How To Temporarily Reset Your Phone & Clear The SD Card [Android]

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android sd card   How To Temporarily Reset Your Phone & Clear The SD Card [Android]Recently, I started a new job where I was offered a Blackberry Bold. Being a tech geek that loves playing with new gadgets, this was a pretty cool turn of events. However, it is also bittersweet, because I am absolutely in love with my Droid. In my opinion, no matter what other mobile phone I ever use, the Android will always be king. I love the ability to quickly multitask with different apps, click on an address or phone number from a website, instantly dial or navigate, and so many other features too numerous to mention.

With that said, my kids both want a smartphone, and by offering my Droid to my daughter, I can avoid having to purchase a new phone and add a new data plan. I realized that many families may be in similar situations – where phones may change hands but never actually leave the house.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to save your entire phone setup – including the OS settings, applications and data – to a storage area, and then how to completely reset the phone to factory settings and clear the SD card. In the future, if the phone is ever yours again, you can simply restore from backup and it’s like the phone was never gone.

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Reset Your Android Like New Again

It is surprisingly easy to reset your Android phone. What you really have to worry about is making sure you don’t lose anything important that you might have saved on your phone at some point – and so that you always have the ability to reclaim the phone as your own again.

In the following case, I am running a Motorola Droid with the CyanogenMod ROM. The instructions below are nearly identical for your standard ROM.

Back Up Your Phone Settings & All Data

The first thing you’ll want to do is install ROM Manager off the Android Market and do a full backup of your current ROM.

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Once you click “Backup Current ROM“, it’ll reboot your phone and then take a full backup of your apps, settings and OS configuration to your SD card. It can take a while so make sure your phone is plugged in. When it’s done, the next thing you’ll want to do is move that backup file (along with all of your photos, music and other data) onto your computer or some other external storage device.

To do this, plug your phone into your computer, pull down the top menu and click the USB status. On the next screen, click on “Turn on USB Storage“. This will mount your phone as a drive in File Explorer.

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It’s as simple as highlighting all of the files in that drive, and copying them to a backup location on your computer or external hard drive.

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In my case, the entire backup was about 2.35 GB and took about 2 or 3 minutes. Just let the transfer do its thing, and when you’re done, your Android phone settings are now completely backed up and ready for use at some future date.

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Restoring Your Android To Factory Settings

Now that you’ve backed everything up, it’s time to wipe out everything and transform the phone back in time to the first day you bought it. Well, I guess in my case that actually means back to the first day I installed the CyanogenMod ROM, but you get my point.

The process to do this is ridiculously easy (which is why it’s so important to back up everything first). Go into the settings menu and click on “Privacy“.

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On the next screen, and click on “Factory data reset“.

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Read the warning screen carefully, because trust me, they are not kidding. Everything gets wiped. That’s Everything with a capital E.

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Upon reboot, you’ll need to go through the initial configuration steps that you did when you first bought your phone – including either logging into or creating a Google Account. Then the standard home screen will appear.

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Just to make sure everything is fresh and new on the SD card, it doesn’t hurt to go into settings and click on the SD card & phone storage settings menu. In here, unmount the SD card and then click on “Format SD card“.

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Now, you’ve completely and thoroughly wiped out everything on the phone and it is ready for the next user. It is currently using the same phone number and cellular account that I had previously. If you’re switching accounts, then you’ll want to take your SIM card out and insert the SIM card for the new user.

Have you ever traded your Android phone with family members or friends? How did you reset your Android? Did you use the same procedure as described here, or did you do anything different? Do you have any other preferences for taking a ROM backup? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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12 Comments - Write a Comment


Tech Dave

Could you transfer all that data to a new phone? Or is it the ROM spacific to a phone?
Just thinking that could be a great upgrade tool when you get the newest shine android phone.



I would like to know that too if there is any solution if you switch ROM on your phone
A way tha backs up all your apps and preferences

Ryan Dube

Not sure what you mean by switching ROM – do you been switching phones? (see answer above)



Maybe you should have mentioned in the title or at least the first few paragraphs that the phone being backed up is rooted. I have nothing against rooting for the purpose of having a backup, but this is information that would be useful to the average user reading this article.

Ryan Dube

You’re probably right – I do tend to take the fact that the phone is rooted for granted. So, good point.


Thanks for the advice, I found it very informative. May it be pertinentthough to point out that the data on the SD card is not completely wiped with a format. A lot of the data could be retrieved, so if you are passing on to a 3 rd party it would be wise to be mote thorough with the SD card cleaning (ie wipe free space from a computer) Thanks again.



Although I’ve heard the term ‘rooted’ before, what exactly does that mean regarding cell phones?

Ryan Dube

Hi Apengineer. It is about the same as what you might be accustomed to in terms of having “admin rights” on a pc – giving you access to the system files and folders. Or “root access” on a Linux meachine, giving you admin access to the root folder. In the case of Linux, when you are “rooted”, you’ve opened up read/write access for apps to access the root directory (system) of your phone. This increases the potential functionality of apps, but as you can imagine it also increases the possibility of malicious apps doing a number to your phone.


It would be nice to know what the procedure is for re-loading what was saved off to a computer. There’s no explanation on how to do that, just how to back it up. I presume you’d have to load ROM Manager again from the market and then select Restore from Backup, after inserting a card with the backup files copied to it from the computer. Correct, or did I miss anything?



thx lol it really helped……..


Ryan Dube

Dave – as far as I understand it’s specific to the phone that you took the backup on. I don’t believe it will work properly if you try to reload it onto a different phone. I use this mostly as a backup, so if I fry my operating system messing around with testing apps, I can just reload the backup. I’ve never tried reloading it onto a newer phone – so I can’t say for certain either way. Maybe someone out there may know – or we could ask the question on MUO Answers!

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