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No matter what device you have, over time your Android operating system may start to do things you don’t want – like crashing, running slower than you’d like or killing your pets. We can’t do much about that last one, but for everything else a factory reset might do the trick. Here’s how to factory reset Android.

How to factory reset Android: the obligatory warning about backups and stuff

A factory reset is designed to return your device to factory fresh condition (with a few exceptions: if you’ve upgraded Android itself you won’t travel back in time to the version your device shipped with), and that means without apps, data or your settings.

Your Google, Samsung or other account should enable you to get all your stuff back after a factory reset with the minimum of fuss, but from time to time things can go wrong. If anything is important, make sure you have a backup you can rely on, and if it’s really important, make sure you have more than one backup. There’s no sadder sound than the howl of someone who now has a device that's shiny and new but none of their data.

AndroidPIT Android 5 1 Lollipop Google backup settings
Don't even think about a factory reset without backing up your device first. / © ANDROIDPIT

How to factory reset Android: the quick and easy way

In the majority of cases you’ll be able to perform a factory reset on your Android device through the Settings menu, and that’s far and away the easiest way to do it. The actual design of the screens may vary a little bit from device to device, especially when manufacturers have put their mucky fingers on stock Android to add their own artistic interpretations, but the basic procedure is the same. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go into Settings
  • Go into Personal > Backup and Reset
  • Enter your password or PIN if requested
  • Make sure Automatic Restore is checked
  • Tap on Factory Reset Data > Reset Phone
  • Again, you might be prompted for your password or PIN here
  • Tap Delete Everything
  • Choose Reboot

And that’s it. Your phone should now reboot in sparkly new condition. You can now use your Google account (or Samsung account, or other manufacturer-specific account) to get your apps, data and settings restored.

androidpit factory data reset
The quickest way to reset your device is to head for the Settings screen. / © AndroidPIT

How to factory reset Android when you can’t get into the Settings screen

Resetting your device via the Settings screen is all well and good if you can access it, but if the device has frozen solid or the touchscreen refuses to accept your taps, it’s time for plan B. The good news is that Plan B isn’t much more complicated than Plan A. It just involves a little bit of fiddling with the device’s buttons.

To do it:

  • Turn off your device
  • Press and hold Volume Down and Power while the device turns itself on
  • When you see the options screen, use Volume Down to move down and highlight Recovery Mode
  • Press the Power button to confirm your selection
  • Wait for the image of the sad Android, then hold down Power. Keep it held and press and release the Volume Up button.
  • Once again, use the Volume Down button to navigate. This time you want Wipe Data / Factory Reset. Use Power to confirm the selection.
  • Use Volume Down to highlight the Yes -- Delete All User Data option. Use Power to confirm.
  • Wait a bit for the reset to do its stuff and then choose Reboot to restart your device.

Once again, the next step is to use the appropriate cloud account to restore your information.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 recovery mode confirm factory reset
If you can't get into the Settings screen you can reset using the hardware buttons.  / © ANDROIDPIT

What does the Android backup service back up and restore?

If you used the Android Backup Service to backup your device, it can restore some settings and data for you automatically after you’ve reset your device. It can backup and restore:

  • Google Calendar settings
  • Stored Wi-Fi networks and passwords
  • Wallpapers
  • Gmail settings
  • Apps you’ve installed via Google Play and backed up on the Play Store app
  • Display brightness and sleep settings
  • Language and input settings
  • Date and time
  • Some third-party app settings and data

The reason we’ve said 'some' third party apps is because the Android Backup Service can only back up apps that actually use it, and it’s up to the app developer(s) whether a particular app uses it and, if it does, what settings and data are actually backed up.

When it comes to backing up important data, documents, files or settings it’s always a good idea to assume the worst and ensure you have a backup copy of absolutely everything. Don’t assume that your favorite app uses the Backup Service and then discover the hard way that it doesn’t!

Have you had happy or unhappy factory reset issues? Does it cure all known ills, or did you find problems started to come back again? Let us know in the comments!


Write new comment:
  • 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

  • my tablet has from top a home/back button, volume up, volume dwn and power button. i tried all possible ways to get that menu. can anybody pls help me? model .. dixon md9901

  • Hello. I see all the directions I even read all the directions to factory reset my Android but, I am still really leary to reset it. Is it a trust issue? Haha

  • thank u brother.........

  • Mike Aug 29, 2015 Link to comment

    Is this something you would recommend to do once in awhile, just to clear the bugs out?

  • With the S6/edge it's volume UP. Home, Power buttons that must be pressed simultaneously for recovery mode if I'm not mistaken. Volume down , home, power is for download mode to root.

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