Don't want to buy a new iPhone or iPad? Here's how to speed up your old one

Have you owned your iPhone or iPad for a year or so? Is it starting to feel a little sluggish? Here's a tried and tested way to speed up an iPhone or iPad that's simple to do and only going to cost you some time.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Have you owned your iPhone or iPad for a couple of years? Is it starting to feel a little sluggish? Here's a tip that might allow you to squeeze an extra year or so from your existing hardware.

Over the years I've come across countless websites and articles brimming with tips that claim to make your iPhone or iPad faster, and I'm here to tell you that most of them are garbage. Remember how "registry cleaners" promised to make Windows faster? Yeah, well, that sort of nonsense has now moved to iPhones and iPads.

And while I'm on that subject, no, there is no app that you can download and install to "optimize" your iOS devices. That's just snake-oil garbage.

That said, there is a tried and tested way to speed up an iPhone or iPad that's simple to do and only going to cost you some time.

Here's what you do: Wipe the device and reload your data from a backup.

I told you it was simple.

Some pointers before you go all hog wild and start wiping the 1s and 0s though.

  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACKUP! Either one up on iCloud or done via iTunes. If you don't have a backup then you're going to have to reload your stuff manually, and that's going to take a lot longer.
  • This process is going to take some time, so put aside a couple of hours at least to redownload all your apps and data. This is not something to do if you have a deadline looming or during lunchtime.
  • The longer it has been since your iPhone or iPad was last wiped (or new), the more mileage you'll get out of this tip. This is something I try to get around to doing once a year.

Create a secure, encrypted backup of your iPhone or iPad

The process is easy to carry out:

  • Familiarize yourself with the process before you start.
  • Once that is done, wipe your device (Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings, and from there you'll be guided through the wiping process).
  • Let the reset process do its thing. This shouldn't take long.
  • Now you're ready to recover your data from a backup.

I've carried this out many times, most recently on a four and a half year old iPad 2 that's seen better days and the results were quite noticeable. The iPad went from feeling old, sluggish and quite honestly a bit rubbish to speedy and very usable (and it also meant that the owner can squeeze more life out of their initial investment).

Another thing you can do if you're feeling braver and have more time on your hands is to wipe your device and then re-set it up as a new device (which means you reload all your apps and data into it manually). I tend to do this when:

  • I purchase a new device
  • When a new major version of iOS is released

I find that when I do this, I experience far fewer problems following the release of new hardware or software, and it also gives me a chance to purge myself of apps and data that I no longer use (my devices tend to accumulate a lot of digital garbage, your may be different).

Be aware though that following this procedure you will have to set up everything - apps, passwords, settings, Bluetooth pairings, etc - from scratch, which can take a few hours. If you're not up to that task, or just don't have the time, then this is definitely not for you. It's also a good idea to have a backup just in case you lose something in the process.

See also:

Five iPhone battery-saving tips that really work (and five that are useless)

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