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FAQ: Factory Resetting Your Device

reset button

If you’ve ever considered selling your device or had problems with your phone lagging, then you’ve probably had someone tell you that you need to do a factory reset. It sounds big and scary, but sometimes it’s necessary (and is, in fact, the best solution). However, before you do that, there are some things to consider.

What is a factory reset?

First off, you need to understand what a factory reset is before you can decide if it’s the right course of action. A factory reset completely wipes the phone and sets it back exactly to how it was when you first pulled it out of the box all those months ago. It’s important to note that a factory reset will delete all photos, contacts and data and it is not recoverable. It’s just gone, so it is not something to do lightly.

When do I need to factory reset?

There are any numbers of reasons that you might need to do a factory reset, but the most common reasons are:

  • The phone is slow or acting oddly
  • You are planning on selling the device
  • You are recycling the device

Note that if the device is slow, then while a factory reset will fix the problem, it might not be the best option. Instead, try deleting some apps, freeing up space or even just restarting the phone to clear out some temporary files and clear up memory.

How do I backup my contacts/pictures/data?

Because doing a factory reset will wipe everything from the phone, its imperative to first make sure that all of your important files and information is backed up somewhere. Most modern phones running Lollipop automatically save contacts to your Google account, so when you sign in to Google, your contacts should automatically download.

As far as texts, pictures and call history there are any number of ways to back them up including using a cloud service of some sort, utilizing the backup features in some antivirus apps like TrustGo, Avast or Lookout or even hooking the phone to a laptop and backing up the old fashioned way. Whatever your method, I might recommend saving really important information in more than one place just in case. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

How do I factory reset my phone?

Once you’ve backed up everything that you want to save, then you’ll want to actually do the reset. Bear in mind that you’ll want to do this when you have some time as you’ll have to go through and change all of your settings again and possibly download (or deactivate) apps.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Backup & Reset or, on older devices, it might be under Security
  3. Scroll down to Factory Reset and tap it.
  4. You’ll be given a warning that it cannot be undone. Click through it
  5. Leave the phone alone until it’s completely finished resetting and rebooting.
  6. Restore contacts and other information
  7. Set up your phone however you like

Depending on the device, this may take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.

It’s worth noting that if you’re resetting the device in preparation for selling the phone, then there are some extra steps you’ll need to complete before resetting the device. You’ll want to be sure to wipe all personal information but know that resetting the phone might not be enough by itself. Be sure to do your research first!

Do you have any other questions about resetting the device? Share with me in the comments!