Having problems with a sluggish iPhone or iPad? Don't be afraid to reset!

I've had a third-generation iPad — the first Retina Display-equipped model — since it was released. I've never upgraded, not even to the new iPad Air or iPad Air 2 because the iPad 3 has always done what I wanted it to do.

Or at least it used to. When I first updated to iOS 8, it killed my iPad. Made it a doorstop. The iPad became sluggish and unresponsive. It became almost impossible to type on it; launching apps became excruciatingly slow, and I'd occasionally get spontaneous restarts too. I was afraid it wasn't going to be useful anymore. I've recently resurrected it and done a clean install with iOS 8, and I'm quite happy with the results.

My iPhone 6 has taken up a lot of the tasks I'd relegated to the iPad. The larger screen size and incredible performance make it a formidable mobile device.

"Keep it on iOS 7" had been my standard advice for people. I'm afraid I may have steered them wrong.

What's more, with the iPhone 6, the iPad was no longer central enough to my workflow that I felt a need to invest time to get it working again. A month or two ago I finally set it aside and forgot about it. I'd written it off as an "edge case" for iOS 8 — a machine that's capable of running the operating system, but that probably would have been better left on iOS 7.

"Keep it on iOS 7" had been my standard advice for people who ask about iOS 8 on an iPad 2 or Retina iPad. And I'm afraid I may have steered them wrong.

I've made plans to travel to San Francisco next month for WWDC, the annual gathering of Apple developers. It's going to be a very busy week. Boston to San Francisco is a long plane ride, and I'd like to be productive during my transit.

My "daily driver," as it were, is a 2013 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. I love my Retina MacBook Pro. It's the best Mac I've ever owned, but it's big. At 6'1", I'm big too, and trying to use the Retina MacBook Pro in a coach seat on an airplane is almost impossible for me. Even if I can get the laptop open, I'm elbowing my seatmates and taking up way too much space.

I'd love a new MacBook, and know that it's the perfect travel computer for me. It just isn't in the budget right now, so I have to make do with what I have.

I hauled out the iPad and charged it up. I updated the software too, but still ran into difficulty just like before. It would spontaneously restart on occasion, and was sluggish and unresponsive. Not something I could see myself using for more than a few minutes at a time, and certainly not useful for writing articles and staying in touch with colleagues and everyone else while traveling.

Fortunately for me, nothing on the iPad was critical enough that I couldn't live without it temporarily, and everything else, from game data to pictures and documents, lives in the cloud now.

So I nuked and paved the iPad, and it's like a brand new machine.

I'm not sure why the iPad was running so poorly before. But I didn't have to resort to putting the device into Recovery Mode and restoring it through iTunes. Resetting it, a task you can accomplish from the Settings app on the iPad itself, was more than sufficient.

I nuked and paved the iPad, and it's like a brand new machine.

Now I've paired the iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard. I have set up all the apps I'm going to need when I'm on the road, to stay in touch with coworkers and have access to my documents. I'm quite pleased with the results. The iPad is working better now, with iOS 8.3 and the apps that I need, than at any time I can remember since I first installed iOS 8 last fall.

Sure, the Retina iPad isn't the fastest device. Its battery life could be better, and it's heavier than a new iPad Air 2 would be. There's no Touch ID either, but as I've said before, I love using older things. And given how old some of my gear is, a circa 2011-iPad is still a relative novelty.

I plan to test my new setup this coming week by bringing it with me to the coffee shop a few times, to make sure this is going to work. But all signs so far point to a successful rebuild.

The moral of this story: If you're having a lot of troubles getting your older iPhone or iPad to work, my recommendation is to reset it (after backing it up, of course). You may find that it gives your device a new lease on life. Here are instructions to do so, for the uninitiated: