How to troubleshoot and fix common issues with your iPhone and iPad

Sick iPad

Apple makes it easy to keep iOS devices and all of the apps installed on these devices up to date. Because of this, if you’re having performance problems it’s usually not because you’re running an old version of the software that’s causing the trouble, as is often the case with other operating systems and devices. So assuming your apps are all up to date, the following remedies can help get your device back up and running at peak performance.

ios version up to date

Completely unresponsive device

There are quite a few situations that can make an iOS device completely unresponsive. Poorly written apps, web sites that try too hard, running the device when it is too hot outside, or simply letting the battery completely drain. Sometimes this can happen right in the middle of an activity while you are using the device, other times it can happen when the device is responding to a notification while it is in standby mode. In either case, the screen is typically frozen and the device does not respond to touch or by hitting any of the buttons in a normal fashion. The quick resolution if you find yourself in this situation is to press and hold both the sleep/wake button (located at the top of the device) and the home button. After about ten seconds you should see the screen go blank and shortly after that the Apple logo will appear, indicating that the device is powering back on.

Provided the unresponsiveness is not due to the device getting wet, when the screen is completely blank and apparently off you will want to attach the device to a charger for as long as thirty minutes. Only after the device has had some time to charge will you want to press and hold both the sleep/wake button and the home button for ten seconds (more or less). If you can, don’t use a computer’s USB port as part of this remedy; use the supplied power adapter that came with the device plugged into a standard outlet. That is the only way you know for certain that the device is getting the correct amount of power in order to charge the battery properly. You may even want to try using the cable and power adapter on a separate device just to be sure that both the cable and the charger are working properly.

resolve network issues

Keep losing connection to the internet

Sometimes knowing that your device is losing connectivity is not as obvious as you may think. The device may connect just fine when you are actively using it to browse the internet, but loses its connection when you are not. This can prevent your device from getting email updates, delivering messages and even responding to notifications.  Other times the device will not be able to connect to a nearby Wi-Fi access point you know you should be able to connect to or you may even be ‘downgraded’ to a 4G or EDGE connection when you could be using LTE. When you do notice that your device is losing access to your preferred way of connecting to the internet, there are a few quick solutions you can try to re-establish a connection.

The first and easiest remedy is to toggle on and back off from Airplane mode. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display the Control Center in iOS 7 and tap on the Airplane icon in the top left corner to turn on Airplane mode. Airplane mode will turn off all of the radios including the Wi-Fi and cellular connections and completely disconnect the device from any network. Wait a few seconds to ensure that all of the radios are powered off before tapping the Airplane icon a second time to turn off Airplane mode. This will force the device to reconnect to the network. You may even find that this technique will connect your device to a faster LTE network when it was previously stuck on a 3G or EDGE network.

If you find that this quick-fix technique is not working, or that you have to employ this technique all of the time, then the next solution to try is to reset the network settings of the device. You may want to try to forget the problematic Wi-Fi setting or reset the cellular APN individually, but I typically go straight to resetting all network settings as a fix.  From within Settings > General > Reset you will see “Reset Network Settings.” The one downside is that it will force the device to forget all of the known Wi-Fi connections you have joined in the past. This means that you will need to re-enter all of your network configurations and Wi-Fi passwords. Once selected this will power also off and back on the device.

erase ipad

Slow or poor performance

Coincidentally many of the same techniques that help increase the battery life on iOS 7 can also boost its performance. One such technique however does have a more immediate effect on performance, and that is to shut down all running apps on the device. By double clicking on the Home button you will see all of the running apps on the device. Swiping up on the app’s preview will force the app to close. Even apps that are running in a suspended mode occupy memory and are able to respond to notifications.

After closing all of your apps, powering the device off and back on again can help with any related performance issues that involve network connectivity as well. On more than one occasion quitting all running apps and power cycling an older iPad 2 running iOS 7 has made playing multiplayer games more responsive. It is certainly a quick fix that can resolve more than just performance related issues. And it sure beats going through all of my settings trying to optimize the device for performance.

When all else fails

Before you contact AppleCare or schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar, there are two resolutions you can try as a last resort. These two solutions just so happen to be the first two questions that either AppleCare or the Genius Bar will ask if you have already tried. And that is to “Erase all content and settings” on the device. This one action becomes two different solutions depending on how you elect to restore your device after you wipe it clean.

Provided your device is somewhat functional before going down this path, it is a good idea to back up your device to both iCloud as well as iTunes. The reason backing up to iTunes on your Mac or PC is also a good idea is that you will have a local copy of your backed up data that you can access using tools like Ecamm’s PhoneView or DigiDNA’s DiskAid. There is currently no way to access your backups that are stored in iCloud.

When you restore your device, you can either restore from a backup or you can set your device up as a new iPhone or a new iPad. If you do elect to restore from a backup, you may in fact restore the app or the device setting that was the cause of all of your problems in the first place. If you do continually have the same issue even after restoring and setting your device up as a new device, then the issue you are experiencing is likely not related to either iOS or any app running on iOS, and AppleCare may your only option remaining.

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