Repeated iPad Activation Requests

July 30, 2017 at 2:54 pm (computers) (, , , , )

I had a recent problem with an iPad.  It was asking to be activated, yet when you walk through the menus, it wouldn’t connect to the Apple servers and activate, it would only get kicked back into action when connected to a PC running iTunes.

Once activated, all was fine – Internet fine, browsing and apps, fine – apart from iTunes itself.  For some reason it was never able to get in touch with the App Store from the iPad itself.  After a while, it would then get stuck back in the ‘your iPad requires activation’ loop.  This could take a few hours or it might be after a day.

Typical error messages included: “activation error”, “ipad could not contact activation server”, “ipad could not connect to iTunes”.

The one that usually came up once trying to activate the device manually was “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”.

The Internet has various reasons for this – the server really is unavailable, your Internet connection isn’t working, and in some cases there was a report of activation problems after an iOS update.  There are various suggested solutions too – reboot, connect using a PC (which solves it in my case but only temporarily), remove the account from your iPad and add it back in, or even factory reset and restore from backup.  Nothing worked for me.

As I was contemplating a factory reset, I noticed that the clock on the iPad was out.  For some reason automatic updating of the clock from the Internet was turned off and the iPad was a hour out compared to the actual time.  Once the time synchronisation was turned back on and the clock updated, it all worked again.

I know that many cryptographic protocols can be time sensitive – if the clocks are out by too much between the two devices trying to communicate securely then the connection can not be established.  This is a problem I had with a Windows machine once – when the clock out of sync it wouldn’t ever update.  Looks like the same was probably happening here.

So if you are having odd activation errors on your i-device that keep reoccurring, check your clock settings and make sure it is telling the right time and in the right time zone.  This isn’t something I’ve seen mentioned anywhere in response to activation problems.

Kevin.

 

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