How to Troubleshoot Problems on Your Android Tablet

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have an avuncular Mr. Wizard type available at a moment’s notice to fix your Android tablet? He could just walk in and let you know what the problem is and how to fix it. Then he’d give you a cookie. Never mind that such a thing would be creepy — getting helpful advice is worth it.

Fixing random and annoying problems

Here are some typical problems you may encounter on your Android tablet and some suggestions for a solution:

General trouble: For just about any problem or minor quirk, consider restarting the tablet by turning it off and then turning it on again. This procedure will most likely fix a majority of the annoying problems you encounter.

Some tablets feature the Restart command on the Device Options menu: Press and hold the Power/Lock key to see this menu. If a Restart command is there, use it to restart the tablet and fix whatever has gone awry.

Check the mobile data connection: As you move about, the mobile-data signal can change. In fact, you may observe the status bar icon change from 4G to 3G to even the dreaded 1X or — worse — nothing, depending on the strength and availability of the cellular data service.

Some advice for random signal weirdness is to wait. Oftentimes, the signal comes back after a few minutes. If it doesn’t, the mobile data network might be down, or you may just be in an area with lousy service. Consider changing your location.

Check the Wi-Fi connection: Ensure that the Wi-Fi network is set up properly and working. This process usually involves pestering the person who configured the Wi-Fi router or, in a coffee shop, bothering the cheerful person with the bad haircut who serves you coffee.

Reset the Wi-Fi connection: Perhaps the issue isn’t with the tablet at all but rather with the Wi-Fi network. Some networks have a “lease time” after which your tablet might be disconnected. If so, turn off the tablet’s Wi-Fi and then turn it on again. That often solves the issue.

For a home or small-office network, Wi-Fi connection problems might be resolved by restarting the router: Unplug the router, wait about a minute, and then plug the router back in. Especially for older routers, this trick solves many connection issues. (Getting a new router is the long-term solution.)

Music is playing and you want it to stop: It’s awesome that your tablet continues to play music while you do other things. Getting the music to stop quickly, however, requires some skill. You can access the play controls for the Play Music app from a number of locations. They’re found on the lock screen, for example. You can also find them in the notifications drawer.

An app has run amok: Sometimes, apps that misbehave let you know. You see a warning on the screen announcing the app’s stubborn disposition. When that happens, touch the Force Close button to shut down the errant app.

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When you don’t see a warning or when an app appears to be unduly obstinate, you can shut ’er down the manual way.

Reset the Android tablet software: When all else fails, you can do the drastic thing and reset all tablet software, essentially returning it to the state it was in when it first popped out of the box. Obviously, do not perform this step lightly. In fact, consider finding support before you start the following process:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Choose Backup and Reset.

    On some Samsung tablets, the Backup and Reset item is found on the General tab.

  3. Choose Factory Data Reset.

  4. Touch the Reset Tablet or Reset Device button.

  5. Unlock the tablet.

    If you’ve configured additional screen locks, you need to work the lock before you can proceed.

  6. Touch the Erase Everything button or Delete All button to confirm.

    All the information you’ve set or stored on the Android tablet is purged. That includes apps you’ve downloaded, music, synchronized accounts — everything.

Again, do not follow these steps unless you’re certain that they will fix the problem or you’re under orders to do so from someone in tech support.

You can also choose to reset the tablet’s software and erase everything should you ever return or sell your Android tablet. Of course, you probably love your tablet so much that the mere thought of selling it makes you blanch.

Finding help

Some tablet manufacturers, as well as cellular providers, offer more help than others. Though it’s not part of stock Android, some tablets come supplied with the Help app. It may be called Help or Help Center or something similar.

You may find the old, dratted manual lurking in eBook form, which doesn’t make it any better. Look for it in the Play Books app.

A Guided Tour app or Tutorial app may also be available, which helps you understand how to work some of the tablet’s interesting features.

Getting support

You can use several sources for support for your Android tablet. So no matter how isolated you feel, help is amply available.

For app issues, contact the developer in the Play Store app.

For issues with the Play Store, contact Google.

Support might also be available from your tablet’s manufacturer, such as Asus, Samsung, or LG. Information about support can be found in those random papers and pamphlets included in the box your Android tablet comes in.

When contacting support, it helps to know the device’s ID and Android operating system version number:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. On some Samsung tablets, touch the General tab.

  3. Choose About Tablet or About Device.

    The tablet’s model number, as well as the Android version, is listed on the About screen.

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