Can You Recover Data After a Factory Reset on Android Phones?


If you can no longer use your Android phone, the only solution might be to factory reset it. A factory reset, also known as a hard reset, deletes all settings and data from your device, reverting it to its original state.

But can you recover data from an Android phone after you’ve factory reset it? We’ll take a look at which data you can or can’t recover and when you should consider hard resetting your Android device.

Can Data Be Recovered After a Factory Reset?

Since Android 6 Marshmallow, Android devices ship encrypted by default. This means that you don’t have to worry about people accessing your deleted data using forensic tools.

Android devices use full disk encryption (FDE) or file-based encryption (FBE) protocols, as well as a TRIM feature that clears and removes data when it is deleted. This eliminates any chance of recovering it once you factory reset your phone.

Even if tools can extract old files from your device, these files are encrypted, so they can’t be read by anyone else. This is one of the many reasons why you may want to enable end-to-end encryption on all your devices.

Cloud Backups Can Be a Good and a Bad Thing

cloud backups can be a good thing
Image Credit: Faithie/Depositphotos

However, encryption doesn’t mean that your data is entirely gone. Most services now have some kind of cloud backup, where your user data is stored online. Your Google account, for example, may have synced data from your Android device.

This can include app data, calendar, browser data (if you use Chrome), contacts, documents and other files stored in Google Drive or Docs, and your Gmail email data. If your media is automatically stored on the cloud, then this makes it easy to recover photos after a factory reset. If you need to restore this data, you can do so after a reset during the setup process.

While cloud storage is a great safety net, there are still some security concerns. Cloud security has improved drastically in recent years, but there are still steps that you can take to keep your cloud storage safe and secure.

Even so, your data may still be vulnerable due to insecurities in cloud backups. To destroy your data completely, you’ll need to close all your accounts that use cloud backups.

When You Should Factory Reset the Phone

There are times when you don’t need to factory reset your phone. Simply restarting it to clear its memory, running the antivirus, or uninstalling a suspicious app, might be enough to get it working again. However, there are situations when you have no choice, and you have to factory reset it.

When There’s Too Much Junk

If you had your phone for a few years, chances are it’s now filled with apps, videos, photos, and other things that you can’t even remember. Also, as your phone keeps running, it will accumulate a lot of data and cached files, which will slow down its performance. A factory reset helps to clear all this out.

You should know that are more ways to remove junk from your phone that will not remove your data and files. You can manually uninstall apps you no longer use and are slowing down your phone and deleting content, but you could also use a third-party app to clean up your Android device.

You’re Dealing With a Malware Infection

If you notice your phone is overheating, has slowed down, or is unresponsive, your phone might be infected with malware.

Text messages displayed in app

If you’ve already restarted your phone, but it didn’t make things better, you should factory reset your phone. This way, you might get rid of the malware infestation. Once you get your phone up and running, take a look at our guide on how you can prevent malware on your Android device.

When You Plan on Selling Your Phone

If you want to sell your phone, you should factory reset it, no matter if there’s nothing wrong with your phone. By resetting it, the buyer doesn’t get your personal files and information. However, there are more things do to before selling your Android phone.

Used Samsung Galaxy S phones on eBay

How to Recover Data After a Factory Reset

Fortunately, Android phones come with a built-in backup tool that allows you to recover your data after a factory reset. To enable it, head to the phone Settings > Backup and reset and turn on Backup my data.

But if you haven’t got the chance to turn on the feature, and you had to factory reset your phone to fix a malware infestation, it’s likely that data not tied to specific apps with cloud support might be lost. You could try one of the Android apps that recover deleted files for you as a last resort.

Make Sure You Back Up Your Phone Before a Factory Reset

Hopefully, we’ve answered your questions about data recovery when you’re dealing with a factory reset. Fortunately, Android makes it easier to get back your data as long as you’ve enabled the data recovery feature or are using other cloud services. You don’t need to worry about others accessing your data as long as you’ve got encryption enabled.

Not backing up your data is one of the common mistakes, but it isn’t the only one that Android users make.


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