How to Properly Securely Erase Your Android Device

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 9 Jul 2014

All this is unsettling. Avast, the anti-virus app maker, reported that Android’s factory reset abilities don’t delete your data. The handy infographic related to the research is all a part of a marketing ploy on Avast’s part to hawk its product. Still, it’s also a worthy reminder that when you sell or give up your phone. You’re giving up a little piece of your digital self. Most users will feel Android’s built-in factory reset is enough, but it’s not. When you delete data on most digital devices, Android phones, and tablets, you keep all of those. Instead, you tell the file system this data is safe to write over with other stuff. To do otherwise would be slow and shorten the lifespan of your flash storage. If you have particularly sensitive information on your hardware or want a little extra peace of mind. Here’s a helpful tip on keeping that data locked away forever.

Encrypt Your Data

You don’t need fancy software to securely wipe your phone and make it ready to sell or donate. You need to encrypt it first. This is the only step; it is a bit more time-consuming than simply resetting your phone. It ensures that someone with the skills to get to the data. You left behind will have to tear down one heck of a wall to do it. Bear in mind that the process can’t be reversed.

Encrypt your device from the Settings panel.

Head to the Settings app, and under Security, you’ll see a few settings for device encryption. If you’ve got an expansion slot, your device might also offer you the option to encrypt the inside SD card. Still, you don’t need to worry about that if you pop it out and keep it for yourself.

HTC’s Sense 6 asks if you want to encrypt the SD card content.

The device will take a while to encrypt, depending on how much data you have. Often up to an hour. But when you’re all done, you can perform that factory reset. Knowing that your information is technically still in all the blank areas of your phone’s storage. It’s encrypted and can’t be easily read.