Notice that your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is running as slow as molasses? Wondering why it used to be so fast but seems to be crawling recently? There are a variety of reasons why an iOS device could start to slow down, and they mostly boil down to RAM use on the device and how many apps you have taking that RAM up.

Here are some tips to try to reclaim some of your RAM and generally speed up how quickly you’re able to swipe, switch apps, or load new Web pages:

Quit Recent Apps in the App Switcher. If you notice that a specific app is always slowing down your phone after you open it, it could be that the app is abusing its multitasking privileges and keeping itself open in the background when you don’t want it to. Double-tap your home button to bring up the App Switcher, then long press on one of the apps in the switcher. The apps will go into “wiggle mode” and each one will have a red icon showing. Tap the red icon to quit the app, and it will not bother you until you open it again. You can use this trick to close a bunch of your recently opened apps and free up RAM on your device.

Restart Your Phone. Obviously an easy solution, restarting will quit all your apps and you will have lots of free RAM and a snappy device once again. You can restart by holding down the power button until you see “Slide to Power Off.” We recommend restarting your iPhone in this way about once a week for the best performance.

Respring or Free Up RAM with SBSettings. If you have a jailbroken iPhone and the app “SBSettings,” you can use some of its features to speed up your device. Bring up the SBSettings box and tap “Respring”; this will have the same basic effect as restarting your phone. All your apps will be closed and SpringBoard (the main iOS launcher) will be relaunched and as good as new. You can also click “Free Up RAM” in SBSettings and it will quit some background apps and give you some more memory to work with.

Double-Check Your Jailbreak Apps. It’s possible that you have Jailbreak apps installed that you aren’t using, and they can be taking up more of your phone’s resources than you think. Having WinterBoard installed but no theme in use, for example, is a huge waste. Open up Cydia, check the Manage -> Packages screen, and remove any packages that you aren’t actively using.

Downgrade your iPhone 3G to iOS3. I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about using iOS4 on an iPhone 3G. It’s slow, buggy, and basically shouldn’t have been released. Unfortunately Apple doesn’t exactly make it easy to downgrade, so if you’ve upgraded your iPhone 3G to iOS 4 and aren’t happy, you can follow this excellent LifeHacker guide to get your phone back to iOS3.

Restore in iTunes. Of course, the nuclear option is to simply do a software restore in iTunes, which will take your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to factory settings. You’ll have to restore all of your apps and settings and re-jailbreak if you had that before, so this should only be a last resort.

Let us know if these tips work for you, and feel free to share your own performance improvement tips in the comments!