How to Fix a Slow iPad

Woman using iPad
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Is your iPad running slow? Does it seem to get bogged down after a few hours? While this is more common with older iPads that don't have the processing power of the new iPad Air line and iPad Pro tablets, even the newest iPad can bog down. There are multiple reasons why an iPad may begin running slow, including an app running in the background or simply a slow Internet connection. Luckily, this is often easy to fix.

First: Purge Apps From Memory

The most common reason for an iPad to start chugging along is an issue with apps running in the background. When you close an app, the iPad doesn't shut it down completely. Most apps simply stay ready for you to launch them again, and some apps like the Music app continue to work in the background. Normally, this makes your iPad appear faster. These apps will load much quicker because they are already in memory. But sometimes, they can cause a problem.

To close the application, we need to bring up a list of all apps that are running in the background. You can do this by double clicking the home button at the bottom of your iPad. When you press it twice in quick succession, your most recent apps are shown as cascading windows across the screen. You can navigate through this screen by swiping from left-to-right or right-to-left. The active window will have its corresponding app icon above it.

To close an app, hold your finger down on the active window, and without lifting your finger from the screen, swipe toward the top of the display. This gesture resembles "flicking" the app off the iPad. Remember: you touch the app window, not the app icon.

Go ahead and close the first four or five apps and see if that helps.

If it doesn't, proceed to step two. Keep in mind, purging apps does not save battery life unless the app was not shutting down properly.

Next: Reboot the iPad

Quitting apps won't always do the trick. In this case, rebooting the iPad is the best recourse. This will flush everything from memory and give your iPad a clean start. Many people believe the iPad powers down when the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the iPad is pressed down or when the flap of their Smart Cover or Smart Case is close, but this only puts the iPad in suspend mode.

To reboot the iPad, hold down the Sleep/Wake button until instructions appear telling you to slide a button to power off the iPad. When you slide the button, the tablet will shut down and the iPad's screen will go completely dark.

Wait several seconds and then boot the iPad back up by holding down the sleep/wake button again. You will first see the Apple logo on the screen and your iPad should boot up shortly. Your iPad should run quicker, but if it starts bogging down, keep in mind the apps that are running at the time. Sometimes, a single app can cause the iPad to perform poorly.

Check Your Wi-Fi Connection

It might not be your iPad that is running slow.

It might be your Wi-Fi network. You can check the Internet speed of your Wi-Fi network by using an app like Ookla's Speedtest. This app will send data to a remote server and then send data back to the iPad, testing both upload and download speeds.

The average Wi-Fi network in the U.S. gets around 12 megabits-per-second (Mbps), although it is not uncommon to see speeds of 25+ Mbps. You probably won't see much of a slowdown with your connection unless it gets around 6 Mbps or less. That's around the amount of bandwidth it takes to stream movies and video.

If you are experiencing a problem with your Wi-Fi connection, try moving closer to your router.  If the speed increases, you may need to look into boosting your Wi-Fi range. This is common in larger buildings, but even a small house can have issues.

Make Sure You Are Running the Current Version of iOS

iOS is the operating system running on the iPad. While sometimes a major update will actually slow the iPad down a little, it is always a good idea to run the latest operating system. Not only will this ensure that you have the most recent performance tweaks, it also ensures that you have the latest fixes for any security issues.

You can check the version of iOS you are running by going into your Settings app, tapping General settings and tapping Software Update. If you are new to the iPad or iOS, here's how to upgrade to the latest version of iOS.

Install an Ad Blocker

If you are primarily seeing a slow down while browsing the web in the Safari browser but your Internet speed isn't slow, it may be more a symptom of which pages you are browsing than the iPad itself. The more advertisements on a web page, the longer it will take to load. And if any one of those ads stalls out, you may be left waiting for the web page to pop up. One solution to this is to install an ad blocker. These widgets enhance the Safari browser by disallowing ads to load on the web page. They make both for easier reading and faster loading. Sites like this one make money from ads, so this is a balance you have to wrestle with.

Turn Off Background App Refresh

This one could actually save you some battery life as well as keep your iPad lean and mean. Background App Refresh allows apps to refresh their content even when you aren't using them. In this way, Facebook might reach out and retrieve posts to your wall or a news app may fetch the latest articles. However, this uses a little bit of your processing speed and your Internet connection, so it could the iPad to run a little slower. This usually isn't the main cause, but if you often find the iPad running slow (and especially if the battery drains quickly), you should turn off Background App Refresh.

To do that, go into the iPad's settings. Choose General from the left-side menu and then tap on Background App Refresh from the General settings. In the next screen, tap the on/off slider at the top of the screen.

Clear Storage Space

If you are running desperately low on storage space, clearing up a little extra elbow room for the iPad can sometimes improve performance. This can be accomplished by deleting apps that you no longer use, especially games that you don't play anymore. You can see which apps are using the most space on your iPad by going to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud usage > Manage Storage (under the upper Storage section). This will tell you which apps are using up the most storage.

You can also speed up Safari by deleting your cookies and web history, although this will cause you to log back into any websites that have saved your login information.

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