out the problems at its end.

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