fixed : “Your iPad could not be activated”/”Activation server temporarily unavailable”-error

Question :

After my iPad tried to update to iOS 9.3.x (this also goes for iOS 11.2.x) last night, I had to re-enter my AppleID and now I’m getting a blank page with only this error message :

“Your iPad could not be activated because the activation server is temporarily unavailable. Try connecting your iPadto iTunes to activated it or try again in couple of minutes.”

But even if I wait a couple of minutes or even an hour, and try again, I get stuck with this same message…

How can I fix this ?


Answer :

Apple Support has a tutorial on how to fix this, but a lot of times that doesn’t work :

If you can’t activate your iPad 2 (GSM model) after you update to iOS 9.3

If you can’t figure out how to do that, or you’ve tried and it doesn’t work for you, try this :

  • if you have an iPad with a GSM SIM-card installed, make sure you have the SIM’s 4-digit PIN-code at hand, then pop the SIM-card out using a bended paperclip or the official tool that’s comes with every iPhone and every SIM-card enabled iPad
  • then, on your Mac, go to Apple-icon (top-left in the menu bar) –> system Preferences –> iCloud
  • in the window that opens, see what eMail-address is listed under your name ; make sure to remember that eMail-address : this is your iCloud-account name (which might be different from your AppleID or iTunes Store-account name)
  • then click on “Account Details” and type the password that is connected to your iCloud-account name
  • if a new window opens, remember this password and close the window
  • if you get an error message that your password is incorrect, make sure you find the password and try again (you can try several times, but if you get a warning that you have only a limited amount of attempts remaining, stop immediately !! and skip this step)
  • now return to your iPad and do a reset by pressing the Home-button (physical button below the screen) and the Power-button (physical button on the right edge or top edge) simultaneously until the screen goes black and the white Apple logo appears
  • now, proceed though the following screens as you normally would until you are asked to enter your Account Name : there you should enter the eMail-address that is your iCloud-account name and the corresponding password
  • if this works, don’t forget to put the Sim-card back into your iPad and you’re done
  • if you happen to run into the Activation Server error page again before you get to the page where you should enter your Account Name, do this :
    • open the AppStore-app on your Mac
    • make sure you have installed all official Apple updates (especially iTunes)
    • connect your iPad directly (so without USB-hubs) to your Mac using the iPad-to-USB-cable
    • on your Mac, open iTunes
    • then do the reset on you iPad agian, simultaneously pressing the Home- and Power-buttons until the Apple logo appears
    • now iTunes (on your Mac) should detect your iPad
    • if it doesn’t, try the reset again
    • if it does, see if you can go trough all setup screen on your iPad
    • if you are unable to do so, go to iTunes on your Mac
    • if a message appears you need to unlock your iPad, type the screen unlock code on your iPad
    • if a “Trust this iPad ?” message appears on your Mac, click “Trust”
    • if a “Trust this Mac ?” message appears on your iPad, click “Trust”
    • now you see a small button with an iPad on it next to the Music/Films/etc.-pulldown menu ; click on it
    • in the next window, you should now be able to initiate the iOS-update of your iPad from your computer
    • then wait for the update to complete
  • afterwards, do not forget to put the SIM-card back into your iPad

Good luck & enjoy 😉


9 thoughts on “fixed : “Your iPad could not be activated”/”Activation server temporarily unavailable”-error

  1. Fix my ipad2 (GSM+Wifi) – error activation problem. (You can try my method to see if it works for you)

    As usual You can follow the following steps.

    Note:Even after following the above I still get the “activation error message”.

    My solution:
    1. What I did was remove my SIM card and redo the above steps.
    2. Once done please activate IPAD from your iTunes (dont do it in your IPAD)
    3. At your iTunes scrren if you still get the error “We’re sorry, we are unable to continue with your activation at this time…”
    4. Do below step repeatedly:
    >Press the back button
    >Then press the small device logo again. (This will re-send your activation to Apple)

    Note: I did step 4 a few times and successfully activated.

      • I have an ipad air 2…..that doesn’t have a SIM card in it….but it is giving me the same problem as if I have one in my ipad and I don’t have a SIM card with this……never have…..worked just fine until I did the latest update for the IOS……and Apple cannot help me

      • @Shirley :
        Thanks for your feedback.
        Sorry to hear you couldn’t get this problem solved yet.
        Since you don’t have a SIM installed, I would suggest to just follow the directions in the main post and skip all steps that require a SIM.
        It’s probably as easy as that 😉
        Hope this helps – good luck !

  2. I dont have a Mac and I dont have iTunes. Does that mean I can bin my iPad2?
    I wish I could go back to IOS6. Since IOS7 the iPad2 is only a toy for the kids and even they hate the slow system.
    What a Apple…

    • @Zonk :

      Thanks for the feedback.
      sorry to hear this doesn’t work for you since you don’t have a Mac

      there are 2 good options I can suggest :
      1- install iTunes for Windows on your PC and try the method outlined in the original post using iTunes for Windows instead of iTunes for Mac (I don’t have a PC, so I don’t know if that would work, but there’s a good chance it might…)
      2- take your iPad to an AppleStore and ask them to do this for you… you might also ask a Apple-dealer or Apple Repair Centre, but the biggest chance you will get this service for free would be at an AppleStore I presume…

      Good Luck !

  3. I’ve got it activated but it gets bricked again after sitting. I’ve activated it 3 times in 3 days :(.

    • @Nick :

      Thanks for the feedback.
      Sorry to hear this doesn’t work for you yet.
      (and sorry for my late reply)

      Did you also try the additional solution given by abc in the first comment to this post ?
      He/she suggests not to use the iPad itself to activate, but use your Mac (there’s no reason to assume this wouldn’t work on a PC) to activate your iPad from within iTunes.
      And then repeatedly re-send the activation to Apple by pressing the tiny device logo (tiny iPad icon) in iTunes, followed by pressing the BACK-button to disconnect (and enable to redo) and keep repeating until successful.

      Hope this helps.
      Good Luck !
      enjoy 😉

    • @Nick :

      Thanks for the feedback.
      Sorry to hear this doesn’t work for you yet.
      (and sorry for my late reply)

      Did you also try the suggestion by abc in the first comment to this post ?
      He/she suggests to :
      1- make sure you do not activate from your iPad itself, but from within iTunes on your Mac (or PC)
      2- retry multiple times until successful by repeatedly doing this :
      – click on the tiny iPad icon in iTunes to activate
      – click on BACK in iTunes to release for your next activation attempt

      Hope this helps.
      Good Luck !
      enjoy 😉

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