Dealing with System Problems in Android: Safe Mode, Factory Reset & Restoring Backups

Joel Lee 29-01-2013

Updated by Riley J. Dennis on December 6th, 2016.


Android phones are extremely customizable and they give you the freedom to experiment to your heart’s desire. One inevitable side effect of this freedom, however, is that sometimes your phone encounters a problem or two. Maybe it won’t boot or maybe it randomly shuts down. Maybe you lost a critical file and now some features won’t work. Fortunately, there are ways around it.

Just as Android gives you freedom to explore, it gives you freedom to administrate. If you can get down and dirty with the internal workings of the operating system, you can perform some of these basic but useful actions that will help restore a malfunctioning device.

Not entirely recommended for Android newbies. Also, if you’re experience minor Android system problems, there are other less-drastic measures you can take. These should be last resort options.

Safe Mode

Due to Android being so customizable with ROMs, the instructions below may not work for you if you’re using a non-standard ROM. In that case, first check to see if your ROM has a Safe Mode; if it does, the forum thread for your ROM should have instructions on how to access it.

Most operating systems have something called a “safe mode” that lets you boot up the system without running any third-party software. In other words, only the software that is native to the system (basically, from a fresh install) will run. Windows has it. Android has it, too.


android system problems

Safe Mode is extremely useful for when your operating system is experiencing errors or problems such as a flickering phone display Is Your Phone Display Flickering? Try These 7 Fixes Noticed that your smartphone display has started flickering? Work through these steps to get everything back to normal. Read More  or a malfunctioning phone speakers Android Phone Speakers Not Working? Here Are 7 Fixes to Try Have your Android phone's speakers stopped working? Here are several potential fixes to get your sound working properly again. Read More  and you don’t know if it’s being caused by the system or an app. Safe Mode is also useful when your device has been affected by malfunctioning or malfeasant apps – just boot into Safe Mode and disable them before they have a chance to run.

Here’s how to boot into Safe Mode on Android (requires version 4.1+):

  • Hold down the Power button on the side of your phone until a popup appears.
  • On the menu that shows up, hold down the Power Off option until a popup appears.
  • Tap OK to reboot into Safe Mode.
  • You should now be in Safe Mode.

Here’s how to boot into Safe Mode on Android (versions 4.0 and older):

  • Turn off your device.
  • Hold down the Power button on the side of your phone.
  • When you see the boot screen logo, hold the Volume Up + Volume Down buttons together until it finishes booting.
  • You should now be in Safe Mode.

Factory Reset

Before you do a factory reset, make sure you back up all of your important data. Read the next section if you aren’t sure how to do that. In addition, using factory reset on non-standard ROMs may result in unexpected behavior. Please do this at your own risk.

If your device isn’t working as intended and you’ve tried everything you can to fix it but it still fails, the last resort option is to reset back to factory settings. Factory settings might sound intimidating, but it’s an old term that could be better replaced with “Manufacturer Reset” or something along those lines.

Basically, the factory reset just returns the state of your phone back to what it was the moment it left its original factory. You can see why it’s such a useful feature–especially since you can factory reset even when your phone won’t boot up normally.

android problems


If your phone turns on, you can complete a factory reset right from the operating system.

  • Navigate to the Android Settings.
  • Select Backup & Reset (if you’re on Android 2.3 or older, select Privacy).
  • Select Factory Data Reset.

If your phone won’t turn on, you’ll need to boot into Recovery Mode. Like Safe Mode, Recovery Mode is a special boot up sequence that lets you use the operating system for a different purpose. Specifically, Recovery Mode is used for device administration below the operating system level.

Unfortunately, the process of booting into Recovery Mode isn’t exactly standardized across devices. It depends on the manufacturer and the model of your device. Here are some combinations that might boot into Recovery Mode:

  • Hold the Volume Up + Volume Down + Power buttons.
  • Hold the Volume Up + Home + Power buttons.
  • Hold the Home + Power buttons.

If you can’t get it to work, the best solution is to consult your device’s manual for Recovery Mode instructions. If you don’t have your manual, you can always use a search engine and search for the model of your phone.


Once you’re in Recovery Mode, you’ll see a menu that resembles a command line interface. Using the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons, navigate to the option that says “Factory Reset.” Sometimes it will be called “Wipe Data.”

For more advice, check out our guide on whether Android data can be recovered afterwards Can Android Data Be Recovered After a Factory Reset? Can data be retrieved after factory reset on your phone? Here's how to perform a factory reset on Android, plus common answers. Read More .

Restoring Backups

Backups should be a crucial aspect of your regular tech-based routine. They are a lifesaver no matter who you are, especially when you use your phone for everything in your day-to-day life: text messages, apps, documents, contacts, and more.

If your phone ever fails on you, backups will be there to save the day… but only if you have backups in the first place. There are a couple ways you can go about this.

Root Options

Titanium Backup is the one that often pops up in backup-related discussions. It’s fast, it’s unobtrusive, it’s effective–everything you could ever need. For the advanced features, you’ll need Titanium Backup Pro. And this app does require root access.

You could also do a full Nandroid backup What Is A Nandroid Backup and How Exactly Does It Work? You need that backup at the ready. Read More , which backs up a perfect image of your device and can take you back to that image at any time, as long as you have a custom recovery What Is a Custom Android Recovery? Getting Started With TWRP What is a custom recovery on Android? What can you do with it? We explain Android recoveries and show you how to get TWRP. Read More .

Non-Root Options

There are other apps that can be a part of a multi-layered backup plan Here's A Free, Multi-Layered Plan To Back Up A Non-Rooted Android Even with a non-rooted Android device, you can have a solid backup plan – and it doesn't have to cost you a dime! Read More for your Android device if you haven’t rooted your phone.

The actual process for backing up and restoring backups is dependent on the app you use, but the general idea is the same. The app will have an action to backup different parts of your phone (data, apps, settings, etc.) and that info will be stored on your phone’s SD card. That same app can read those backups and restore them if you need to.

If you do a factory reset, you have nothing to worry about here. The factory reset doesn’t touch the SD card, so you should be able to restore your backups without a problem.

How Do You Protect Your Device?

Using these three methods, you can almost always save your Android device from near doom. If you’re having troubles, try troubleshooting with Safe Mode. If that doesn’t work, you can always reset the device back to a factory state, and if you utilize backups, you won’t lose much–if anything–in the process.

If you do the above three and your device still doesn’t work, then most likely you’re experiencing a hardware issue. In that case, there’s very little you can do unless you’re an advanced Android user and you may need to buy a replacement.

Have you noticed other flaws with your Android device 6 Terrible Android Flaws That Desperately Need to Be Addressed Android has come a long way since its inception, but it still has frustrating aspects. Here are six Android annoyances. Read More ?

Related topics: Android, Data Backup.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Wea
    April 11, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Hi. I need help on my samsung phone. I just did a factory reset and after the phone booted up the screen only shows "install program". It has been days since this error message started and it never came back on again.

  2. John
    January 15, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    And the phone is itel A15

  3. John
    January 15, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    When I factory reset my phone the password still comes again I gave tried that service times but still the password will still show

  4. Abu omayer
    November 14, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Hi there,
    I have htc one m8. I want to factory reset the phone but none of the process are working . I have tried it from settings menu and also from recovey menu. Can anyone halep me . Pls pls.

  5. JL boy
    October 26, 2018 at 4:57 am

    when i select recovery system it just turned off then nothing happens.. how do i reset this my|Phone myA10 really ??

  6. ardy
    April 15, 2018 at 7:50 am

    HELP please.!

    I am definitely stressed right now don't even know how can I solve my own problem with my own phone j100ml samsung my own device is keeps restarting and restarting again and again I tried searching a lot with hard reset/factory data reset but unfortunately won't give me the help I deserve through (Volume Up button+home button+Power Button) it doesn't work the factory data reset the logo won't appear its only a matter of opening my Phone and such nothing further.! after that its keeps restarting again and again I think the only thing can solve my own issue is I am trying with RE-Program issue please help me I am begging all of you

    thanks please reply with my post so I can simply make a move about my own issue.thanks in regards hopefully.!

  7. kerubo michelle
    March 15, 2018 at 10:59 am

    my infix hot s model x 521 refuses to log into the playstore after factory reset and is also very slow onthe network why

  8. Morgan Skinner
    February 13, 2017 at 2:14 am

    Android tablet pc mid N98
    Turns on until it gets to the
    Tablet pc
    Keep moving forward
    And that is were it stays
    What can I do to fix it

  9. Tanzil
    January 1, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Hi plz help me.. I have install an app Vipr VPN..
    Then when i restart my phone after that it showing "unfortunately vipr vpn had stopped.".. and then it restarting automatically... I don't get more time for doing something.. in this short time i uninstalled this app but after some second it restarting automatically and this app install automatically after restart. I try to uninstall by king root app but the same problem. This time not working safe mod restart.

    Plz help me ..... What can i do.... Heard reset not working... Plz help me.....

    • Abu omayer
      November 14, 2018 at 10:51 am

      The same problem I have . Do you find the fix.

  10. Isa
    November 15, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Thank You So Much It Worked! Godspeed

  11. Aharon
    November 8, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Good article. I backed up everything to the mounted SD card and the performed a factory reset. But now the phone refuses to read the card and says I have to format (and thereby erase) it first. Help!

  12. Shiva
    November 3, 2016 at 6:55 am

    restore the mobile for week/once is any problem occurs

  13. Mahinder
    October 19, 2016 at 5:26 am

    Sir my yu yu4711 is not start after system update please help me

  14. Takezako
    August 11, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    my prestigio phone wont turn on, it stuck on the brand logo. can you help me? please

  15. Jake B
    July 8, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Please help me I have a htc disire 320. I rooted the phone and I deleted google play services and others but I forgot to install them back in when I did a factory reset. The phone when I start up goes to home page but nothing on it. Because Google play services is needed to set up the phone. I can still get into recovery.

  16. xyzkayla
    July 2, 2016 at 2:32 am

    i reset my tab but the battery went dead half way, after charging it, it wouldn't turn back on, any suggestions please?...

  17. Sir_jokes
    June 12, 2016 at 11:53 am

    i reset my phone but . . no files were erased. . what do i do

  18. siddharth pachauri
    June 2, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    hi i siddharth and my phone not factory resetting . whenevr i am factroy resetting it turns of then on without reset.i may have lost my recovery bcoz its not opeaning now so neither cant i hard reset it ..what to do now

  19. zakiuddin rupu
    May 24, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    how to recover my system recovery mood

  20. dd
    May 23, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    my phone doesn't want to reset.
    he dont lissin to any of these things and just start like there is noting happening

  21. Damian Pore
    February 25, 2015 at 8:40 am

    I have lost NETWORK MODE my phone and my friend told me there's is something wrong. What should i do to recover the NETWORK MODE?

  22. ronald manaog
    January 21, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Once i navigate volume up and power button.. it always in choose boot mode..
    I thought that this article will help me but it dosent.. :(

  23. Anindya Sur
    February 1, 2013 at 2:44 am

    My new android was disconnected from network and then my daughter messed up with pattern locking. Now it asks for my google account id and password; but as the device is disconnected, it refuses to accept them. What are the best option to bring my device to working condition?

  24. Ashok Kumar
    January 30, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    This really good information especially for those who own low cost android phones, these phones can become real pain for owners.

  25. Nevzat Akkaya
    January 30, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Hmm, I've just tried it on my CM 10.1 nightly, it seems I can't see the option to boot into Safe Mode by holding down the Power Off option :(

    • Art Ramirez
      January 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

      If you don't get the option to reboot into safe mode by pressing on the power off option, press and hold on the reboot option. That's how it works on my Incredible running CyanogenMod 10.1-based ROM. Instead of power off, once the menu pops up I press n hold on reboot option then the safe mode popup comes up.

      • Nevzat Akkaya
        January 30, 2013 at 9:14 am

        That did the trick. Many thanks!
        Author, please update the article so that everyone knows the alternative.

  26. Nevzat Akkaya
    January 30, 2013 at 6:50 am

    I was looking for a way to boot to safe mode for a long time. Many thanks for this, I think this option should be directly visible on Power Off menu.