How to Fix an IPad that Does Not Connect to a PC

By Andrew Tennyson

Although the iPad is a handy device on its own, you can greatly expand its capabilities by connecting it to your PC. Usually all it takes to connect the two devices is to plug the iPad into the PC and launch iTunes. If you have an iPad running iOS 8 that won’t connect to a PC running Windows 8, follow a series of troubleshooting procedures to diagnose and fix the problem.

Initial Troubleshooting

Before moving on to more advanced solutions, perform some initial troubleshooting on both the iPad and your computer. Restart your computer and then restart the iPad. To restart the iPad, hold down the “Sleep/Wake” button and then slide the virtual slider across the iPad’s screen to confirm you want to restart the device. Once the iPad restarts, verify that the USB cable is firmly connected to both the iPad and a USB port on your computer. You know the iPad and PC recognize one another when a small lightning bolt appears over the battery icon on the iPad. If this does not happen, try using another USB port on your PC. If the iPad's battery is very low, charge it fully and try again to connect it to the computer.

Update and Reinstall ITunes

Open iTunes, click “Help” on the main menu and select “Check for Updates” to update iTunes to the most recent version. Try connecting the iPad again. If your PC still doesn’t recognize it, reinstall iTunes. Press “Ctrl-E” to open File Explorer on the computer, click “Settings” and then select “Control Panel.” Click “Uninstall a program,” select “iTunes” or “iTunes 11” on the list of applications and click “Uninstall.” Click “Yes” to confirm you want to uninstall iTunes. After the uninstallation process completes, uninstall any other related applications on the programs list, including Bonjour, Apple Software Update, Apple Application Support and Apple Mobile Device Support. When all these programs are removed, restart your computer, visit the iTunes website and download and reinstall iTunes (link in Resources).

Verify Apple Mobile Device USB Drivers

If the iPad and PC still won’t connect after reinstalling iTunes, verify that the Apple Mobile Device USB drivers are correctly installed on the PC. These drivers are necessary for the iPad and PC to communicate with one another. Move your mouse pointer to the top-right corner of your screen and click the “Search” charm. Enter “devmgmt.msc” in the search field and press “Enter” to launch Device Manager. Click the arrow or "+" icon next to "Universal Serial Bus Controllers" to expand the section and then right-click “Apple Mobile Device USB Driver." If “Enable” displays on the pop-up menu, click it to enable the driver. If it’s already enabled, select “Update Driver Software” to update the drivers. If the Apple Mobile Device USB Driver has an exclamation mark next to it, right-click it and select “Uninstall.” Click the “Delete the driver software for this device” check box and click “OK.” After the driver is uninstalled, right-click the “Universal Serial Bus Controllers” header and select “Scan for hardware changes” to force your PC to download and install a new version of the driver. Try again to connect the iPad to the PC.

Restoring Your Firmware Using the IPad

If the problem is still not resolved, consider restoring your iPad firmware to its factory settings. This procedure deletes all apps and user data from the iPad and should be used as a last resort. Back up any files you want to save before proceeding. To restore your iPad to its factory settings, tap the “Settings” app on the iPad’s home screen, select “General” and then touch “Reset.” Tap “Erase all content and settings” and then confirm you want to reset the device. When the reset completes, you are prompted to set up the iPad again. Touch “Set up your device,” tap “Restore from a Backup” and follow the prompts to restore your backup. Try to connect to iTunes once again.