Android Security

Can Android Data Be Recovered After a Factory Reset?

Georgina Torbet Updated 27-12-2019

If you ever have serious problems with your Android device, or if you plan to sell it, you might need to perform a factory reset.

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Here, we’ll teach you how to perform a factory reset on Android. We’ll also discuss how data can be recovered after a factory reset.

What Is a Factory Reset?

Android looking at phone

A factory reset is a process you perform on a device, such as a phone or tablet. It deletes all your personal data stored on the device and returns it original state it was in when it left the factory—hence the “factory” reset name.

You may also see a factory reset called “master reset” or “system restore.” Sometimes, people will refer colloquially to “wiping” a device, which usually means a factory reset.

Why Perform a Factory Reset?

There are a number of reasons you might want to perform a factory reset on your Android device. First, if you want to sell your device, you don’t want the buyer to have any access to your data. So you should always perform a factory reset before passing your device onto someone else.

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Second, perhaps you’ve had your device for a while and it’s full of apps you don’t want. Since it’s performing slowly, performing a factory reset will reset everything back to a clean state and should make your device run faster. From there, you can reinstall only the apps you need.

Finally, if your device has run into some sort of software problem that you can’t fix, performing a factory reset will usually resolve the issue.

How to Factory Reset Your Android Device

Android comes with an option for performing a factory reset in its settings, so it’s easy to perform a factory reset.

Before you perform a reset, make sure that you have backed up all the important data on your Android device How to Back Up Your Android Device Properly Here's how to completely back up your Android device by protecting your photos, SMS, contacts, and everything else. Read More . You may also want to back up app settings, a list of your favorite apps, and media like photos, videos, and music.

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Here’s how to perform a factory reset on Android:

  1. Go to Settings in your Android device, which you’ll find in the app drawer.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the menu and select System.
  3. Here, you’ll see a number of settings and an option to show more in the Advanced subheading. Tap on Advanced.
  4. Now, select Reset options.
  5. In this menu, you’ll see an option labeled Erase all data (factory reset). This is the option you want, so tap it.
  6. You’ll see a confirmation page titled Erase all data (factory reset). This page warns you that going ahead will erase data from your device such as your Google account, system and app settings, downloaded apps, music, photos, and other user data.
    1. The screen also indicates which accounts you’re signed into on the device. This includes Google accounts as well as others like Telegram, Microsoft, and WhatsApp.
  7. If you’re sure that you want to perform the reset, hit the Delete all data button at the bottom of this page.
  8. The device will ask you to enter your PIN or password. Once you’ve done this, tap Next.
  9. To confirm the deletion, tap Delete all.
  10. This begins the factory reset process. Once your device has been reset, you can set it up as if it was a new device.

Can Data Be Recovered After a Factory Reset?

People often think that once they perform a factory reset, then their data is completely removed from the device and is no longer accessible. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

It is possible to recover data after a factory reset. This can be beneficial if you’ve accidentally performed a reset and you want your data back. But it can be a problem if you performed the reset in order to protect your data.

Android Comes With Build-In Encryption to Protect Your Data

Years ago, Android devices were not encrypted by default. This meant that even after performing a factory reset, some data was still accessible on the device’s internal storage.

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There are tools available that could connect to an already-reset device and extract deleted files, which could include personal data like contacts, texts, or photos. To protect your data, you needed to encrypt your device before factory resetting it.

However, since Android 6 Marshmallow, Android devices ship encrypted by default. This means that you don’t have to worry about people accessing your deleted data using forensic tools. Even if tools are able to extract deleted files from your device, these files are encrypted, so they can’t be read by anyone else. This is one of the many reasons having an encrypted smartphone is a good idea 7 Reasons Why You Should Encrypt Your Smartphone Data Are you encrypting your device? All major smartphone operating systems offer device encryption, but should you use it? Here's why smartphone encryption is worthwhile, and won't affect the way you use your smartphone. Read More .

Cloud Backups Are Still Vulnerable

Can Android Data Be Recovered After a Factory Reset? download upload folder 670x335
Image Credit: Faithie/Depositphotos

However, encryption doesn’t mean that your data is entirely gone. Most services now have some kind of cloud backup, where you user data is stored online. Your Google account, for example, may have synced data from your Android device.

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This data can include app data, calendar, browser data (if you use Chrome), contacts, documents and other files stored in Google Drive or Docs, and your Gmail email data. If you need to restore this data, you can do so after a reset during the setup process.

This means that your data may still be vulnerable due to insecurities in cloud backups Yes, Ransomware Can Encrypt Your Cloud Storage Several ransomware variants not only attack your main hard drive, but other system drives -- including cloud storage! The time has come to consider how you backup your files and where to keep them. Read More . To destroy your data completely, you’ll need to close all your accounts that use cloud backups.

How to Destroy Data on Your Android Device

If you want make certain that your data is not accessible after a factory reset, there are tools available that can overwrite the data on your device with garbage data. This ensures that your personal files are completely inaccessible. To do this, you can use an app such as Shreddit. This app will erase data from both internal and external storage on your device.

To use an erasing app, start by ensuring your device is encrypted. Download and run the shedding app, then perform a factory reset. This will completely wipe all data from your device. This is the best method if you plan to sell your device.

Perform a Factory Reset on Your Android Device

Using these steps, you can perform a factory reset on your Android device to delete the data from it. This can help to make your device run faster or deal with any nagging software problems. However, resetting your device will not necessarily delete all of your personal data.

If you plan to sell your device, you should take extra steps to protect your data before passing it on to someone else. Apps like Shreddit can destroy your data before you perform the reset to make sure no one can recover it.

A factory reset can be a useful way to deal with software problems on your Android device. But there are other methods to address problems too. For example, see our advice on ways to fix your Android phone or tablet if it won’t turn on Your Android Phone or Tablet Won't Turn On? 6 Ways to Fix Your phone won't turn on? Don't despair! Follow our proven tips and you just might get your Android device back in action. Read More .

Related topics: Android Tips, Data Recovery, Encryption, Smartphone Security.

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

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  1. ClockworkOrange87
    November 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Hi

    I forgot to encrypt my data before I did a factory reset. Can I just overwrite the old data with junk data even though I didn't encrypt my phone before I did the factory reset?

  2. Badaboo
    November 13, 2016 at 7:04 am

    According to the article:
    The iOS operating system on Apple iPhones and iPads has to deal with a similar problem. To ensure a user’s data can be quickly and completely wiped when the device is factory reset, it has a trick up its sleeve. All data on the device is encrypted by default using the hardware encryption feature. When you choose to set up encryption, the device is protected with your own encryption key. Even if you never set up encryption, the files are stored on the device in encrypted form so any bits of deleted files appear as random gibberish on the device’s storage after it’s reset. The data can’t be recovered.
    So i have a question. If we set a passcode and then we disable it. The data that we store after disabling the passcode,if we use brute force to decrypt it will we require the disabled passcode or no

  3. h191887
    October 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I deleted my data and encrypted my phone followed by factory reset. can I recover my deleted data?

  4. h191887
    October 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I deleted my data, and encypted my phone followed by factory reset. can I recover my data?

  5. h191887
    October 4, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    I deleted some data then I encrypted my phone followed factory reset. can I recover my deleted data?

  6. Rebecca
    June 13, 2016 at 2:02 am

    I already did the factory reset without encrypting. Can I still encrypt those files? What can I do?

  7. abi
    March 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    if any one trying to use recovery in my mobile what message they will get if I already encrypt and reset my android phone.

  8. RAMI
    February 27, 2016 at 5:12 am

    CAN WE MAKE THE SAME STEPS ON PC AS WELL..

    TO PREVENT DELETED FILES FROM RECOVERING ..

  9. RAMI
    February 27, 2016 at 5:09 am

    THANKS

  10. Jay Ell
    November 24, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    what happens if you reset before encryption - encryption wouldn't help in that case, correct? what are the options at that point?

    • Faizan
      December 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Then you can use Avast Anti-theft. It'll help

    • FA
      July 26, 2016 at 4:26 am

      If you encrypt the phone at any given time, the entire back end data gets encrypted as well. Therefore, if it is reset, those data sets would be wiped off completely.

  11. Guillermo
    September 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Does it work even if you previously did a factory reset on the phone?

  12. Edmarjohn S
    September 2, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    nice heads-up, especially with the leaked photos news this could really help to be more secure

  13. John Wayne
    September 2, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Any solutions for iOS devices?

    • Mark P
      September 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      The iOS operating system on Apple iPhones and iPads has to deal with a similar problem. To ensure a user’s data can be quickly and completely wiped when the device is factory reset, it has a trick up its sleeve. All data on the device is encrypted by default using the hardware encryption feature. When you choose to set up encryption, the device is protected with your own encryption key. Even if you never set up encryption, the files are stored on the device in encrypted form so any bits of deleted files appear as random gibberish on the device’s storage after it’s reset. The data can’t be recovered.

      Taken directly from the article.