Why Is My iPad So Slow? Learn How to Fix & Speed Up Any iPad

Here's how to fix your lagging iPad—You can even speed up an old iPad!

If you have an old iPad, it may not be as fast as it used to be, leaving you wondering, "Why is my iPad so slow?" There are lots of reasons why your iPad may be running more slowly than when you first bought it, and luckily there are just as many ways to speed it back up again. Whether you have an original iPad, iPad 2, iPad mini, iPad mini 2 or a newer iPad version like the iPad Air or iPad Air 2, we'll cover why your iPad is running slow and lagging, and learn how to speed up an iPad, old or new, and improve its overall performance.

Related: Which iPad Do I Have? How to Identify the Different iPad Models & Generations

iPad Slow? 14 Ways to Fix a Slow iPad

We've already written a comprehensive iPad multitasking guide, shown you how to set up your iPad for work, gone over what to do if your iPad's sound isn't working, and what to do if your iPad or iPhone won't update. For more great iPad troubleshooting advice, check out our free Tip of the Day. Now, let's get into why your iPad is slow and how to fix it. We'll go over Wi-Fi connection, internet speed, updating iPadOS, how to reset your iPad, how to delete apps on an iPad, how to clear your cache or cached data, and more.

Jump To:

1. Has Apple Throttled My iPad?

I don't think you'd be paranoid to wonder if your iPad is slowing down due to throttling. After all, Apple has slowed down processor speeds on older iPhones in the past, so there's a possibility it could be happening to older iPads as well, right? Despite Apple's deliberate slowing of iPhone processing speed to prevent unexpected device shutdown, throttling is most likely not the reason your iPad is lagging. This is because Apple "dynamically manages performance" for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus only. Of course, Apple did hide the truth about throttling older iPhones for far too long, creating a trust gap with customers; but for this issue, I'm going to choose to believe the tech giant learned its lesson and won't make the same mistake again. 

2. Check Your Internet Connection

If your iPad started slowing down out of the blue or slows down intermittently, you may want to troubleshoot your internet connection. Here are a few things to try:

Connect to a different Wi-Fi signal and see if your problem goes away. If so, your iPad was probably being slowed down by a weak Wi-Fi signal; start by moving your Wi-Fi router closer to where you usually use your iPad; you can also elevate your router to improve its signal, and make sure your router isn't placed close to a microwave, which can interfere with signal strength. 

If the above steps don't help, try restarting by turning off your iPad, then unplugging your modem and router for at least 30 seconds. Plug your modem and router back in, wait until no new indicator lights are blinking, then turn your iPad back on and see if things have improved.

Do An Internet Speed Test

ipad speed test

Image courtesy Ookla/speedtest.net

It's also worthwhile to check on your internet speed; there are lots of different speed tests available online; a favorite of mine is fast.com, which quickly shows you how many Mbps, or megabits per second, you have available for downloads. If you're looking for more information, try Ookla, which lets you know your connection's download and upload speed, as well as Ping (the reaction time of your connection, measured in ms, milliseconds.) 

If most of what you use your iPad for consists of downloading activities such as streaming movies and videos, you'll probably only need to use fast.com and make sure your internet speed is keeping up with your household's demand. AT&T also has a great Download Speed Calculator you can use to see approximately how much download speed all your various devices and activities require.   

If you use your iPad primarily for creating and uploading work such as videos to the internet, or if you frequently make calls using services like Skype, you'll need to make sure your upload speed is up to snuff as well. Here's another great tool that lets you enter all your devices and typical usage, calculates your needed download and upload speed, and refers you to all the area internet service providers that can meet your needs.

If you've restarted your modem and router and made sure they're optimally placed, and have run a speed test that shows your internet service is fast enough to meet the needs of your household, your slow iPad problem is most likely an issue with the device itself. Let's go through the different possible ways things could be going wrong, and how to fix them. 

3. Update to the Latest iOS or iPadOS

Some folks with older iPads have experienced slowdowns after updating to a new iOS or iPadOS, but is this the fault of the operating system? The answer to this question is... kind of. New operating systems are meant to fix glitches, bugs, and security issues, which can make your iPad faster, but they also introduce features that might strain the processing speed of older iPads. It's also an unavoidable fact that as time marches on, some devices are simply left out of iOS and iPadOS updates. Clearly, then, advice to update your iPad to the latest OS doesn't work for people whose devices have been left behind by Apple's software developers. However, Apple has promised that iPadOS 14 will speed up devices rather than slowing them down like some past updates.

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2

iPadOS 14 Compatible iPads

4. Restart Your iPad

If you haven't already done so while checking your internet connection and updating your iOS, the next thing I'd recommend is to restart your iPad. Restarting your iPad won't delete any of your data or settings; all you're doing is turning off your device, then turning it on again to reboot your iPad. Rebooting clears your RAM (random access memory) and stopping all processes that are currently taking place. If you have too many apps running, music playing, and so on, everything can slow to a crawl if there isn't enough RAM to keep up. To restart: 

  1. Press and hold the Top or Side button until you see the slider appear.
  2. Drag the slider to power off. 
  3. Wait a minute or two, then press the Top or Side button again until the Apple logo appears; your device will then restart. 

5. Memory vs. Storage: Clear Out Storage on Your iPad

Read this helpful article on the difference between memory and storage; it explains that apps, videos, documents, photos, and music stored on your iPad take up storage space. While RAM and storage are two different things, iPadOS acts as a buffer between the two, shutting down background processes that aren't being used so that RAM can be used where it's needed. Something you can do to help iPadOS have less to manage, and therefore speed up your iPad, is to clear items from your storage that you no longer need. First, let's learn how to check how much storage you have available.

How to Check Storage on Your iPad

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.

    why is my ipad so slow
     
  2. Tap General, then tap iPad Storage.

     how to reset ipad  
     
  3. Now you can see how much of your iPad's storage is in use, and what it's being used for.

    check ipad storage
     

You'll notice in the image above that there's an option called Offload Unused Apps. This is a great feature that saves documents and data while automatically offloading unused apps if storage is low. Unfortunately, this feature appeared for the first time with iOS 11, so if you have an older iPad that can't upload that operating system, you'll need to delete unused apps instead to save storage.

6. How to Delete Apps on Your iPad That You Don’t Use

If your iPad is running slowly, it's probably a RAM issue rather than a storage issue unless you've nearly maxed out the available gigabytes of storage. If your iPad's storage really is nearing maximum capacity, though, it can help to delete apps that you rarely or never use. Here's how to delete apps on your iPad.

  1. Open the Settings apptap General, then tap iPad Storage again.
  2. Now, tap on an app that you'd like to delete, then tap Delete App when the option appears.

    how to speed up ipad 

7. Stop Background App Refresh

While we're speaking of apps, let's talk about another way apps can slow down your iPad. Most of us probably open an app, use it for a bit, open another app, and so on; we may have several apps all open at once at any given time. This isn't a problem in itself, but if Background App Refresh is on, then your iPad is using RAM to refresh every one of your open apps. Here's how to choose whether you'd like to turn Background App Refresh on or off on an app-by-app basis.

  1. Open the Settings app, tap General, then tap Background App Refresh.

    my ipad is slow
     
  2. From here, you can choose to toggle off Background App Refresh for all apps, or go down the list of your apps and toggle off and on as you see fit.

    background app refresh on ipad

8. Move Photos & Videos to Storage

Photos can eat up a sizable chunk of your iPad's storage capacity; if you haven't already, now's the time to offload those pictures. If you have iOS 8 or later, which is compatible with every iPad except the original, you'll be able to use iCloud to save all your photos, so if anything should ever happen to your iPad, they'll be preserved. The problem with this solution is that if you delete photos from your iPad, they'll also be deleted from iCloud! To save your photos while also freeing up storage space on your iPad, your best bet would be uploading them to an external hard drive or computer not connected to your iCloud account, then deleting them from your iPad. Getting on a regular schedule of deleting photos from your iPad will help keep your device running more quickly, as well as making the task less daunting. 

9. Move Downloaded Music to Storage

Another storage hog that you may want to consider offloading to your external hard drive is any music from iTunes or Apple Music you've downloaded to your iPad. To check how much storage space is being used by your Music app:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap iPad Storage.
  4. Scroll down and tap Music.

    how to clear ipad

You'll see how much storage is being used in the Documents & Data section; in my case, it's only 33 KB. 

10. Cache Cleaner: Delete Your Browser Cache, Cookies & Web History

Whichever your preferred internet browser is, it tracks and stores a lot of information about your internet usage, including recent searches, a history of web pages you've visited, a list of anything you've downloaded, requests from web pages, and much more. While this cache of data can prove convenient and improve load times, it can also eat up storage space. For this example, we'll clear Safari's browser cache, including website data and cookies in this example.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    why is my ipad so slow
     
  2. Tap Safari.

    ipad 2 slow
     
  3.  Tap Clear History and Website Data.

    speed up ipad
     

11. Change Your Graphics Settings

Let's get back to RAM for a minute; something you might not realize your iPad is using working memory for are graphics settings. These settings can be changed to save processing power and speed up your iPad; to accomplish this:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Accessibility.
  3. Tap Display & Text Size.
  4. Toggle on Reduce Transparency.

    toggle on reduce transparency
     
  5. Go back to Accessibility and tap Motion.
  6. Toggle on Reduce Motion and Prefer Cross-Fade Transitions

    speed up ipad
     

12. Turn Off Siri & Search

Something else you can try to free up some processing power is to turn off Siri & Search. Changing this setting will turn off Spotlight and Siri Search, which may prove to be inconvenient. The benefit, though, is that turning these features off will save the processing power it takes to index every item on your iPad. To turn off this feature:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Siri & Search.
  3. Here's where this gets a bit time consuming, but then again, having the ability to decide which of your apps you'd like Siri &Search turned on or off for will let you leave your most essential searches on while turning off those you really don't need indexed.
  4. If you want to disable Suggestions while Searching, Suggestions on Lock Screen, Suggestions on Home Screen, and Suggestions when Sharing, toggle all four off.

    toggle off siri suggestions
     
  5. Now, tap any app below Siri Suggestions and toggle off Show Suggestions from AppSuggest AppShow App in Search, and Show Content in Search, as well as Show Suggestions from App under On Lock Screen.
     

13. How to Factory Reset Your iPad Settings

If none of the previous steps have helped your iPad to speed up, your last-ditch attempt should be a factory reset. Factory resetting your iPad will wipe all your settings while preserving the data and apps you've chosen to keep on your device. Once this is accomplished, you'll need to restore all your settings to the way you prefer them, which may take a bit of time! To restore your iPad to factory settings:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Reset.

    ipad mini slow
     
  4. Tap Reset All Settings

    reset ipad 2

14. What to Do with an Old iPad: Apple Trade-In & Apple Recycle Program

If none of these tips had sped up your iPad, the time has come to consider replacing it. Take the steps needed to take to erase your personal information from your iPad before you sell or recycle it, as well as how to restore your data to your new iPad once you've purchased it. Before you get your new iPad, take some time to consider which iPad data plan is right for you.

Apple has a program you should definitely check out, called Apple Trade-In. This free trade in and recycling program will give you an Apple Store gift card for the value of your old iPad, and recycle any components that can't be reused.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Topics

Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays is an SEO Content Strategist and Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and has written hundreds of in-depth how-to and troubleshooting articles. She's a former Associate Editor for iPhone Life magazine, and has written for the Iowa Source, as well as web content for education marketing. Leanne has an associate's degree in education, with a focus on curriculum development, as well as a bachelor's degree in science. She has over nine years of experience with SEO, social media management, and web development and writing. Despite years of web work, Leanne is by no means an early adapter; she's only owned a smartphone for five years, which makes her highly sympathetic to the learning curve of new iPhone owners. She enjoys making reader's lives easier and putting her education experience to work by walking them through the most practical ways to use Apple devices, step-by-step.

In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.