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How to back up your Android phone before a factory reset

Restoring your phone with a factory reset (also known as a “master reset”) is a great way to ensure your personal information is cleared from your device before selling or recycling it.

It can also help to breathe life into an older or slower phone, but you’ll want to make sure you have a minimum of two complete backups of your data for peace of mind.

This guide explains what you need from a backup service, how to back up your Android phone, and how to reset it to the factory default.

Choosing your Android backup service

Are you a typical Android user? If so, chances are you’ve switched between various different models and makes of Android phones over the years to see which you like best.

There are so many makes and models of Android phones available that it makes sense to have a single service to handle all your backup needs.

So whether you hop between different Android manufacturers, or you simply have a variety of phones in your household, you can back up all of them in the same way using a single service for ease of use.

In addition to not being restricted to any one manufacturer-specific backup service from Samsung, Sony, or similar, you can even include iPhones and Windows phones in your backups along with any tablets and even computers.

You don’t have to try and remember a bunch of logins, subscribe to multiple services, or download various apps to manage everything, and you have the same hassle-free access whether it’s an HTC phone or a Motorola.

Before conducting a factory reset, you’ll need to back up your phone following the instructions below.

Backing up your Android phone before a reset

  • From a location with a reliable Wi-Fi connection, sign up for a reliable backup service.

    We recommend choosing a plan that offers plenty of space, because even if you’re only backing up one phone, you’ll want a plan with at least double the size of your phone storage (and memory card, if applicable) capacity.

    For complete peace of mind, we suggest having two separate backups in different locations as retrieving data from your phone following a factory reset is notoriously difficult.

  • After registering your backup plan, simply follow the onscreen prompts to complete your backup. Depending on the service you choose, wired and wireless backup options may be available.

    Connect to your phone and clicking through the wizard to start copying data. This is the longest part of the process and could take several hours depending on the type of data and how much is being copied.

    You can speed up the backup process by doing it during off-peak hours, for example late at night or early in the morning.

  • Wait for the service to confirm that backup has successfully completed and then safely disconnect your phone.
  • Take a quick look through what’s been uploaded to make sure you have a backup of everything you need and the files have uploaded correctly.

Now you’ve completed your Android phone backup, you can move on to your factory reset.

How to factory reset your Android phone

  • If you have a removable memory card or SD card in your phone and you want to keep existing data on it as an extra safeguard, safely eject the card before starting your factory reset. You can always replace it with another blank memory card later, or simply leave the slot free for the next user to use their own. If you don’t remove your memory card it can be wiped by the factory reset process.
  • To begin your factory reset, go into the Settings menu of your phone and choose the Back Up and Reset option.
  • From there simply tap Factory Data Reset, enter your pass code if you have set one and follow the onscreen dialogue prompts to reset your phone, which should take no more than 20 minutes.
  • If you have not set a password or passcode for your phone, try 0000 as this is the standard master code for all Android phones.
  • If you can’t find your password or passcode, it may be time to go to the manufacturer’s page, for example Sony if you have an Xperia phone, to see if there is a device-specific passcode.
  • Then all you need to do is reboot your phone when prompted and it will be fully restored to its factory condition. Congratulations! Your master restore is complete.

Remember, the key part of this process is having reliable cloud-based backups, so take a look at the best choices for backup solutions in order to fully safeguard your phone files and data.

MAIN IMAGE: Scott Akerman/CC BY 2.0


Jenny is a technology writer, author and teacher based in the North West
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