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How to Hard Reset Android Phones & Tablets, Restore to Factory Specs

Android Help Topic

An ill-suited app installation has left your Android phone's performance sluggish.  You want to give your phone to a friend or family member.  You've decided to sell your old Android tablet to help pay for a new one.  These are just some of the reasons a user might want to perform a hard reset, restoring an Android device to a pristine, out-of-the-box state. 

The Android OS makes this process easy - and the steps to restore a device to factory specs are generally the same for every device that runs the operating system.

In this tutorial, we'll show you how to wipe your Android device's internal memory and restore it to factory specifications.


What is a Hard Reset?

Resetting an Android phone or tablet is like rebooting a computer; you turn it off, power it back on and start fresh with all apps closed.  But a hard reset - also known as a Factory Data Reset - clears the internal flash memory of a device, like formatting a hard drive in a computer and reinstalling the OS. The Android operating system and other applications already installed at the time of original purchase are all that remain.


How to Restore an Android Phone, Tablet to Factory Specs

Once you're ready to restore the device, press the Menu button below the screen while on the Home screen, then Settings, and select Privacy from the main menu.  You'll see the following screen:

Under the Personal Data heading near the bottom, you'll see an option to perform a Factory Data Reset.  Select this option.  If you're running Android 2.3 or above, you'll also see a check box to erase the SD card in addition to internal memory.  If you're keeping the phone, leave the box unchecked, but if you're selling or gifting the phone, you'll probably want to erase the card, too.

Select Reset Phone.  The phone will reset to factory specs (or to the latest installed OS update).

That's it! You're done.


Things to Consider Before a Hard Reset

Much of the data on an Android device is stored in the internal memory; but there's also data stored on the memory card inside the phone or tablet.  When you perform a hard reset of an Android device, data on the memory card is usually left as is (Android 2.3+ gives you the option to erase the SD card in addition to the internal memory during a hard reset); if you're passing the device along to someone else, you'll want to backup the data stored on the card to your PC and erase the card, too.  If there's interest in this topic, we'll create an additional tutorial discussing the finer points of securely erasing a memory card.

When you perform a hard reset, all data in internal memory will be deleted.  Be sure that anything you need to keep (photos, documents, video, music, etc.) is copied to your PC before performing the reset.  All settings, account configurations, apps, etc., will be cleared. 

If you sync contacts, email and calendar entries with Google or another service, all of this data should be stored with the service and can be added to your new Android device by setting it up with the same account settings.

Apps you've downloaded in the Android Market can be re-downloaded and installed by using the same Google account when you start using the new Android device.  If you've installed third-party apps on your Android hardware, you'll need to re-install these manually on the new phone or tablet.  Apps downloaded or purchased from the Amazon Appstore can be reinstalled using the Appstore app.


Final Thoughts

Because Android is a highly-configurable operating system, some Android phones like the HTC Thunderbolt have a slightly different reset procedure. If the procedure shown above does not work for your device, check the user manual for further instructions or email us for further assistance. Android 3.0, a version of the Android OS that runs on tablets, also has a slightly different reset procedure. 


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