How to: Wipe your Android phone properly

So, it’s finally time to wipe your Android phone. It may be the old one at the back of the draw or one you bought recently and want a new phone. Or you might be giving it to a relative or a friend, either way, you are going to have you wipe your phone. The best thing to do is a factory reset or get it back to its original setting more “box fresh”. But did you know what doing a factory reset doesn’t complete the job 100%?

When factory resetting your device to wipe your data, most of it will survive it but will be hidden. Nevertheless, there are dozens of tools out there which enables a new owner (or thief) to easily retrieve this information. In this post, we will show you how to really take care of your data and make sure any sensitive data is safe from tinkerers.

How is storage handled?

As you know many companies provided data recovery services and programs. This is possible because of the way that most operating systems these days (including Android) handle storage. Files are never really “deleted” it just becomes invisible for the user and is marked as “free space”. This is then left in the background until space is required by the system, then the new files replace the old files.
What’s the point of doing this? there are a few reasons why operating systems use this type of method to ‘remove’ your files. One reason is that it is convenient, as it can take a toll on the hardware of the device, whether it be a laptop or a smartphone.

As you might know, Hard Disks Drives (HHDs) and Solid State Drives (SSDs) have an estimated lifespan, as it hardware can only rewrite over itself before it wears out. Also, this process of deleting files was easier and benefited slower and older hardware. A bonus of this method is that when you do accidently delete those files which you need they can be easily recovered.

There is no definitive way to get rid of all your data, but we will show how you can at least ‘wipe’ your data and keep your other files safe. So, let’s get started.

Encrypt your phone

If you are going to be selling your phone, and want to conduct a factory reset so that the software is box fresh. Then you should at least make sure that no one else can take advantage of it. By encrypting your device, it won’t stop or change the method which it uses to ‘delete’ data. But the information retrieved from the device will be scrambled. This simply means that people who gain access to it won’t be able to do anything with it.

To do this go to settings > select ‘Security’ > scroll down and then select ‘Encrypt Phone’. This step may be a little different for some it may be a little different for some phones. In addition to this, phones running Android 5.0 or later will have their devices encrypted by default.

Flood your device with trivial files

If you are determined to get rid of your personal data stored deep in the guts of the phone, then. Files will only be deleted when they are replaced with other files, so the solution is simple. Flood your device with a bunch of trivial files.

Make sure that these files are pointless, otherwise, it will defeat the purpose of doing it. These files could be random songs, movies or photos of anything. Just fill up your smartphone’s storage until it is full. After that perform another factory reset and jobs a good’un.

This is more of a solution, but it is the closest we can get to properly wiping your phone, without going wild. How else do you keep your data secure? Hit the comments below and let us know!


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Sachin Mistry
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Sachin Mistry

Sachin is an Editor at Bane Tech, where he loves exploring the latest in the Android/Google universe. When he's not buried in words, Sachin is a student at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK studying his first passion which is training to become a culinary arts Chef.