Have you ever given thought to how much sensitive data is on your Android device? If you haven’t you’re not alone. We just use our devices as they’re meant to be used and that’s it. But if you’re planning to trade your old one in for something a bit more bright and shiny it’s very good idea to wipe it clean first.
Android phones bought from eBay have revealed:
- Google searches
- Text messages
- Contact details
This information was accessed without much digging.
Factory reset protection
Factory Reset Protection (FRP) is a feature on Android devices designed to prevent thieves from being able to steal your phone, wipe it, and then use it or sell it.
- When you factory reset a phone with FRP enabled and try to set it up as a new device, you’re prompted to enter the username and password for the last Google account that was registered on the device.
- If you don’t have those details, then the phone will remain locked and you can’t gain access. Clearly, this is no good if you’re trying to sell it or give it away.
To get around this and clean your device of personal data you need to disable FRP. The steps differ slightly depending on the phone model, but generally the following steps work:
- Go to Settings > Lock screen and security > Screen lock type and choose None.
You then need to remove your Google account. As above the general steps are as follows:
- Go to Settings > Cloud & accounts > Accounts and tap on Google, then tap Remove account.
Once your Google accounts have been removed, you can proceed with the factory reset.
Factory reset and encryption
When you do a factory reset on your Android smartphone, it’s supposed to wipe it clean but, and here’s the rub, it doesn’t.
A factory reset deletes the addresses of your data on the device, so it no longer knows where it’s stored, but it doesn’t actually overwrite the data.
This being the case, it’s possible for someone to buy a second hand Android, use off-the-shelf recovery software and get access to personal and typically sensitive data.
So to wipe your Android smartphone properly you need to encrypt your data.
The exact method for navigating this again differs slightly from phone to phone. But generally it is as follows:
- Settings > Security > Encrypt phone
But for instance on a Samsung Galaxy you need to go to:
- Settings > Lock screen & security > Protect encrypted data
If your phone is running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above it should be encrypted by default so you can skip this step.
A word to the wise, before you begin the encryption process either fully charge your phone or keep it plugged into the charger; the process can take several hours depending on how much data you have.
Also make sure that you have anything you want to keep backed up before you do this because it will wipe everything.
- On a Samsung Galaxy, go to Settings > General Management > Reset > Factory data reset and then tap Reset device.
- On a Huawei phone, go to Settings > System > Reset > Factory data reset and then tap Reset Phone.
- On a Google Pixel, go to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options > Erase all data (factory reset) and then tap Reset phone.
Follow these steps and your phone will be wiped and data will be encrypted making it near impossible to decrypt. You can now safely sell your Android or pass it on to the kids, family, friends.