4 signs that it's time to restore your iPhone

Does your iPhone exhibit any of the following symptoms?:Laggy access to the Text/SMS applicationLonger that five second delay to get a live image in the Camera applicationLong pause before being able to scroll in ContactsDelay when clicking on the letter shortcuts in ContactsIt if does, you may be suffering from Molasses iPhone Syndrome and the only cure it is to nuke and pave.

Does your iPhone exhibit any of the following symptoms?:

  • Laggy access to the Text/SMS application
  • Longer that five second delay to get a live image in the Camera application
  • Long pause before being able to scroll in Contacts
  • Delay when clicking on the letter shortcuts in Contacts

It if does, you may be suffering from Molasses iPhone Syndrome and the only cure it is to nuke and pave.

Back when I used my notebook a lot more I performed a ritualistic reformat and re-install of my hard drive every couple of months, six months at most. I would perform the backup/reformat/re-install dance when I was upgrading hard drives, otherwise swapping hardware and when my machine would start acting weird. An old colleague and fellow Mac tech (Scott McCarty) coined the phrase "Nuke and Pave" for the process.

Although it takes a lot of time to set up a hard drive after a new system installation (resist the urge to re-install all of your old apps, people!) the benefits are well worth it. The OS is a lot more responsive after you clean out all the cobwebs and purge the leftover code from betas long since deleted.

I find that the same "nuke and pave" procedure also works well on my iPhone when it's starting to lag.

Back in July I wrote about the magic bullet fix for my iPhone ills (spoiler: Restore it and set it up as a new iPhone). I restored my iPhone as new again last night and it's running much better. There are some caveats to this approach, however.

When setting up a restored iPhone "as new" some things will disappear:

  • All of your Notes (email them to yourself first, then switch to Notebook or Evernote)
  • Any unsynced Photos (sync them first)
  • Phone favorites (just re-add them late)

Also, all of your Settings revert back to their default factory settings, including:

  • Email settings, i.e. your default account (watch that one), 5-line preview, the annoying "Sent from my iPhone" signature, etc.
  • Caps lock, gets turned off. Apple needs to make this setting the default

You'll also have to re-enter your visual voicemail password and re-connect to your Bluetooth headset, but they're not a big deal. One positive side effect of restoring my iPhone was that the Passcode Lock reverted back to being disabled. I don't think that there's another way to turn it off.

All-in-all it's a good idea to nuke and pave your iPhone if you're having suspicious and longer than usual delays. I recommend doing it every six months as normal preventative maintenance.

Have you had to nuke and pave your iPhone? Was it any faster afterward?

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