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How to factory reset your Android phone

Update: Tips for more devices
How to factory reset your Android phone

Has your smartphone suddenly frozen or stopped responding? Most of the time, restarting your phone should fix the problem. However, in some more serious cases, you have to resort to a factory reset. This is also something you should do before selling your device to a new owner. Read on to find out how to do both a soft and a hard reset of your Android phone.

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How to restart your Android smartphone

Sometimes, phones freeze up for no apparent reason. While it's annoying, it can usually be fixed quickly and easily by restarting - also known as "rebooting" or doing a "soft reset" of your phone. This will give your phone a fresh start, and in theory, all your photos, apps and settings should be left intact. Here's how to do it:

  • If your phone suddenly freezes, just hold down its power button for 30 seconds and it will restart itself.

Soft resetting your Android phone is just that simple! Yet, sometimes phones can continue having problems, so it might be necessary to do a factory reset - a more extreme measure that will wipe out all your data, but will usually fix more stubborn issues.

How to factory reset your Android smartphone

If restarting your device doesn't help and your phone is still acting up, you might want to try a factory reset. This will restore your smartphone to its original manufacturer settings. This means that all apps will be erased, along with files, settings and manufacturer app updates. However, you don't have to worry about your phone being rolled back to an earlier version of the Android OS. Your smartphone does not keep an original image of the operating system - once updated, you can't revert to an older version.

The process is also sometimes referred to as formatting or doing a "hard reset". However, hard resetting your Android smartphone isn't actually that difficult. The quickest and most painless way to do a factory reset is through the Settings menu. If that isn't possible, you can also reset in Recovery Mode. Here are the instructions for both.

Factory reset your Android phone from the Settings menu

Warning: this process will erase all the data from your device's internal storage, including personal files like photos. Be sure to back up all your phone's data beforehand. The way to do this differs a bit from device to device, but the most common path is:

  1. In the Settings menu, find Backup & reset, then tap Factory data reset and Reset phone.
  2. You'll be prompted to enter your pass code and then to Erase everything.
  3. Once that is done, select the option to reboot your phone.
  4. Then, you can restore your phone's data.
AndroidPIT google play not working 7
Sometimes you just have to go for the last resort. / © ANDROIDPIT

On HTCs, Google Pixels and some other devices you can find the factory reset option this way:

  1. Go to Settings and scroll all the way down to find System.
  2. Tap on System and find the Reset option.
  3. From the list, tap on Factory data reset.
  4. You will see a list of data which will be erased, along with signed in accounts and the Reset phone option on the bottom.
  5. Tap it and select Erase everything.
factory reset
How to factory reset on most Pixel and HTC phones. / © AndroidPIT

On a Samsung phone, the menu path is slightly different. Here is how you can factory reset a Samsung smartphone:

  • Go to Settings, then General Management.
  • From there, tap on Reset, which you can find at the bottom.
  • You will see three options - Reset settings, Reset network settings and Factory data reset.
  • Tap Factory Reset. You should then see a long list of accounts, apps, etc. which will be erased from your phone.
  • If you've made up your mind, scroll to the bottom and tap Reset.
samsung a9 factory reset
Factory reset path on a Samsung A9 with Android Oreo and Samsung Experience 9.0. / © AndroidPIT

We must note, however, that if you are experiencing minor issues, the Reset settings or Reset network settings might be better options. The first one will return default settings for all system and manufacturer apps, except the security, language and account settings. However, personal data and settings of downloaded apps won't be affected.

The Reset network settings option will reset all settings for Wi-Fi, mobile data and Bluetooth. We advise you to have your Wi-Fi password saved or written down somewhere else before you do this.

Finally, if you're still having trouble finding the factory reset option on your phone, simply use the search tool and type in 'factory reset'.

Factory reset Android in Recovery Mode

If your phone is so messed up that you can't access your Settings menu, there's still hope. You can reset in Recovery mode, using just the buttons of your phone.

If possible, back up your phone's data first, as this process will remove all data from your phone's internal storage.

  1. Turn your phone off.
  2. Hold the Volume down button, and while doing so, also hold the Power button until the phone turns on.
  3. You'll see the word Start, then you should press Volume down until Recovery mode is highlighted.
  4. Now press the Power button to start recovery mode. You should see an Android robot now.
  5. Once you're in Recovery mode, press and hold the Power button, and while doing so, press the Volume up button once, then let go of the Power button.
  6. Press Volume down until Wipe data/factory reset is highlighted, then press the Power button to select it. 
  7. Once that's done, press the Power button to select Reboot system now.
  8. Then, you can restore your phone's data.

Have you tried doing a soft or hard reset of your Android phone? How did it go? Let us know how it went in the comments.

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  • Unfortunately Google play services has stopped

  • My Samsung galaxy note 3 doesn't play music through Bluetooth

  • Hello, I am from Ethiopia. I recently got a handle down phone of a family member. which I reset and used. only to find out now that it had some very important data on it. I don't mind losing my data but is there any way to get it back?

  • thanks work for me

  • Superb information.

  • D. L. 9 months ago Link to comment

    One of the first things to do, is clear cache for ALL apps. In main phone settings app, open storage, then scroll down to clear cache. But, if that doesn't do it, then this rarely used trick works wonders, especially after a major OS update.

    From main phone settings app, open apps, hit the menu (three dot) top right on that page, then you see options to configure apps, system apps, etc. Tap the
    "Reset All App Preferences" and that will erase all app settings. It's one step below a factory reset, without loosing any data or having to backup all data. You'll have to redo all settings manually, or when prompted by each app, but it fixed a major battery drain I had after updating to nougat.

    I also recommend you find ways to keep most of your data backed up, just in case you ever Do Need to Factory Reset & or lost & damaged phones.

  • I was having problems with the drop down not working, the phone not answering calls, etc. on our old Moto G and finally got it solved by using the procedures above under Factory reset Android in Recovery Mode. Yeah! Thank you Jesus for Google, AndroidPIT and Brittany.

  • my samsungA8 is not switching off.plz help

  • Thanks for sharing

  • Should note there is a less drastic alternative to full factory reset using the same Recovery Mode (Power/Volume restart) menu - wiping the system cache. The key presses and content of the hidden Menu varies by device - usually the OEM's website will provide steps. Wiping the system cache will often cure problems (especially after a major system upgrade leaving a lot of useless temporary muck) and does NOT wipe personal data and apps / settings, or restore bloatware as a factory reset does. Certainly worth trying before the factory reset "nuclear option".

  • My little sister(4yr) was playing with my phone and she mistakenly factory reset my phone so all my apps,games and file were gone but I had backed them in my hard-drive so always remember to back-up your pictures,music and very important files!

  • Will preinstalled bloatware be removed with factory reset?

  • thanks you

  • It works....yay!!!

  • if you take out a SIM card before you sell your phone I don't want to sound stupid but can somebody just buy a SIM card and how much are they?

  • Yes factory reset is nice but I recently had to and reset part is fine it's the other part that really sucks and that's Google, My things are alleged to be back up to Google and I only got a quarter of my contacts back contacted Google and that was not any help at all sent me to web Google contacts and they have this box in the way and of course not all contacts were there now I got some old some brand new ones but non of my most important contacts yes, I have just ran into problems with anything that has to do with Google ,there apps 3rd party apps. I will say one thing Google does not have the users best interest for that I am leaving Google for apple.

  • Anyone know if my Tune in recordings can be backed up so I can restore them after a reset on my nexus tablet?

    • Hard to say with Google I have nexus 6 Motorola and I this week had to do a factory reset and only gave me a quarter of my contact's so

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