iPhone or iPad Running Slow After Installing iOS 5? Here’s How to Fix the Speed

Nov 15, 2011 - 41 Comments

iPhone, iPad, and iPod

If your iPad or iPhone is running slow after updating to iOS 5 you’re not alone, for many the update has made their device feel sluggish, with taps taking longer to register, stalls between swipes, and just a general noticeable decrease in performance. This seems to effect all iOS devices too, indicating it’s not necessarily a hardware issue but a software one.

There are two solutions that are both relatively simple, for best results you need to do both:

  • Update to iOS 5.0.1 – if you haven’t done so already, do it manually or through OTA
  • Back up and restore the iPad or iPhone after updating to iOS 5.0.1 – do this if you’re already running 5.0.1 and it feels slow, this works, we walk you through the process below

The iOS 5.0.1 update seems to make a difference in performance because whatever was constantly running in the background draining battery (location services?) was presumably causing the devices to run slow as well. This was partially resolved with some battery tips that involved turning off tons of features, but the 5.0.1 update helps for most users and is thus highly recommended in and of itself. Even after installing the update though, some users report sluggish behavior and in that case you’ll want to backup and restore.

Restoring the iOS Device to Resolve Speed Issues

How long this takes depends on how much media is on the iPhone or iPad and how large the backups are:

  • Connect the iPad, iPhone, iPod to the computer and open iTunes
  • Right-click on the device and choose “Back Up” and let the process finish, this may take a while
  • When the backup is finished, click on “Restore” (you can also select to back up from here) and let the device be wiped clean
  • Once the iOS device is completely restored and in it’s original state, go back to iTunes and right-click on the device name again, this time selecting “Restore from Backup” – this also may take a while but let it run

After the device is finished restoring from the newly created backup, it should be significantly faster than it was before running the latest version of iOS.

We’ve tried this on a variety of iOS devices and it seems to work wonders, did it work for you?

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Troubleshooting

41 Comments

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  1. Keith says:

    Taps take a long time to register on iPad 1, I will update to 5.01 later to see if it helps.

  2. Chip says:

    is it possible that the phone is just re-indexing after the 5.0.1 update and we are seeing potential “temporary” sluggishness similar to what happened after the Lion rollout?

  3. Sas says:

    I upgraded to 5.0.1 through OTA initially, this made my iPhone4 run really bad, when I was recording video it randomly stopped every 5-10 seconds! Also music playback stopped every few seconds. (this lasted days)
    I then thought I’d do a restore, iTunes first downloaded the full 5.0.1 file and then restored it using backup.
    It now runs as per normal again! phew!
    I think the OTA patch is a bit dodgy

  4. Chris says:

    I wonder if SSDs under IOS get fragmented.

  5. Chip says:

    Come to think of it my iPhone did start spurting obscene language at me post ota upgrade… i think it stole $5 off my dresser too…

  6. albertsw says:

    My iPod Touch 3rd Gen has been failing a lot since 5.0.1. First tried OTA update and it ran sluggish and accelerometer stopped working (came back once in a while). Tried Backup/Restore and it worked like a charm… for a few hours at least. It went back to being sluggish and accelerometer failing after a few minutes :( Still hesitating to Restore it for a second time…

  7. Sam says:

    I’ve got the 3GS iphone and thought the ios 5.0 was bad… after updating to ios 5.0.1 – my phone crashed and itunes doesn’t even recognize my phone. I had to restore it – but after two attempts – restore is not working. THANKS APPLE!!! I loved the iPhone before – and told all my friends “its the best 300 bucks I ever spent”. Now, after 2 botched software attempts, and an iCloud disaster (it deleted all my contents even though I followed instructions and backed up) – APPLE IOS IS COMPARABLE TO MS WINDOWS… How could they be so awesome and then just fall on their faces???

  8. Steve says:

    Fully restored my iPad 1 from scratch, no restore from backup.
    Installed all apps manually.
    Slooooooooowwww.
    It’s horrible.

    • Paul says:

      Did you update to iOS 5.0.1? If it’s still slow, you can try to disable a few of the Location Services, Notification Center items, and Spotlight searches for things you don’t use. All of those should combine to speed things up considerably if 5.0.1 didn’t in and of itself. Let us know, maybe I’ll do a separate write up?

  9. Eddy says:

    I’m having trouble with this. I plugged in my iPhone, clicked restore and it is telling me that it is unable to do so. I’ve even tried downloading the ipsw manually (I’ve made sure it is CDMA for my Verizon phone) and still unable to. Anyone running into this?

  10. Chris Philips says:

    Sure didn’t do me any good- the apps still catch when I’m sliding between screens, the phone still has to think hard before it opens apps (even well-designed apps) and every aspect of the interface has become clumsy- it’s like a black-marked knock-off of a good program. I hope Apple addresses this in 5.02, and soon!

  11. Chris Philips says:

    Sorry- black-market…

  12. Brendon says:

    No idea what i should do next…
    I have iOS 5 installed on iPod touch 4g, and its slow…really slow.Before ios 5 it was not slow.
    But after reading the commends here im afraid that my iPod is getting even more slower…so??!!! :/
    I think im gonna uptade to ios 5.0.1 and see what happend… ;/

  13. Morteza says:

    i restored iphone 3gs to custom ios 5.0.1
    itune shows restore completed and restarted iphone
    but iphone didnt start
    when i restore to original ios every thing is fine

  14. Terry Proveau says:

    Did the backup/restore/restore from backup today and made a significant difference. So far no more crashes or sluggish behavior. Thanks a lot for the instructions!

  15. Bharat Kumaraswami says:

    Upgraded my iphone 4 to ios 5.0.1 and its slower than a windowspc with 1GB RAM….this is really horrible since I thought they’d fix those issues in the update.. Also, my message,reminders and notification tones seem to lag when I receive a text…Anyone else facing this problem?

  16. PaperQueen says:

    Thanks for the clear info. Just did a backup/wipe/restore on my iPad (1 gen, 64 Gb) and it appears to be running full speed again. Whew.

  17. Shameka Jackson says:

    Tried the backup, restore from backup STILL NOT WORKING & WHEN TRYING TO WATCH VIDEOS VIA ITUNES/YOUTUBE/HULU KEEPS STOPPING UGH ;-(

  18. ryan says:

    guys, 5.0.1 is far slower on the 3gs. i cannot speak to any other devices. they did the same thing on the 3g update from 3 to 4.

    to fix the 3gs, put your phone back to 4.1. apple is still signing it. it is VERY fast on the 3gs.

    – put your phone into dfu mode.
    – download the 3gs 4.1 ipsw file from felix de bruns
    – open itunes and it will tell you the phone needs to be restored. HOLD SHIFT and press restore. point to the 4.1 ipsw file you downloaded.
    – you might need to do the update TWICE. I had to.
    – also, you might need to download iReb, and use the “fix recovery 1015 loop error”.
    – i did have to use the ireb, and i had to install the 4.1 twice. not sure why.

    my 3gs is super fast again and to hell with all future updates for the 3gs.

    really, as many have said, its a slower device….slower hardware….and just as you shouldn’t put windows 7 on a computer from 2003, we shoudln’t be putting ios 5 on the 3gs. albeit this is a much more compressed time frame but w/e thats just how mobile techology is progressing….quickly!

    from now on, simply don’t update unless you have a phone with hardware from the same generation as when the software was written.

    I did write apple a big letter on this. They burned us on the 3g, now they did it with the 3gs. i think they are pissing more people off than people who run out and update to the 4 or 4s..but thats just an opinion.

    cheers all hope it helps. i won’t be here to answer any questions. you can find many places online to explain how to downgrade the 3gs to 4.1. cheers. bob@hotmail.com

    • glass_walls says:

      Yep this is the best & ultimate solution for those idevices with 256mb ram & below… I downgraded my ipod touch 4g below 4.2 & damn! i tought i will never see my ipod again as fluid as when i 1st bought it..

  19. psyhunterson says:

    No. Restoring from a backup for a third time, still didn’t work wonders. My 3Gs runs terribly on iOS 5. whenever i open contacts, it gets 4 seconds (!) to open a contact’s information! Plus, the magnifying glass it opens when you correct while typing, it’s really slow! Another of my issues is the cover flow performance in music. The motion isn’t fluid anymore. It’s jerky. Battery drain problem another issue. I went to new performance report field in settings and saw that everyday I have incidents of “memory full” reports. I have turned off calendar notifications and ALL iCloud options but the memory problem remains. The worst problem is that of my contacts. When I really need to choose a contact’s number, the 4 seconds to open it feels like an eternity of frustration!

  20. Michael says:

    Sweet. Thx for the fix. Did wonders for my 3gs (I have all icloud turned off – don’t know if it would run well with icloud on).

  21. Arto says:

    Yes! It worked but how big was my disappointment when everything went back again as it was. I restored it without backing up to ensure that settings would not be saved, but even that didn’t help. It is slow again. (iOS 5.0.1, no Jailbreak)

  22. sidhu says:

    well m using a 3gs on ios5 with jailbroken and was having d same issue of slow and sluggish performance.
    i have tried the sleep n home button remedy n it worked fine and i could just use as before when it was running on ios 4.3.3. maybe you guys should try it out n check if it works for u.

    cheers

  23. Junio says:

    Thanks for ideas on how to restore normal speed to my iPad (No1).
    I went to settings and removed all notifications, except a couple. This immediately fixed the problem. Writing this letter would have been impossible before I performed this action!

  24. Nadeem says:

    I have 5.1.1 which slowed down my iPhone. What can I do?

  25. Ted says:

    You want my view, Its the same as the Iphone 3g, its Apples way of getting you to buy the newer ones, Sucks really because they release updates all the time :(,

  26. Tanya says:

    I restored about 4 times this week and went to verizon and all they did was restore it. I restored it by doing a complete Hdu restore and finally my iPhone 4 is running faster. I have turned off almost all notifications and location services and it runs good for a day but I have to reset my phone at least once a day and this has seemed to solve my problem. It is a pain when my home button randomly quits working but once I am able to reset after working the home button about 5 to 10 times it works perfectly again. I hope there is a new update and soon!

  27. Janelle says:

    Since I updated to 5.0.1 last week at apple, my phone sucks ! Won’t load any apps my Internet is lagging and I’m just plain frustrated at this poInt. Before the update I never had any issues

  28. Scott says:

    Ok… So I did it, Backup to iCloud/Restore/Restore from backup… This was from version 5.1.1, on my iPhone 3GS… Procedures went well… However, Apps didn’t not re-install, but that was no real concern for me, since they were all saved up in iTunes… So, I simply had to re-sync them to my iPhone… No big a deal, and actually, pretty convenient for me, simply because, before I start the sync process, I could check and uncheck everything I want and don’t want to re-install to my iPhone… Great way to save time from scrolling around and procrastinating! Finally, once all was “said & done”, the first thing I touched was my Facebook, being the slowest app, that had lately ben taking forever to load… I was amazed to see how fast it loaded up in no time at all! I don’t know what some of you did and did not do, for your iPhone to not work, but after reading and proceding with the steps “To the letter”, my old iPhone is working beautifully! Thanks!!

    • Anu says:

      I am going to do same for my 3GS as well. The reason your apps didn’t re-install was perhaps because you have not syced them with iTunes. You need to right click on device and select “Transfer Purchases” – the words tell it all.

  29. Eric Henning says:

    Worked for my iPhone 4 running iOS 5.1.1. Thanks!

  30. Anu says:

    Yes, my restore was smooth and seamless. Everything including apps restored. Will tell how speed is later..

  31. Anu says:

    After restore I removed apps that I do not use frequently plus all the photos. Now the phone is much faster. I don’t have to tap for one icon or letter 10 times…

  32. KR says:

    Unfortunately this is just what we are bound to with Apple. It’s their way of making you buy new hardware every 2 years. It’s sad, but it’s all about the money, not about the consumer.

    • peter says:

      I have ipod touch 4G and it so slow that it is not even usable. But it is apple device so the main reason for buying was USABILITY. Now I agree with someone above who already mentioned that Apple is becoming a new MS-DOS company.
      …. looking for new device which is smooth, fast, responsible and usable and looks nice. Any idea?

  33. Jeff says:

    Yes, this worked very well, thank you for the help!

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