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Factory reset settings
Factory reset settings (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Despite what the Indiana weather likes to believe, we're officially entering spring. With that comes pretty flowers, awful allergies, and the fun that is spring cleaning. And what better way to start than by cleaning off your phone?

Well, not physically cleaning your phone — although that isn't a bad idea — but giving your phone's software a good scrubbing. If you've had your phone for a while, you may notice it isn't running as smoothly as the day you purchased it.

Imagine your phone is like a desk: when you first get it, you may set a computer or other essential item on top. As time goes on, you start putting bills and other pieces of paper on top of the desk. Then the day comes when you really need that one specific invoice, but it's buried underneath notes, bills, and other junk.

The same happens on your phone: it's a blank slate when you first buy it, then you fill it up with apps, game saves and photos. A year later, it has to work extra hard to sift through the files to find what it needs to launch Instagram and show you adorable dog photos. This isn't the problem it was on older smartphones, but it can still happen to the heaviest of power users.

Be sure to back up your content before resetting your phone.

Be sure to back up your content before resetting your phone.

You can go through and individually delete apps and old photos, but the fastest and best method is to just bite the bullet and factory reset your phone. You shouldn't have to factory reset your phone, but it'll do the best job at making your phone feel new again. Before getting started, make sure your photos and videos are backed up with a cloud service. You'll also lose save data for any games that don't use a cloud backup system like Google Play Games, so weigh that option before you actually reset anything. When you're ready to nuke everything from orbit, we have some handy instructions to walk you through it!

When you're ready to set your phone up again, follow the same steps you did when you first bought it. You'll probably see the option to restore a backup from your previous phone, but skip that and set it up as new: it'll take a little bit extra time to get everything in place, but your phone will act smoother for it.

Head to Play Store to download apps but — again — don't download all the same ones that were on your phone before the reset. If you were having battery issues, it's likely a misbehaving app was causing it. Again, it'll take some trial and error, but only install a few apps at a time to help you narrow down which one was misbehaving.

You shouldn't have to factory reset your phone, but we don't live in a perfect world. Factory resetting your phone and setting it up as new may take a few hours, but your device will be better for it.

How often do you factory reset your devices? Let us know down below!

42 Comments
  • Is there a way to save how you setup your icons on your home screen and widgets?
  • Depends what launcher you're using.
  • Screenshot each page and upload them to a computer. I do that when I change phones.
  • Do you use a Launcher?
  • If you use Nova Launcher, you can backup and restore your Home Screen layout.
  • It's probably easiest and safest to take screenshots. I remember I tried to do something similar and saved the layout to an app's cloud service and it got lost. Thankfully I remembered how most of my screen looked like but there was one missing gap in the middle which wound me up. Can't have been that important but it did wind me up for a little while.
  • Factory reset my phone? Yeah, no.
  • I do this at least twice per year. I take advantage of cloud storage so it's less of a pain than it used to be. I know people who have had their phones for years but who absolutely refuse to reset because they still have tons of photos and music in onboard storage. Refusing to change is what makes one a dinosaur regardless of age.
  • That’s so patronizing !!!
  • Previous Android phones required me to do this about every year and it was a big help. (Moto and Samsung) OG Pixel... Going strong and coming up on two years. 😀
  • Same, on Pixel 1st gen. It's no different from day one performance wise, except for battery life getting shorter.
  • Luckily, I have never needed to do this. I will occassionally remove apps and do a reboot but there is no way I'm going through the hassle of resetting my phone. I buy flagship phones that don't really slow down dramatically over time.
  • Best way is to flash your device every 6 months!
    Is any technical issues if I'd flash old firmwares on nexus 5x? Like Android 6? Does bootloader version matter?
  • Serious overkill
  • Tom, you missed an opportunity for another article: "The best phone for factory resets"!
    We all know who the winner would be...
  • Who?
  • The author
  • Samsung! Ding ding ding ding ding
  • For the win!
  • I haven't needed to factory reset due to performance issues since like 2012.. (Nexus /Pixel user) Plus, I thought the need for this was eliminated when Android implemented TRIM?
  • Because I just love spending about 3 days trying to get my phone back to how I had it set up before. Factory reset is an absolute last and worst case scenario. iPhone's are so much easier to restore from a backup. Re-enter a few passwords and boom you have your phone exactly as it was before.
  • That's how it on most phones if you don't customize.. But we like customization :) And it only takes about 20 min to set your phone back up if it's backed up properly.
  • Not in my experience.
  • iPhones are easier but it still only takes about an hour for me to get it where it was and I do everything fresh except for Nova backup.
  • I only do this if necessary (like going from one big update to another and there's battery life issues). I find it easier to just wipe the cache partition. At least on Android, it's so easy to just backup and restore your messages.
  • I haven't had to do a reset yet, but if I did, is there a backup for simply the settings? The rest would be easy peasy.
  • My husband did a factory reset on his s8. when he reboots the phone it states select language, connect to wifi and after that it states "there was a problem connecting to accounts.google.com. Is there a fix for this?
  • Don't forget you can use a tool like Helium to back up your app data before a wipe. This can get you back up to speed much faster after a wipe.
  • It's not all that reliable. I remember using it for my Nexus 7 2013 and it caused me a lot of headache.
  • If you're rooted.
  • "It's time to factory reset your phone" No. It isn't.
  • I think I had to once many years ago...but now I just do it right after I update with any available OTA updates...nothing personal...no apps...no Google...then reset....then do the Google personal setup. I reboot once a day...always...everything runs great that way!
  • Clearly the author trained on Verizon's Android customer service script. I think factory reset is pretty close to the third thing they always recommend. Not gonna do it; wouldn't be prudent; acute waste of time and completely unnecessary.
  • My S5 has never had a factory reset. I have 25g of VUDU on the SD card if I do a factory reset. A reinstall of VUDU would not know it is there. I do wipe the cache every few weeks.
  • I don't do factory resets, not even after major updates. (Although my battery life was awful after installing Oreo, the issue went away a couple days later without any effort on my part.)
  • Chuckling......I have a Pixel and an iPhone X. I have owned many Android's though the years and have had to factory reset/clear cache/look for rogue apps draining battery. The only 2 things my X or any other iPhone I have owned has on Android, iMessage and never having to factory reset et al due to lag or battery drain.
  • Nope, uninstalling 'bad' apps and cleaning cache is enough for me 😁
  • I actually enjoy doing it, makes my Pixel 2 XL run as good as new, maybe takes an hour all together or so.
  • The need to factory reset something is generally proof that the manufacturer stuffed up their software. Rather than just use it as a solution how about at least putting the blame where it belongs?
  • I've never had to do a factory reset until I bought my current Chinese phone (Leagoo M9) which had adware that kept on reinstalling themselves, which I never had to do with any of my previous Android phones, but I had to do it with my old iPhone 6s Plus after iOS 11 which is a train wreck before I sold it and switched back to Android for good in January. When I get my Pixel 2 XL, I know I won't have to do this crap. I do clear the cache more often than I'd like on my phone to stop it from lagging which again I can't wait till my financial situation is sorted as it's making me depressed.
  • I just reset my unlocked S8+ after the Oreo update. I didn't really need to but I've found I can wipe and restore my phone in 60-90 mins. As long as you're prepared it isn't really all that difficult. I don'y use a lot of apps that need to be backed up so for me it's just a matter of reinstalling and signing in.
  • No, no it's not, but I'll be sure to let you know when it is, Lol.