Thinking about hard resetting your Android smartphone or other Android device? This guide provides answers to some commonly asked questions about factory data resets, what they are, what they do, and how to prepare your phone before performing a factory reset.
What is a Factory Data Reset?
A factory data reset or factory reset is a type of hard reset which removes information from a device.
What is a Hard Reset?
A hard reset is a tool used to remove, erase, or delete all user data from a cell phone. It removes all imported, installed, or added information and puts the phone back to its factory default settings.
There are many types of resets available for smartphones some of which erase information from the cell phone such as the Hard Reset, Factory Data Reset, Master Resets, etc. while other resets such as a Soft Reset, or a Second Level Reset, etc. do not effect or erase data from the device. You can read more about other types of resets for cell phones at Mobile Phone Resets.
If I do a factory reset will it erase my SD card?
This is one of the most frequently asked question concerning factory data resets. By default a hard reset WILL NOT erase or remove the information saved on your external memory card. It is important to know however that when performing a hard reset, depending on the smartphone you are using, there may be an option to format the SD card which WILL erase the data saved on your devices external storage. This option, when available, is typically not selected by default but when available and you do not want to erase your memory card during the reset make sure that the option to do so is not selected. If you don’t see this option then your SD card will not be touched by the factory reset.
As an extra precaution however, you can always properly remove the SD card from the device, and then perform the hard reset. With the memory card removed from the phone during the hard reset there will be no chance of losing any data.
What gets deleted during a hard reset?
All user data and custom settings will get erased from the phone after performing a factory reset. Basically everything added to the phones internal storage that did not originally come preinstalled on the phone will be deleted and wiped clean.
If I do a factory reset will I lose my pictures?
Yes, any and all pictures that you have taken with your camera or any images saved on the phones storage will be erased after performing a hard reset. So make sure to save your pictures to a computer or a memory card before resetting your smartphone or Android device. If you have pictures that you need to backup to a memory card and would like some assistance with the backup process then How to Save Pictures to a Memory Card from an Android Smartphone should help walk you through it.
If I do a hard reset will I lose my text messages?
Yes, all text message threads, both sent and received will be erased when performing a hard reset. Messages can be difficult to backup by default. If you have important text messages on your phone that you need to save before performing a reset then check out How to backup and save text messages on an Android phone for some suggestions.
If I perform a hard reset will I lose my music?
Yes, any music that you have downloaded to your phones storage or have uploaded from a computer will be erased from the phones internal storage. Make sure to copy any important music or audio files to a computer or memory card before performing a reset.
If I do a factory reset will I lose my contacts?
Yes… any contacts saved to the phone will be erased. Luckily Android smartphones create a backup contact list to the primary Gmail account associated with the phone and contacts are often automatically backed up online by default. I highly suggest that you save a copy of your contacts to a memory card as well though so that you have a hard copy of your address book should you need to recover them for any reason. If you would like an example of how you may create a backup of your contacts to a memory card you can click HERE.
If I do a factory reset will I lose my apps?
Yes and No.
Any applications that came preinstalled on your Android and that came with your phone originally will remain on your smartphone as clean and fresh installs with their default settings.
So for example: Android phones come with a Camera application by default. After performing a hard reset on the device the phone is still going to have a Camera application but any customization such as custom settings to the camera will be lost. So if you had turned on the Flash to be used for every picture taken, or had adjusted the default resolution, or changed the size that you wanted your pictures saved as, or changed the save location of your media taken with the camera, or the cameras zoom settings, or focus, etc. these settings will all be reset to default.
Any third party applications that did not originally come on the device, such as applications from the Android Play Store (formerly the Android Marketplace) will be removed from the phones storage.
Will I lose app data such as points or levels from a game if I perform a hard reset?
If information such as points, coins, unlocked levels, unlocked characters, rewards, tokens, etc are saved to your phones internal storage then a factory reset will cause that data to be lost. It depends on how the application was written when it was developed.
If the application saves your app data online or onto your memory card (external storage) as opposed to the phones internal storage then your apps information and data will be safe. If this is the case you WILL have to re-download the application onto your phone after the reset but once its downloaded apps will often search an existing memory card for preexisting information and restore it to the app automatically. If the information was stored online then you may have to log onto an account to regain access to the apps information but it should restore as well.
It all depends on the application in question and how well it was written. If you are concerned about losing data for an app then before hard resetting your device you should contact the app developer directly to ask about whether or not you need to backup the information, if so, how to backup the information and most importantly how to restore the information after the reset.
Will a hard reset affect the software?
Although a factory reset will put the phones settings back to their factory default it will not technically put the phones software back to the original software that it was released with. The software and OS (Operating System) will not be directly affected by a hard reset.
Will I have to update my phone again if I perform a Factory Data Reset?
No, the software on your Android device will remain the same and will be same Android version that it was before the reset. A hard reset will not touch the OS or its current version of Android.
So for example: If you purchased a phone that originally operated on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and you updated your phone to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and then upgraded it again to the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and then needed to perform a hard reset. After performing the reset the phone would still be running on the latest version of software; in this case it would continue running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and would not go back to any of its earlier versions of software.
If I do a factory reset will it unroot my phone?
No it will not unroot or remove any custom ROM or software changes made to the phone.
If you install a custom OS and want to remove it from the phone you will have to reinstall another custom OS, which may include the original Operating System. A hard reset will not remove a custom OS and will not change the device back to the originally installed software.
If an error occurs during the rooting or flashing process and your Android device begins to have issues or is not functioning correctly then a hard reset will not typically solve that problem either. You can however often fix such issues by re-attempting what you were trying to do originally.
For example: If you were unlocking the bootloader on your phone and your phone stopped powering on correctly a hard reset probably won’t help your phone turn on properly again. You might be able to fix it by re-locking and then if you choose, re-unlocking the bootloader again.
So USE CAUTION when changing the software on your Android device. A hard reset isn’t always a fix all solution in those types of circumstances.
Will a hard reset remove my phones unlock pattern?
Yes, your phone will be in like new condition and you will have to setup the security features on your phone once again. Including the creation of a new unlock pattern.
If I reset my phone will it remove a virus?
Although viruses are not too common on the Android OS yet, knowing that a factory data reset will erase any bugs, glitches, or viruses is a good thing to know.
Since a hard reset erases everything added to the device… Yes, factory resetting your Android is one of the best ways to get rid of a virus or an unwanted app and can wipe out most types of undesirable software or content that has found its way onto your cell phone.
If I factory reset will I lose my service?
Nope, no service issues should occur when doing a factory reset. In fact some service issues can even be fixed by performing a hard reset.
Will I lose my wireless plan?
Nope, your plan and all of that type of information is stored by your wireless service provider and it doesn’t reside on your phone so you don’t need to worry and a hard reset will not affect your wireless plan or wireless contract.
Will a hard reset relock an unlocked cell phone?
If you’re Android has been unlocked so that it can connect to and use the service of a different wireless carrier than it was originally intended for then a factory data reset should not re-lock the phone.
So for example: If you have an AT&T Android cell phone that had been unlocked so that it could be used on another GSM wireless network, let’s say for this example T-Mobile, then resetting the phone will not cause the phone to be strictly an AT&T device again, you will still be able to use the device with T-Mobile.
Note: if for some reason your cell phone doesn’t seem to want to connect to your wireless carrier like it did before performing a hard reset then reboot the phone and try again. If it still has issues then you can use the same unlock code that was used to unlock the phone originally.
Will a factory reset delete my voicemail messages?
Standard voicemails are stored by your wireless service provider and don’t get saved to your phones storage or its memory card. As such voicemails should not be affected when performing a hard reset on your cell phone.
If I reset my phone will I lose my number?
You will not lose your own phone number by performing a hard reset on your cell phone. As mentioned above, you may need to create a backup of your address book if you don’t want to lose other peoples numbers.
How can I backup my cell phone before doing a hard reset?
Since a hard reset erases everything from the phones storage you are probably going to want to backup much of your information before performing the reset. If you would like some tips to do this then I suggest reading How to Backup and Reset an Android smartphone for some additional information and suggestions.
How to perform a factory data reset
There are actually a few ways that you can perform a hard reset on an Android. One of the best methods is to perform a factory data reset through your phones settings.
This is going to depend upon what type of Android device you are trying to reset as well as what version of the Android OS it is currently running on.
Some of the more common methods of resetting an Android phone through its settings can be read by clicking HERE.
How to hard reset a frozen or unresponsive cell phone
If your cell phone is not responding properly and you cannot access the factory data reset option through the phones settings then there are still some options available. Before turning to a hard reset as the solution make sure that you try to restart the phone. If the phone will not restart or if a restart doesn’t resolve the problem then if possible try to remove the battery from the phone while the phone is powered on, wait 10 seconds and then reinsert the battery, turn on the phone and see if a literal battery pull or simulated battery pull has helped. If not then you can consider performing an Alternate Reset on your Android device.
How to hard reset a locked cell phone?
If your phone is locked and you cannot access the phones content much less its settings then performing a factory reset through the settings is not going to be an option. Most Android phones will allow you to perform a hard reset on the device by accessing an Android recovery menu and selecting a “Wipe data/factory reset” option. The methods used to access this Android Recover menu or Fastboot menu will depend on the make and model of Android device as well its current version of Android. For a list of common methods to access these options check out How to Hard Reset and Android phone.
Got a Question about hard resetting your Android?
Got a question about hard resetting an Android smartphone? Don’t see the answer above? Feel free to ask in the comment section below. If it’s a good question not only will I try to provide an answer ill even add it to the article.
Has this guide helped to answer your question?
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Thanks for reading, I hope you have a fantastic day.