Troubleshoot your Apple iPad

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Anyone who has spent any amount of time with an iPad will know that -- like all computers -- it sometimes doesn't do what it's supposed to do. It could be a frozen screen, a system that overheats or a refusal to recharge. The result is the same: You have to figure out what's wrong with it and how to get it back on the straight and narrow.

A major problem is that the iPad doesn't come with a detailed manual or any diagnostic software to figure out what's going on under the skin. The downloadable user guide (available as a PDF) and Apple's support site are good starting points, but even those resources are sometimes not enough when you have a possessed iPad.

The iPad is a great device, but it can occasionally go wrong.
What follows are some useful troubleshooting routines for the things that most often go wrong with an iPad, along with several tips and shortcuts for how to get the system to act the way you want it to. These can help when the screen is unresponsive or when you have trouble synchronizing your iPad to a computer.

In many cases, the fix resides in the iPad's Settings page, which is where all the systemwide configuration choices are made. There are limits, however, to what you can do. For example, forget about changing the battery, adding memory chips or recalibrating the touchscreen. You need to send your iPad back to Apple for such repairs.

With the tips, tricks and solutions that follow, your iPad will run a lot smoother, and you'll get your work done a lot quicker.

Troubleshooting tricks

Wi-Fi connection problems

A Wi-Fi network is the only free way to connect an iPad with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, there are many potential connection snags. The iPad's Wi-Fi range is more limited than that of most notebooks -- the iPad has a maximum range of about 65 feet, while most notebooks manage over 100 feet -- so if you're having problems, getting closer to the router will help.

If your connection gets dropped repeatedly, try renewing the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) lease. Go to the Network section of the Settings page, click on Wi-Fi and then tap the little blue arrow on the right side of the row for the network you want to use; click on the Renew Lease button to refresh the connection with the router.

If that doesn't help, use static IP addressing instead of DHCP. Create an IP address that isn't being used by the router -- it will have the prefix (I generally pick a number at the top of the router's range to avoid conflicts with DHCP IP addresses.) In the Settings page, click on Static and enter the address in the IP Address field.

Power problems

Most iPads get between seven and eight hours of on-and-off use per charge. Not getting close to that? Here are a few things you can do to keep it going and going and going:

  • Dim the screen. Go to the Brightness & Wallpaper section of the Settings page to turn off auto-brightness and then set screen brightness to between half and three quarters.
  • Deactivate Bluetooth. If you're not using a wireless keyboard or speakers, turn off Bluetooth by going to the General section of the Settings page, clicking on Bluetooth and tapping the switch to Off.
  • Turn off the modem. If you're not using the 3G modem, you can turn it off by tapping the Cellular row on the Settings page and then tapping the switch to Off.

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