How to Wipe and Reset an Android Tablet or Phone

Return your Android tablet or phone to factory default in 6 easy steps

A factory reset is a process that erases the data on a tablet or smartphone and returns it to the original manufacturer settings. Only operating system updates survive this process, so when an Android device is reset to its factory defaults, the updates don't have to be installed again. A factory reset is an invaluable troubleshooting tool, and there are a few other reasons to reset your device.

Factory data reset on an Android tablet
GalaxyOptimus / Wikimedia Commons

Instructions in this article apply to Android Pie 9.0, Oreo 8.0, and Nougat 7.0 and should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

3 Reasons to Reset Your Android Device

There are three reasons to reset an Android device:

  • To fix a problem: The main reason to reset a device is to correct problems that can’t be corrected another way. Examples of these problems include default apps such as the Google Chrome browser no longer work and the device becomes slow. Before wiping the device — that is, erasing all the data on it — reboot the device, check the internet speed, and try other troubleshooting steps to fix the problem. Perform a device reset if rebooting the device doesn't work.
  • To sell the device: Another common reason to reset a device is to sell it to someone else. Don’t sell or donate a smartphone or tablet without erasing all the data on it. Resetting the device to the factory defaults is the best way to erase your data.
  • To set up a preowned device: Perform a reset when you buy a used Android tablet or smartphone, especially if that device is set up and ready for use. Unless you received the device from a close friend or family member, don't trust that the operating system is in a clean state.

How to Reset an Android Device

Before starting the reset process, back up the device. Starting with Android Marshmallow (version 6.x), the device backs up automatically to Google Drive. Or, download an app such as Ultimate Backup to back up the device manually.

This process erases the data on your smartphone or tablet.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Scroll to the Personal section and tap Backup & reset.

  3. Turn on the Back up my data toggle switch.

  4. Plug the device into a power source, and connect the device to Wi-Fi.

    Leave the device plugged in overnight. At the very least, let it charge for a few hours.

  5. At the bottom of the screen, press Factory data reset to erase all the data and put the device in a like-new state.

  6. Verify your choice.

When the tablet or phone restarts, a progress screen displays. This screen indicates that the device is erasing the data. When the data has been deleted, the operating system restarts and shows a screen that is similar to the one it had when it was taken out of the box. The whole process takes a few minutes.

When Your Android Device Freezes or Won't Boot Up Properly

It's possible to perform a hardware reset by going into Android recovery mode. To put the device into recovery mode, hold a combination of buttons. On most devices, hold the Volume Down and Power buttons.

Button Combinations to Reset Your Android Device

The following list shows the button combinations for popular Android-based devices. If you don't see your device manufacturer on the list, the easiest way to find the information is to search Google for "master reset" and the device brand name.

Press the other buttons before pressing the Power button. 

Phone Manufacturer Press These Buttons Additional Steps
Samsung Volume Up + Home Button + Power None
Google Nexus/Pixel Volume Down + Power None
HTC Volume Down + Power On some HTC models, continue to hold the Volume Down button after you release the Power button.
Motorola Moto Z/Droid Volume Down + Power On most Moto devices, hold the Volume Down button while you press and release the Power button.
LG Volume Down + Power When the LG logo appears, continue to hold the Volume Down button while you release the Power button, then press the Power button again.
Sony Xperia Volume Down + Power None
Asus Transformer Volume Down + Power None

There are different ways to access the Android recovery mode because manufacturers make it difficult to trigger recovery mode accidentally. Recovery mode makes it easy to wipe the device.

Wipe or Delete Data From Your Android Device

When the device is in Android recovery mode, use the volume buttons to select the command. In this case, the command is some variation of "wipe" or "delete data." It may simply say "perform factory reset." The exact wording may vary by manufacturer. Most devices use the Power button as an Enter button, so press Power when you've selected the command to wipe the device. The process can take several minutes.