What an iPhone Memory Leak is and How to Fix It

When you’re installing updates for your iPhone apps from the App Store, you may occasionally notice an note that says that the app was updated to fix a memory leak. It’s a pretty cool term, isn’t it? Memory leak sounds like something that an evil scientist would do to your iPhone, and a lot of iPhone owners worry about memory leaks without actually knowing what they are or how they prevent an iPhone from working properly.

Here’s a quick description of an iPhone memory leak, what it is, and how to fix it.

What’s A Memory Leak? In programming, a memory leak is a command that creates an endless cycle of unfulfilled commands. An app creates a memory leak when it draws on your iPhone’s resources to complete a task, but due to a programming error, it doesn’t stop drawing on those resources–it keeps drawing more and more, eventually causing severe lag. In severe cases, a memory leak can cause an iPhone to run impossibly slowly and can even cause the phone to freeze or crash.

The important thing to know is that quite a few other issues cause these types of symptoms–it’s almost impossible for an iPhone user to make a single-handed diagnosis of a memory leak. An iPhone might simply have corruption issues or a host of other problems, so don’t start complaining about an app’s memory leak issues when your phone’s acting a bit laggy.

Fixing A Memory Leak. Because a memory leak is a problem with an app, not the iPhone, it needs to be fixed by the app’s programmers. However, memory leaks are usually spotted very quickly, as they’re considered a serious design flaw, so if you’ve noticed a certain app causing huge performance issues with your iPhone, check the App Store to see if there’s a new version of the app and install it.

If there isn’t a new version of the app to install, you can still fix the app in some cases by reinstalling it. This doesn’t technically fix a memory leak, but it does fix issues that might be misinterpreted as a memory leak–including slow, laggy performance and bugs that stop the app from working properly.

To reinstall, you’ll have to delete the app first. Hold your finger on your iPhone’s main screen until a wiggling “X” appears in the upper right hand of the app’s icon. Hit the X to delete the app, then go to the App Store and reinstall it.

Restart your iPhone after the app is installed. It’s good to restart your iPhone about once a day, as it closes all the processes that the device uses to run its apps and sort of allows it to recoup. It’s especially important to restart after reinstalling an app, as it allows the app to run properly for the first time.

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