8 ways to troubleshoot Instagram if it’s not working properly

Instagram logo on phone
You can try several troubleshoot methods on Instagram when the app is malfunctioning.
  • If Instagram is not working properly, there are many potential causes, each with its own troubleshooting method.
  • The most common steps to solve a problem is to restart the app or your phone, see if the Instagram service is down or try the app on a different device.
  • If you can't add more accounts to follow, you might have hit Instagram's limit and you need to unfollow some accounts before you can add more.
  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Instagram is among the top five social media platforms with more than a billion users. Odds are, if you are sharing photos online, you're doing it with Instagram. Which is what makes it so frustrating if Instagram is not working for you. Here's how to get Instagram up and running again for you.

What to do if Instagram is not working

The best way to solve an issue with Instagram is usually the same as fixing any other kind of tech problem. You troubleshoot it a step at a time, usually by trying the easiest or most likely potential fix first, and then moving on to more cumbersome solutions. Here are eight ways to troubleshoot your problem, from easiest to hardest.

Are you following too many people?

Right off the bat, let's make sure your problem isn't related to the number of followers. If you see an error that says you can't follow additional people, that's not an issue with the app, your phone or the data cache - you have reached the maximum number of accounts (7,500) you can follow. If you encounter this problem, you need to unfollow accounts before you can follow new ones.

1. In the Instagram app, tap your account avatar in the lower-right corner.

2. At the top right of the screen, tap Following.

3. Scroll through the list and unfollow a few accounts you no longer need by tapping Following. You should see the button turn blue and change to Follow.

[instagram-not-working1.png:  / Instagram on iOS.]
Instagram limits the number of accounts you can follow to 7,500, so you might need to unfollow people before you can follow more.

Try to restart the app (or your phone)

If an app appears to be misbehaving on your phone, your first step should always be to restart the system to flush out any corrupted memory or cache files.

First try to completely close Instagram (if you need a refresher, here's how to close an app on Android or close an app on iOS), and then run Instagram again. If the problem persists, shut down your Android phone or shut down your iPhone and restart it. Then try Instagram again.

Check to see if Instagram is down

Instagram has a reliable network, rarely experiencing the kind of network errors that you might notice when using the app. Even so, it's an easy thing to check for, so there's no reason not to check if restarting your app didn't solve the problem. You can check Instagram's network status at DownDetector, or just search for "Is Instagram down" in a Google search.

[instagram-not-working2.png:/ Instagram status on Downdetector.]
If Instagram isn't working, you can check DownDetector to see if the site is down.

Ensure Instagram is up to date

If you haven't updated your apps in a while, Instagram might be misbehaving simply because the app is out of date. It's a good idea to leave automatic updates turned on, but if you need to manually ensure you have the latest version of Instagram installed, you can turn on automatic updates on your iPhone or update apps on your Android phone.

Try it in a browser

After trying the first few troubleshooting steps, it might be a good idea to see if Instagram works in a different environment. You could ask a friend if Instagram is working for them, or just try running Instagram on another device - like in a browser on your desktop computer. If you already are using it in a browser and don't have a different device available, you might try a different browser, like Firefox instead of Chrome.

Clear your cache

If Instagram works for other people or you were able to access Instagram in a browser but not on your phone, that sounds like you might have a problem with your cache - it might have some corrupted data.

If you are using an Android device, you can simply clear the cache. The steps might very slightly depending upon which phone and version of Android you are running, but here's the general procedure:

1. Start the Settings app.

2. Tap Apps & Notifications.

3. Go to the list of apps (you might need to tap See all apps) and tap Instagram.

4. Tap Storage & cache.

5. Tap Clear cache.

[instagram-not-working3.png:  The app settings screen on Android.]
Clearing the cache may resolve an unusual Instagram issue.

If you're using an iPhone, there's no way to clear the cache without uninstalling the app, so do that - uninstall Instagram from your iPhone, and then reinstall it from the App Store. You won't lose any data, because Instagram stores all your photos and account settings online.

Ensure you have enabled permissions

Like many apps, Instagram requests permission to use various services and resources on your phone. If you don't grant those permissions, Instagram might not work properly. Check your permissions and enable them to see if that solves your problem.

If you have an Android phone, follow these steps:

1. Start the Settings app.

2. Tap Apps & notifications.

3. Go to the list of apps (you might need to tap See all apps) and tap Instagram.

4. Tap Permissions.

5. One at a time, tap each permission and choose Allow only while using the app, then use the Back arrow at the top to return to the previous screen and move on to the next permission.

[instagram-not-working4.png: / The app permissions screen on Android.]
Try giving Instagram additional permissions to see if that resolves your issue.

If you have an iPhone, do this:

1. Start the Settings app.

2. Scroll down to the list of apps and tap Instagram.

3. Turn on each permission, such as Microphone, Camera, Contacts and Photos.

[instagram-not-working5.png: / The permissions screen for Instagram on iOS.]
Turn on some disabled permissions to try to resolve problems with Instagram.

Report the problem

If none of these troubleshooting tips solved your problem, you can check Instagram's help center or report the problem you are having.

1. In the Instagram app, tap your account avatar in the lower-right corner.

2. Tap the three-line menu at the top right and then tap Settings.

3. Tap Help.

4. Here in the Help center, you can file a report about the problem you're having or read Instagram's help and support articles.

A beginner's guide to Instagram, the wildly popular photo-sharing app with over a billion usersHow to log into Instagram from a mobile device or computer, or troubleshoot if you can't log inHow to clear your Instagram cache and free up space on your phoneHow to add additional accounts on your Instagram app, and switch between them
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