How to Factory Reset and Wipe Your Android Mobile Device

Factory resetting your Android mobile device essentially restores it to its original factory settings, erasing all your personal data in the process. You may want to factory reset your device for several reasons:

When Should You Factory Reset Your Android Device?

Before selling or gifting your device – Factory reset ensures no personal data is left behind that the next user could access. This is crucial for protecting your privacy.

To fix performance issues – Over time, your Android device may experience lag, freezes, or crashes. A factory reset clears out any software issues causing these problems and gives your device a fresh start.

After a malware attack – If your device has been infected by malware, viruses, or other security threats, a factory reset removes any harmful programs.

To uninstall stubborn bloatware – Some pre-installed apps can’t be fully deleted normally. A factory reset allows you to wipe them.

Before upgrading to a new Android version – Doing a fresh install of a major OS upgrade like Android 13 can avoid potential bugs.

If you’ve forgotten your lock screen password/PIN/pattern – You can factory reset to regain access to a locked device.

Back Up Your Data

Before factory resetting, make sure to back up any data you want to keep. Your contacts, photos, music, documents, app data and some settings can be backed up to your Google account automatically if you have that enabled under Settings > System > Backup.

However, it’s still smart to manually back up anything important. You can copy files to a computer or cloud storage. Use app-specific backup features as well.

Factory Reset Your Android Device Step-By-Step

  1. Charge Your Device – Factory resetting can take up to an hour. Make sure your battery is at least 70% charged beforehand.
  2. Go to Settings – Open your device’s Settings app, usually in the app drawer or by swiping down from the top.
  3. Select System – Go to the System section, usually near the bottom.
  4. Choose Reset Options – Select the Reset option, which may also be called Backup & Restore.
  5. Pick Factory Data Reset – Choose the setting to erase all data/factory reset your device. The exact terminology varies between Android versions.
  6. Confirm and Wait – Verify that you want to erase everything and wait for the process to complete. Your device will restart automatically.

Alternative Factory Reset Methods

If you can’t access your device’s settings normally, you can still factory reset using Android’s recovery mode:

  • Turn your device off completely
  • Press and hold the power button + volume down button until the recovery menu appears
  • Use volume buttons to select “Wipe data/factory reset”
  • Confirm the action to wipe your device

This will bypass any password or PIN but still erase all your data.

What Happens After Factory Resetting Your Android Device?

Once the factory reset process finishes, your device will reboot and walk through the initial setup like when it was brand new. This includes:

  • Selecting your language and region
  • Connecting to a Wi-Fi network
  • Adding a Google account and restoring any data backed up to your Google account
  • Agreeing to Terms of Service
  • Setting up security measures like a lock screen PIN or pattern

At this point, your device is back to a clean, fresh state as if you just took it out of the box. You can start adding accounts, apps, and customizing everything to your liking. Just make sure to avoid whatever issues originally prompted you to factory reset!

Factory Resetting Doesn’t Fully Erase Data

While factory resetting goes a long way for data removal, it doesn’t erase your data as thoroughly as software data erasure tools. Sophisticated recovery software can still pull remnants of data from a reset Android device.

If you are selling, gifting or disposing of your device, consider using professional erasure tools like Blancco or iShredder to overwrite storage sectors after factory resetting. This replaces all traces of your personal data to prevent any chance of recovery.

Don’t Forget Google Accounts!

Many Android devices require you to enter the previously associated Google account credentials after a factory reset to proceed. Make sure you know the password to any Google accounts on your device before resetting it.

If you do factory reset and can’t sign back into the device, you’ll remain locked out without the proper account details. Removing all Google accounts before resetting prevents this.

Factory Resetting Encrypted Devices

If your Android device utilizes full-disk encryption, make sure you decrypt data first before factory resetting. Otherwise, you may lose access to data without having the encryption keys.

To decrypt an encrypted Android device:

  1. Go to Settings > Security > Encryption & credentials
  2. Tap “Decrypt data” and follow the prompts to remove encryption

Now you can safely factory reset without worrying about losing data.

Final Tips for Factory Resetting Android Devices

  • Create a backup before wiping your device – you can never be too careful about data loss!
  • Delete any content you wouldn’t want the next owner accessing – factory reset isn’t foolproof for erasing data traces.
  • Make sure you have account credentials handy if needed after resetting to set up the device again.
  • For maximum data removal when disposing of a device, use data erasure software after factory resetting.
  • Research whether your specific Android phone or tablet has any quirks related to factory resetting before you start.

Factory resetting your Android mobile device doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make sure your data is backed up, you follow the steps carefully, and take any extra precautions needed for your situation. With this guide, you’ll be able to wipe and refresh your device without hassle.