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How to Reset Your Android Phone and What to Expect

Whether you want to trade your Android phone in, give it away to a friend or just get a completely fresh start, you'll need to perform a factory reset. Here's how to reset your phone, with or without leaving your data intact.

Factory Reset (Wipe Your Data)

If you want to give your phone to someone else, you need to make sure that all of your data and settings are deleted from your phone. Before you perform the reset, make sure your phone is encrypted because otherwise a tech savvy person will be able to recover your old files.

To encrypt your phone:

1. Navigate to Security under the settings menu.

2. Tap Encrypt phone if the menu does not already say "Encrypted." If it does, your phone is already encrypted and you can skip the remaining steps.

3. Follow the instructions which may involve setting up a new password, depending on your phone. The process can take as long as an hour or more so prepare to walk away from the phone.

There's no need to encrypt your microSD card. If you have one installed, just remove it before giving the phone away.

To perform the reset:

1. Navigate to Backup & reset under Settings.

2. Tap Factory data reset.

3. Tap the Rest Phone button.

4. Enter your security credentials (lock pattern / password) if prompted.

5. Tap Erase Everything to confirm.

Reset Without Deleting Your Data

If you just want to return your phone to its default state without purging your contacts, account information, apps or data, you can do that on certain phones, including late-model Samsungs, but not on stock Android handsets like the Google Nexus 6. On Samsung phones:

1. Navigate to Backup and reset under Settings.

2. Select Reset settings.

3. Tap the Reset settings button and confirm.

Soft Reset Your Phone

If your phone freezes or starts acting very strangely or slow (ex: ignoring touch input), the first thing you should try is a soft reset, otherwise known as turning the phone off and on again. You have a few options for resetting an Android phone.

  • Hold the power button down until you see the boot menu then hit Power off.

After any of these methods, wait 10 to 30 seconds and power the phone on again.

Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.