Downloading iTunes

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Downloading iTunes is slow

Let’s face it, iTunes is slow. It takes forever to download a movie or TV show. Albums download quickly, only because they are relatively small in size. A one hour HD quality TV show, however, is approximately 2GB of data. This is not necessarily an issue, as most people have fast broadband connections capable of downloading 1GB in at least 30 minutes. The iTunes backend, however, is dead slow. It doesn’t matter how fast your ISP is. The bottleneck is Apple’s data center. In this tech tip, I will provide some helpful information for downloading iTunes on your iOS device. I will focus on the iPad, however, you can use the same techniques on your iPhone or iPod Touch. All of these devices run the iOS operating system and have essentially the same user interface and functionality.

When you are downloading from iTunes, it is important that you do not lock your device, if it is unplugged. By this, I mean pressing the power button to turn off the screen or using the auto-lock feature. Locking your device can halt the download process. This doesn’t always happen, which seems to indicate it is a defect. It seems that if anything stops the download (Apple’s slow servers or ISP issues), if your device is locked the download will not resume. This can be frustrating! Ideally, one would like to start a download, lock the device to save power, and just forget about it. This is not advised, at least if you want to watch your program in the near future.

You can set the auto-lock feature to “never” by going to settings -> general -> auto-lock and select “never”. Remember to change this back if you rely on this feature to save power. If you plug your iOS device into a charger, then you can lock the device without interrupting downloads. Perhaps the defect is related to power conservation. My hunch is that if nothing is happening on the iPad, and it is not charging, it goes into a deep sleep.

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1 comment

  1. Funny. I was listening to public radio (not sure if it was an NPR program or The California Report), but they mentioned Google’s new internet service in Kansas City, which will be blazing fast. The reporter claimed that you can download The Godfather movie from iTunes in 45 seconds. Wrong. Apple’s backend is the bottleneck. I tried to track down the story online and comment on it, but I couldn’t find it, so here is my comment. You can have the fastest internet service in the world, but Apple’s servers will still be the bottleneck. This is all the more reason why techies like me should report on technology. The media often gets these things wrong, and the blogosphere is even worse because they often intentionally distort the facts.

    Perhaps Google Play has a fast enough backend to do this. Apple is not good with all things Internet. This is where Google excels. I will try downloading a movie on Google Play and write a piece on it. It could be a great alternative for people fed up with iTunes.

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