Clean Installing iOS 7.1 May Fix iPad Air Low Memory Crashes

Mar 11, 2014 - 20 Comments

iPad Air with iOS 7.1 Some iPad Air owners have been impacted by a persistent crashing issue, where either the entire device crashes and reboots, or, more commonly, where the Safari browser crashes and randomly quits. The Safari crashing issue is often repeatable by pointing Safari at several Javascript heavy web pages with numerous tabs open, or by opening a PDF within a browser window with many tabs open. Upon investigating the iPad Air crash logs, the issue is almost always shown as a low memory error, signifying that available system resources are insufficient for the Safari actions.

Sure, there have been a variety of workarounds offered to prevent the iPad crashes, ranging from using fewer tabs when browsing with Safari, to turning off Javascript completely, to using alternate web browsers on iOS like Chrome, but none of those options are particularly ideal. Fortunately, the freshly pushed iOS 7.1 update may bring relief to many users who have experienced random crashing on the iPad Air.

Simply updating to iOS 7.1 through Over-The-Air or from iTunes may be enough for some iPad Air users, but if not, several of our readers have reported they have completely resolved the low memory crashes by performing clean installs of iOS 7.1 on their devices. Once a clean install has been performed, there doesn’t (yet) seem to be an indicator that setting the device up as new or that restoring from a backup has any difference, though since iOS 7.1 is still a fresh update it may take some time for results to come in about which is more effective.

Performing a clean install of iOS 7.1 is a fairly simple process, but for the unfamiliar we’ll walk through the steps below:

  1. Connect the iPad Air to a computer and launch iTunes
  2. Back up the iPad to iCloud or iTunes, if not both – do not skip the backup process!
  3. Select the iPad Air within iTunes, then choose the “Restore iPad” option
  4. Confirm that you want to Restore the device, which will erase everything on the iPad Air and reinstall iOS 7.1

The rest is pretty straight forward, iOS 7.1 will download from Apple’s servers, the device will reset to factory settings, and once it has rebooted you can either choose to set up the device as brand new as if it was right off the factory floor, or restore it from the backup you made to get everything instantly back to where you left it.

Because restoring an iOS device requires the firmware to download from Apple, that is usually why the process takes a while, thus some users may wish to expedite the process by downloading iOS 7.1 IPSW ahead of time while on a higher speed internet connection, then using the IPSW manually or simply placing the firmware file in the necessary iTunes folder on a computer to prevent the download from occurring again. Using ISPW is generally considered more advanced, but you can learn about it here.

We’ve heard several reports of this completely resolving the low memory errors and crashes with the iPad Air, a problem that seemingly was unique to that device and that did not appear on the iPhone or other iPad models. If you clean install iOS 7.1, let us know in the comments if this has resolved the low memory crashing for your iPad Air.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. CP says:

    It’s Sunday night and I cannot wait until tomorrow morning at 10am when my Apple store opens to return the measly 1GB of ram iPad Air… While my Apple store has been AWESOME in working with me they are at a complete loss and rather embarrassed about this crashing low memory crap. I sent an email to Apple corporate consumer affairs and was contacted by Suzanne Bradford…..totally useless, the guy that washes my car is a bigger help than she was. Helloooo Samsung

  2. Dean says:

    P.S. This may just be a coincidence, but another reason I’m starting to think this may actually be a hardware issue is because I’ve been noticing the screen flicker (slightly dim) a few quick times several seconds before the iPad blue-screens and dies. Most noticeably on the top tool bar where the signal, time, and battery percentage are displayed.

  3. Dean says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous! I purchased my iPad Air in November, and up until a month ago, I haven’t experienced a single crash. However, about 3 weeks ago, my Air started crashing 2-3 times per week and has since progressed to crashing 2-3 per day! …And while using different apps (a specific app or function doesn’t seem to be the problem). I could be running Twitter, iBooks, Tap Forms, Safari, etc. and it just blue-screens, then restarts. In addition, I rarely have multiple apps running simultaneously, and even when I do, it’s usually on 2-3 apps, tops.

    I have reset the iPad, I have restored the iPad, and I just updated to iOS 7.1.1 hoping that would solve things. But literally, less than 24 hrs. later and “boom” another crash. And this time, the iPad did automatically restart. I had to hold the power button several times to get it to finally restart.

    Next step is contacting Apple. But this much is for sure, I will not accept them “repairing” this unit. I will demand a replacement. I paid $800 for this device and it has never been dropped, scratched, abused, or even used outside of its protected case. I’ll be damned if I’m going to have some “genius” tear it apart and scratch it up, in an attempt to rebuild something that should be working.

    Very, very disappointed that this (obviously) widespread problem isn’t receiving the required amount of attention and support from Apple. Just another indication that Apple is slipping after the loss of Steve Jobs.

  4. Everal says:

    Some sites are not working on my ipad air with ios 7.1
    – device was restored with backup from earlier ios 7.04 with jailbreak (also was crashing to before)

    Tested with latest browser safari / icabmobile / chrome

    Anyone can confirm?


  5. M.C. Thompson says:

    7.1 did not solve the issue. Apple had to replace my first crashing iPad Air, which had 7.0.6, then 7.1 installed on it. The second iPad Air, that was shipped to me from China, already had 7.1 installed. The iPad started crashing 24 hours after I set it up, in a variety of native applications.

    I am now sending the device (my second Air) back to Apple, and asking them to REPAIR it, because I suspect the problem lies in the lack of quality control in China, with the current batch of iPad Airs.

    Perhaps it really is the OS, however, and Apple has not yet solved the issue.

  6. Grant says:

    I was experiencing this far too often for my liking when I purchased my iPad Air 64G and was on the verge of returning it ! I did see quite a few blogs about this issue so persevered until the recent 7.1 update . Since then I haven’t encountered it on either my iPad Air or my iPhone 5 .

  7. Peter Smyth says:

    The author of the article should be more informed. The issue was widespread on all iOS 7.0x models. There were numerous and long discussion threads.
    Apple acknowledged the problem finally, and said through engineers that 7.1 contained a fix. Before this they had replaced many iPads.

    I had seen it quite a bit on my iPad 4. On my new iPad Air I have seen it maybe five times in two week. Much better, but not totally fixed.

    I would be nice to see a reporter/blogger dig out he whole story.

  8. Michel says:

    Not true that browser crashes only happen on iPad Air. I have both Air and 3rd gen iPads and both crash Safari and Chrome on the same Java-heavy websites even with no other tab open. Some recent Androïd phones have 3 GBs of RAM. Why did greedy Apple skimp on physical memory. I am surprised at how subdued complaints about those crashes have been. I resent having to try a restore, and probably another one when yet another update shows up.

    A good place to test for crashes is Photography Blog>Camera Reviews>{brand} .

  9. Robberto says:

    I updated to 7.1 20 minutes ago and had at least 10 crashes after that. Worse than ever before. Use iPad Mini Retina.

    • PH says:

      Try a clean install as described here, sometimes upgrading can bring along old crud that causes conflicts or crashes

  10. John says:

    I am still experiencing low memory crashes with web browsers, Safari and Chrome. Nothing changed…
    1 gb of ram is the root problem for all…

  11. Petr says:

    It doesn’t help. IOS 7.1 Safari crash is better now, but still crashing in twitter.

  12. Robert D. says:

    Why do these updates always turn the damn Bluetooth back on? No wonder battery life is always worse following an update.

  13. Claude says:

    Calender will not work anymore om my iPad air
    Tries to open, but turn itself off right away

  14. Jim Moore says:

    IOS 7.1 fixed a bug that had kept my Airprint from working in 7.0.6. Airprint worked with 7.0.4 (my wife didn’t upgrade her iPad to 7.0.6 and her Airprint continued to work).

  15. Mike says:

    iOS 7.1 seems a lot better, like it’s not a beta version finally.

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