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

Ryan Dube 21-09-2011

how to reset androidRecently, 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.

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.


how to reset android

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.

factory reset android


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.

factory reset android

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.

factory reset android


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“.

reset android to factory settings

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


reset android to factory settings

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

reset android to factory settings

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.

How To Temporarily Reset Your Phone & Clear The SD Card [Android] refresh908

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“.

how to reset android

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.

Related topics: Data Backup, Memory Card, Restore Data.

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

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mlovado
    November 16, 2011 at 5:12 am

    thx lol it really helped........

  2. Apengineer
    September 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm

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

    • Ryan Dube
      October 1, 2011 at 3:49 am

      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.

      • Apengineer
        November 15, 2011 at 7:03 pm

        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?

  3. Anonymous
    September 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    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
      September 24, 2011 at 2:51 am

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

      • Boltobinson-trash
        September 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm

        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.

  4. Anonymous
    September 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    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
      September 23, 2011 at 1:07 am

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

  5. Tech Dave
    September 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    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.