Update: January 19, 2015 – Scroll to bottom to see the latest drama.
Update: March 25, 2015 – Two months later, I did an official time test – see the results here.
It was a chilly October night in 2012. Friends had gathered to my surprise to celebrate my birthday – with great Chinese food, a bonfire, and finally getting the gang together, it was a great time… And at the end of it all, my parents put the icing on the (not literal) cake – they gave me the shiny new tablet of my dreams, a 16GB Google Nexus 7.
I’d never had a tablet before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d use it for, or if it would really be used at all. I had gotten frustrated reading my morning news on my phone, so I figured for the sole use of reading it could be justified, but found it was so much more. Reading, video, browsing, gaming, everything I wanted to do my little Nexus 7 could plow through it – once, when my laptop was down, I actually spent a couple of days doing productive web design on it (though I don’t recommend it for your sanity). Even though it had newer models released with even sharper screens and more internets packed in, not once did I feel like I needed to replace it… Until the last month, after an update to Google’s KitKat OS, 4.4.4 (I think).
From then on, it crawled. To load a web page, I’d have a good fifteen second delay, if it didn’t time out at all. The battery life was pathetic – no matter what apps I removed or how little I used it, it would go from full charge to empty in twelve hours. Google had killed my little tablet, no doubt as part of their grand scheme to make me buy a new one. I was disgruntled, and while (trying to) browse for other tablets as a replacement, a notification popped up.
“A system update?” I didn’t say out loud, because I was alone. “Yeah right, that’ll go REAL well.” Figuring I had nothing to lose, I agreed to install Google’s new OS – 5.0.2, named Lollipop. It took FOREVER – hanging on install, non-responsive, and generally being shady – the update failed.
I was determined. “You won’t get my money today, Google!” inner me exclaimed, being overly dramatic about an oversized smartphone. I went for the nuclear option, and after the smoke cleared… My tablet blazes. It’s as fast as it was the day I got it, with amazing battery life and almost no delay. Google hadn’t been out to get me, they’d been like a tech guardian angel – always looking out for their little Nexus users.
I know that my experience was not an isolated incident – page after page of search results showed people with the same issues I was experiencing, so without further ado…
How I improved my 2012 Nexus 7 Performance
- Commit to the end goal. It’s going to get ugly, people.
- Plug in your device to a computer so you can view it as a storage device. Some people would say to copy everything – that’s silly. Instead, I copied the few Kindle books I had, along with the entire contents of the
/Android/folder (where most program info and game saves are stored).
- Factory reset the device. This is where the tears come down and you’re wondering if you’ve made a huge mistake.
- If you already had the update downloaded, it should update to the newest OS. If so, skip to Step 7.
- If you didn’t already have the update downloaded, then update your device to the newest version of the OS. It should have no issues getting through the update process, though it may take a while – leave it for a couple of hours so you don’t keep stressing.
- Now that you’re in Lollipop, factory reset AGAIN. Just to be safe.
- You’re clear! Download apps, copy back files, and your Nexus 2012 will act as good as new.
It seems silly to write an article that just says to factory reset, but after trying every option under the sun, this was the solution. I’ve tried rooting, I’ve tried managing startup programs, I’ve tried reducing programs, and I was considering chicken sacrifice, but luckily it didn’t get to that. The honest-to-god only solution I could find that worked was a straight out factory reset, something I hate to do, so if you’re wary then you’re in good company… I wouldn’t have believed me, either.
In the end, though, I can assure you it was worth the work of it… Lollipop is here, and the water feels fine.
Update – January 19, 2014
As it turns out, the initial luck I had with Lollipop was short lived. Although the device is still very fast running apps (even demanding RPGs), something has dealt a serious blow to the internet connectivity. It could take me five times longer (if I’m lucky) to load something on the Nexus 7 than my laptop sitting next to it – yes, I even tested. Looks like I’m back on the market. :/
Update – March 25, 2015
Frustrated, I did a time test – you can see the results here.
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