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Old October 15th, 2012, 04:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default "Factory Reset"

Does doing a "Factory Reset" actually wipe all the custom data off the internal memory of a phone, or just "Delete" it, as in delete the FAT records for those file but not actually wipe over the data?
I am going to sell my old Google G2, and did a factory reset, but am not sure if the data has actually been 'physically' overwritten.

I've looked at wiping apps on the play store, like one called "SHREDroid", but from the reviews it looks to be buggy.
This is with an un-rooted phone.


EDIT: Is this:: a necessary or good step to perform after doing the factory reset?
"settings> sd card and phone storage> tap, "unmount phone storage", then tap "format phone storage"."
EDIT: Doesn't look like my G2 has that "format phone storage" option, so nvm.

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Last edited by danwat1234; October 15th, 2012 at 05:17 PM.
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Old October 15th, 2012, 06:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey there Dan, i have a quote from another site that might help you with understanding this

Also welcome to the forums

First, what does a "factory reset" do? The short answer is: it will return your phone to the condition it was in when you first purchased it EXCEPT the Android version will match your phone's latest update. For example, I had Android 2.2.1 (Froyo) on my phone before the "soak". My phone was updated to Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread or "GB") during the "soak". I had some trouble with video performance in the Fox News app and missing album cover art in the Google Music app. So I decided to do the factory reset. After the reset was finished, my Droid X still had Android 2.3.3 on it but all of the settings had been restored to their factory defaults. And presumably, all Android operating system (OS) caches had been flushed. All of the data that was stored in my phone's memory was cleared. So my contacts were all gone. And I had to reactivate my phone (*228 1) just like a new phone and reenter my Google account info.

Does a factory reset actually clear the entire contents of the phone's memory and re-install Android from scratch? (That's what I wish it did.) But I'm not sure that it does that because the entire process seems to go too fast for that. However, a factory reset does seem to do a better job of cleaning out the remnants of the previous OS (Froyo 2.2.1) than a standard "update" does. But that's not all.

The factory reset also clears all of the apps that were installed in the phone's memory. And it clears all of the app data that was installed in the phone's memory. So you will have to reinstall all of your apps from the Android Market (or wherever they came from). Normally, you do not have to pay for them again because the Android Market remembers your previous purchases as long as you register your phone with the same Google account.

However, the Android Market does not remember the free apps that you installed---so you should make a list of all your apps before you reset your phone so you won't forget the free ones. The reason I wrote "installed in the phone's memory" above is because a factory reset gives you a choice whether or not to clear your phone's micro SD memory card. If desired, it will leave it alone. So any apps or data will still be present on your card after the reset. However, your phone will not be aware of the apps on the memory card because all "knowledge" of them will have been erased from your phone's internal memory---you'll still have to reinstall ALL of your apps. But the data files will still be there. Regarding the "built-in" apps that come pre-installed with Android, they will also be restored to their original state and version when you do a factory reset. So you'll need to update some of them (like updating Google Maps and updating Adobe Flash from 10.1 to 10.3).

Before you do a factory reset, you should have a fully charged battery becaues you do NOT want to run out of power in the middle of a reset---that could "brick" your phone. I always take an extra precaution: in addition to a fully charged battery, I also connect my phone to AC with the Motorola AC-to-USB charging adapter that came with it. Not only does it insure that I won't run out of power, it also keeps my battery fully charged so I have a 100% charge after the factory reset (you'll have a lot of work to do afterward to reinstall your apps and restore all of your Android and app settings back to your preferences).

Here's a pre reset checklist:
• Export your contacts to your SD card so you can easily restore them later (Contacts/Dialer menu > Import/Export > Export contacts to: SD card).
• Make a list of all of the apps that you installed (Android menu > Manage Apps > Downloaded tab).
• Get a copy of your Google account login info (user name and password).
• Get a copy of your Verizon Backup Assistant PIN (if you use this service).
• Turn off your phone and pull its battery. Wait 30 seconds or more and reinstall the battery and turn the phone back on. This will make sure that there is nothing hinky in your phone's volatile memory as the factory reset begins.
• Fully charge your phone's battery and plug the AC charging adapter into the phone.

Now you're ready to do the deed. Follow these steps:
1. If it's not already on, turn on Google's "back up my data" option with Android menu > Settings > Privacy > Back up my data. This is required for the next step.
2. Turn off the "automatic restore" option with Android menu > Settings > Privacy > Automatic restore. This will prevent your phone from trying to download every paid app that was previously on your phone all at once. It is much better---especially if you have a lot of apps---to install them one at a time. Plus, you may not want some of them to be reinstalled right away if you are trying to determine if one of them is causing trouble under GB 2.3.3.
3 If you do not want to use Google's "back up my data" service to restore your wi-fi passwords and such, then return to Step 1 and turn it off.
4. Begin the factory reset with Android menu > Settings > Privacy > Factory Data Reset. You'll be asked to confirm that you really want to do a factory reset and you'll be given the opportunity to clear your micro SD memory card as a part of the process. I chose not to clear my memory card because I have a 32 GB card with "tons" of music and other files that I do not want to have to restore (it would take hours).

When should you do a factory reset? Everyone should do it before they give their phone away, sell it, or discard it. You don't want someone else to have access to your personal data! And, a factory reset can be a helpful troubleshooting tool when faced with problems.

By the way, my factory reset did not help the video problem I was having with the Fox News app nor did it enable Google's Music app to find all of the album art on my micro SD card. Both problems persisted after the reset under GB 2.3.3.

Finally, there are other things you can do to flush old data from your phone such as clearing the cache partition of your phone's built-in memory. This requires the use of its "Android system recover" menu. Even though I expect this cache data to be cleared during a factory reset, I did it after my reset just to make sure. Clearing the cache partition is usually what folks try before a factory rest so they can (hopefully) avoid the factory reset. I'll leave it to a Motorola staff person to go into that.
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Old October 15th, 2012, 06:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Digital Controller.

the Storage-->Erase SD card
privacy-->Factory data reset-->Erase SD card checkbox

Neither button wipes the SD card (The external memory card).
It doesn't take any more time for it to 'erase' a full 8GB SD card versus a nearly empty 1GB SD card.

I plug the 'erased' card into my computer, and it has done the equivalent of a format. The partition on the SD card is nearly empty except for a few default folders that the phone created.

I load up my recovery software called "Recover My Files" and do a full scan and it finds all the files that were on the card and I'm able to copy them off to a folder on my computer's hard drive.

Erase? Nope. Wipe? Nope. But perhaps the factory data reset does wipe the internal phone flash memory, though I'm guessing not since it does it in 1 minute or less. I'm sure it's not a DoD 5220.22 government level wipe at any rate.

So before you give away your SD cards, use "KilDisk" or similar to really wipe the card! Doing "Erase SD card" on the phone does nothing to destroy the data on the card.

And beware that the new owner of your phone might root it and then possibly use recovery software to recover some of the data that was on the phone when you owned it!

This is with a Google G2, Android 2.3.4. Perhaps Android 4.0/4.1 actually wipes, who knows.
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Last edited by danwat1234; October 15th, 2012 at 06:56 PM. Reason: added list of directories phone added to SD card after 'erasing' it
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