For initial deployment of more than a few iPod touch devices, using the "restore from backup" technique in iTunes is currently the most efficient way to deploy. First off, much of the backup and restore information referenced here is explained in very good detail at Apple's support site in these two articles:
Phone and iPod touch: About backups:
Backing up, updating, and restoring your iPhone and iPod touch software:
We suggest that if you want fine-grain detail about the backup and restore processes in iTunes, that you check out those two articles first. If you are simply looking for a bird's-eye view of the backup and restore process, and then a detailed view of how to use those processes to deploy iPod touch or iPhone devices in the classroom, please continue reading.
Our cloning workflow is as follows:
1. Make a "master iPod touch device" with everything as you would like the others to have and to look like
2. Make a backup of that iPod touch device in iTunes
3. Use iTunes to clone that backup image from the master iPod on to the other iPod touch devices using the "restore" functionality.
The "imaging" process of iPod touch and iPhone devices is similar to imaging MacBooks or other computer hardware in that you are going to create a "master" iPod with the settings as you like them, the networks chosen, the playlists selected (in Music/TV Shows/Podcasts/iTunes U/Photos) the applications you have selected to sync (we suggest "automatically" syncing all applications for most deployments), and the screens with the apps in the places you'd like on the device as well. At the time of this writing, there is no way to "lock" the applications onto the screens where you initially deploy them... students or staff will be able to move them as they wish. You can, however, restore the iPod at a later date to bring it back to the way you want if you choose to do so.
Remember that iTunes only keeps a few backup files of each device, so you should create a new one of the master device when you are ready to start the copying process. More info is located here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1766
. With the device connected and listed in your iTunes "devices" area, right-click or control-click on the device and choose "Back Up" from the list. When the process finishes, your iTunes library will now have a current backup of the device you wish to use as your master. iTunes will keep track of all the different devices that you sync and keep their backups organized. You can see them by going to iTunes > Preferences > Devices:
In this window, you can see the multiple devices that have been registered in my iTunes library and the list of their backup files. The older backups are also time/date stamped so you can go back in time to an older one if you need to.
If you are preparing a major deployment
, you may want to delete the old backups from your sync machine to make it clearer which one to use in the cloning process.
Now you have a backup of the device you want to "clone" or "image" on to the other iPod touch devices in your cart (or on your desk). Plug in the iPod touch device that you want to put the copy of your master iPod on, when it appears in iTunes, right-click (control-click) on the device in iTunes, and choose "Restore from Backup" button.
There is no need to create a settings backup from this device, so choose "Don't Back Up" if iTunes prompts you in the next dialog. After the iPod touch device has been restored to the new "master" settings.
When this part of the restore finishes, your settings will have been copied over, but not your media.
The next steps are to rename this iPod with your naming scheme, and then "sync" to copy over the
media and the apps that the settings restore process set up this device.
When your sync is complete, you will have successfully cloned your master iPod touch device's settings, including which apps and media to sync, on to your "new" iPod. You can continue this process on as many iPod touch devices as you like, continuing to use the original backup from the master.
Some people have asked us whether this is a good way to manage the iPods on a regular basis. Although it may seem so at the beginning, you will notice that this process takes over your iTunes during the restore process, and takes quite a bit of time (although much less time than setting them up each individually, for sure). It is, however, a good way to fix a "misbehaving" iPod touch, or to redeploy a set of iPod touch devices into a completely different classroom or school scenario.
One of the next articles we post will highlight some suggested ways to set up how media and applications are selected for syncing on a master iPod device, so that you can keep them imaged they way you set them up, but manipulate the media within iTunes using smart playlists
or even better, using nested playlists