As Android phones continue to grow in popularity, so does the concern about data security. Whether you are selling an Android phone, donating one to a charity or upgrading to a brand new phone, it's always a good idea to erase all of your personal data before making the exchange. Moreover, with digital identity theft on the rise, it's always a good idea to purge the information from any electronic device, including a cell phone, before you give it up. Fortunately for Android users, the process of erasing the data from your phone is a rather straightforward and simplified procedure.
Beginning the Process
The first step is to load the Settings application through your phone. From here, highlight the "Personal" tab and tap the "Backup & Reset" option. Next, tap the "Factory data reset" option. Note that this will erase all of the data on your phone, including system settings, images, downloading software, music and more, so make sure to proceed only when ready. Your Android device will also display a warning to the same effect.
Completing the Process
After proceeding past the warning screen, the final step is to scroll down all the way down to the bottom of the screen and tap the "Reset phone" option. This will immediately initiate the deletion process, and there is no way to halt the operation once it begins.
The entire process should take no more than a few minutes, depending on how much data resides on the phone's internal storage to begin with, and the Android device will shut down immediately after the process is complete. This effectively restores the phone to its factory settings while eliminating all of your personal information and files that are contained within the internal storage.
While the above process is a foolproof method of erasing your personal data from an Android phone, there are also a number of steps you can take to further safeguard your information from prying eyes.
First, make sure to remove the SIM card from your Android phone before relinquishing it to the hands of another party. The SIM card facilitates access to a specific cellular network, and, unless you are switching carriers, you'll want to use the SIM card in the new phone. Most Android SIM cards can be found directly underneath the removable back panel. If the Android device does not have a removable back panel, locate the SIM card slot on the edge of the phone and remove the card from there.
If your phone utilizes an SD card for external storage, make sure to remove this as well. The above process of erasing your phone will not remove any files from the SD card. If you absolutely have to include this with the phone, make sure to erase the data in a separate formatting process.
Depending on how sensitive the data is, you may want to consider encrypting your data before deleting it. The encryption process, which needs to be enabled manually, can be started at any time. Using Android's encryption will require the use of a PIN every time you boot your phone, but the added security may be worth it.
How to Erase All the Data From Your Android Phone
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