February 21, 2024

Tech Tips: Don’t let your mobile device slow you down

Is your phone or tablet growing slower? Old apps could be dragging it down, or it could be suffering from memory issues. Here are some tips on how to speed things up.

Most of us leave our tablets and phones on continuously. But, just like computers, mobile devices benefit from the occasional reboot. Before trying other troubleshooting steps, try shutting them down and turning them back on.

Another common cause of poor performance is old or buggy software. Make sure all system and app updates have been installed. You also can remove apps you’re no longer using, but find out if you need to unlink any associated accounts before doing so. Updates typically run faster on a Wi-Fi network than over a cellular connection.

Speaking of cellular connections, you can reconfigure your settings to stop apps you don’t use often from communicating unless you’re on Wi-Fi.

However, I encourage you to avoid connecting mobile devices to public Wi-Fi networks. You never know if someone else has a virus-infected 
machine or a network scanner designed to steal private data. It's best to run your updates on your trusted home or office network.

Some apps are more reliable than others. At best, unreliable apps may be poorly coded, causing memory issues and incompatibilities. At worst, they could be sending your private data to who knows where. Think twice before installing apps from little-known developers. It’s always best to stick with software that is widely used and well-regarded.

Phones and tablets tend to accumulate a lot of information: photos, music, videos, documents. You can check your system settings to see how much storage is in use. Make a backup, just in case, then delete anything you don’t need. Cloud storage can help you access data without taking up room on your mobile device.

Although animated backgrounds and widgets are fun, they also can drain resources. If you’re having problems with a slow device, try reducing the number of widgets and animations in use.

Battery performance is another factor in slowing down your device. You can switch to a low-power mode to save battery charge. Turning down the display brightness also can help. If charging takes longer than expected, double-check the charger you’re using.

Charging cables look much the same, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that some have different power ratings than others. For example, charging an iPad with a 5-watt cable will take longer than using a 10-watt one. Check your device’s specifications to find out which cables are compatible, and only use cables from known manufacturers.

Cheap knockoffs not only won’t work as well, but they also could cause a fire hazard.

It’s an unfortunate fact of technological life that your device will, at some point, outlive its usefulness. As developers update their apps, they don’t necessarily do much quality testing on older systems, meaning performance may continue to degrade. Once your phone or tablet no longer can accept the latest system updates, it’s running on borrowed time.

You’ll find more tips on how to troubleshoot mobile devices on my Tech Tips blog.

• Triona Guidry is a computer specialist and freelance writer offering tech support, web design and business-writing services. For computer help, visit her Tech Tips blog at lightningtechsupport.com.