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Close every app except iTunes. Some apps may run a “thread” that downloads in the background. Even if the app is not downloading files, it may download updated information, such as weather or stock updates, as well as notifications. This will hog up bandwidth and slow your iTunes download. You can close apps by either using the 4 finger slide up gesture to reveal the “app tray”, or double clicking the home button. Then hold your finger down on any app in the tray until the apps start to wiggle. Once the apps in the tray are wiggling, you can close them by clicking on the “x” button at the top left corner of each app. Make sure not to close iTunes!
Turn off iCloud backup. Plugging in your iPad has the side effect of starting iCloud backup. This will slow your download. Unless you are OK with watching your show sometime next week, I would suggest turning off iCloud backup. You do this by going to settings -> iCloud -> Storage & Backup and then switch off iCloud backup. Remember to turn this back on, if you find it useful. I find it completely useless. Apple’s backend is so slow, it takes 5-10 hours to backup a few megabytes of data on my iPad. Furthermore, this completely chokes my internet connection, as like most people, my upload speed is a fraction of the download speed. However, applications need to upload in order to download. For example, when you click a link on a web page, you upload information and the remote server then downloads the web page. Even downloading requires the client to upload information that it received a certain amount of data. Cable, DSL, and 3G/4G Internet connections all have much slower upload speeds than download speeds. This causes iCloud backup to completely choke one’s Internet connection. I turned it off on all of my iOS devices. It it not only useless, but it completely kills my internet connection. You can backup to your Mac or PC using iTunes. Make sure to backup the backup, in case your computer gets wiped out!
It’s ludicrous. If Apple is wondering how to spend that pile of cash, may I suggest beefing up their data center?!? Maybe investing more in quality assurance and fixing bugs? I have to wonder if this is the ivory tower syndrome. Perhaps these wealthy top-level Apple execs have no idea of iTunes’ and iCloud’s poor performance. After all, they live in big, fancy houses with dedicated T1 lines (which, by the way, is tax deductible!). Cities like Cupertino, Mountain View and Palo Alto have much better ISPs than the rest of the nation. While this will not speed up Apple’s backend, it enables use of a feature like iCloud backup, without completely shutting down one’s Internet connection. Perhaps Steve Jobs’ famous line should have had an addendum — “It Just Works in my big fancy house with an ultra-premium internet connection.” I would not be surprised if select Apple employees connect to a special Apple data center. The cobbler’s children are wearing the best shoes, I guess…
The iTunes ecosystem could use many improvements. It is buggy and has design flaws. Their data center is so slow, it makes broadband seem like 1990s dial-up. This “tech tips” article is one of several upcoming pieces intended to help Apple users cope with these frustrating issues. Follow me on Twitter, G+ or Tumblr so you can get the latest from Appledystopia.