I lent my iPad to my nephew, now it runs... poorly
September 17, 2017 2:47 PM   Subscribe

My family came to visit for the summer, my nephew needed to do some schoolwork and his iPad was broken. I let him use mine, he did his work, all's well. Except it runs like crap.

I'm not an iOS guy, I almost never use the tablet. But I have to hang out with mom for a few days at the hospital, and found it was really slow and non-responsive. Video stutters, pages take a long time to load, scrolling locks up. I ran a speed test on the hospital's wifi, it's 6/1 meg, so I don't think the connection is the problem.

If I had problems like this on my PC, I'd:
Run Ccleaner
Scan for malware
Check the task manager to see how many processes were running
Delete unneeded programs and restart

I don't know how to do the equivalent on an iPad. Any suggestions?
posted by Marky to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
All the stuff you'd do on a PC is irrelevant or impossible on an iPad.

How old is this iPad? I had a 2nd-generation iPad and upgrading iOS at some point (version 9?) just overwhelmed the poor thing, resulting in the kinds of problems you're seeing. I wonder if your nephew helpfully updated your software, including an OS update.

Restarting is always an obvious thing to try, if you haven't already.
posted by adamrice at 2:56 PM on September 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Close apps. There are probably a ton of apps open. Or just reboot it.

(to close apps: Double-click the Home button to see the open apps. Swipe up on the app's preview to close the app.)
posted by erst at 2:57 PM on September 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

You have only tried it on the hospital wifi? Public wifi can be incredibly flaky and inconsistent, especially at a hospital where the quality of the public wifi is very low down on the priority for their IT staff. Don't blame the hardware for bad internet until you get to internet that is actually decent.
posted by rockindata at 3:14 PM on September 17, 2017 [11 favorites]

Seconding "close apps". It's amazing how many apps sometimes end up being open at once, and that does slow it down significantly, until it basically doesn't work anymore.
posted by bluesky78987 at 3:32 PM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is regarding battery life, but it seems to me that anything that would be eating up processing time would affect battery life, so it strongly suggests to me that closing apps won't help much. It can't hurt to do it anyways, but just temper your expectation.
posted by juv3nal at 3:40 PM on September 17, 2017

There's more about force quitting apps here.
posted by juv3nal at 3:43 PM on September 17, 2017

Do an erase all content and settings. The OS on the iPad is sandboxed, so erasing and setting the device back up will clear anything he may have done on the iPad. Instructions here.
posted by bluloo at 3:46 PM on September 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Closing apps does almost nothing on an ipad - it's not like a PC - for the most part these are not "running" in the backgroud, they are instead "frozen" in the background, they are not taking up significant system resources. By closing these apps you are not only wasting time to go through the close process - you are making it take longer to reload the apps you use often.

Your most likely culprit is the hospital wifi. You can get a good speed test result (bandwidth) but find the network to not be responsive (latency). This can be especially true when you have many people competing for the network. One ipad looking for 1 mbps on a 6 mbps connection is no problem. 100 people looking for .01 mbps each on a 6 mbps connection will wreak havoc if the system has not been designed properly or provisioned for this number of users...
posted by NoDef at 4:47 PM on September 17, 2017 [15 favorites]

A few times I've had trouble with a slow internet connection on my iPad, which was solved by powering off the iPad (hold the on switch down until the power slider appears). Things were fine when I turned it back on. Never figured out what the problem was.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 4:55 PM on September 17, 2017

Seconding the suggestion to just completely wipe it.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:16 PM on September 17, 2017

Did he install any apps? If so, uninstall them.

Go into the battery section of settings and it will show you which apps have used the most battery recently. That's a pretty good indicator of what's using the CPU.

Nthing that it could be the hospital network. They're likely running what's called traffic shaping network software that might allow a good quality connection to a speed test site but reprioritize traffic for video to the point it gets choppy.

How out of date is the version of iOS it's running? If you're running something old like version 9 or older, it's possible he might have gotten infected with something (but still pretty unlikely compared to Windows).
posted by Candleman at 7:09 PM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

First try just rebooting it if you haven't done that already; sometimes my iPhone starts getting a little weird and rebooting it tends to make it go back to normal. If it still runs like crap after that, your next step is indeed to wipe it. Make a backup of your data in iTunes, do a factory reset, and then spend a few hours putting your settings and data back the way you like them.

Yes, it's annoying to have to do that. A factory reset is a pretty blunt instrument. But that's Apple for you—they're not really into giving users access to the inner workings of their products, so the only option you really have is the nuclear one. It's for our own good, I'm sure.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:11 PM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would add: check Settings/General/Storage and iCloud Usage. Don't worry about the iCloud Usage part so much, just the local Storage.

Nephew may have added music or movies or pictures. If available storage gets low enough this will affect functioning of the os negatively.

Tapping Manage Storage will show you which apps are hogging. Also, poorly written apps can sometimes suck up storage.

Look for any apps that he installed and delete them.
posted by qurlyjoe at 7:19 AM on September 18, 2017

Yep, if a restart doesn't help then try deleting stuff and see if more free space makes it run like you're used to. iOS has virtual memory, running low on swap space will make the system chug.

Is your nephew old enough to be asked what he installed/did? That would help. As would knowing the iPad model.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:32 AM on September 18, 2017

Seconding the warning above - except in the rarest of instances (an "obviously stuck" app), force-quitting an app on iOS does nothing for the iPad. Nothing. The sooner people stop doing this, the better.

If you need peace of mind, you're best off connecting to reliable WiFi, updating any apps that need updates, and doing a restart.

Beyond that, if you let us know the hardware version (how old is it?) and the software release it's running (under Settings -> General -> About -> Version), that might help.

Thankfully, no need for things like CCleaner. ("The popular disc cleaning software CCleaner's most recent version is a payload for malware.")
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2017

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