I reviewed a photo app recently that just refused to perform at all once I downloaded and installed it. The screen looked jumbled and controls failed to work. I rebooted my iPhone 4, restarted the app and many of the problems went away.

Does the app you just downloaded refuse to work right? Does it crash every time you first open it? Try rebooting your iPhone. Much of the time, that fixes the problem and helps the app as well as your iPhone run smoothly.

When I was doing Mac OS tech support, rebooting the computer was one of the first things I’d try. It fixed the problem about half the time. Many people forget that the iPhone is computer, too — a pretty powerful one that’s probably a lot faster and with more RAM than your first desktop. Like its desktop and laptop counterparts, RAM usage becomes fragmented with use and the OS and apps can become less stable and start to behave strangely. Rebooting is the phone’s way of purging everything in the static RAM, reloading the operating system into memory and starting over. Don’t worry — your apps, photos, contacts and music are stored a different way on your iPhone and are unaffected by a reboot.

To reboot your iPhone, simply hold down the Sleep/Wake button for about three seconds (it’s at the top of all iPhones). Slide to power off. Once the phone shuts down, press the Sleep/Wake button again for about a second to restart.

Older iPhones — 2G and 3G — are especially prone to memory fragmentation. The 3GS has twice as much RAM as the original iPhones and the new iPhone 4 has 4x as much. All iPhones are subject to memory fragmentation and should be rebooted on a regular basis anyway.

Sometimes, a developer releases a buggy app and no amount of rebooting will fix that. But many times, an app may just need more RAM than is currently available to run smoothly — some photo apps are huge memory and CPU hogs. If it’s the latter, rebooting your iPhone is the quickest, best way to clear up the resources your apps need.



Got any other tips to keep your iPhone running smoothly? Why not share them in the comments below.