When you get a new Android device, it comes loaded with a set of pre-installed apps. For that matter, even when you install a custom ROM, there are select few apps that are included in it by the developer. These applications can be considered to be part of the OS while other apps are user installed apps. Over time, managing the numerous apps installed on the device by the user and the associated data may become untenable. The easy way out of this problem is to reset the device to factory settings.
Though we use the term factory settings here, it’s not to be taken literally. If you have installed a custom ROM, this will not take you back to stock ROM. It will just restore your current ROM to its original state. Now that we’ve cleared this concept, let’s see the steps involved in resetting an Android device.
Steps to reset your Android device
Go to the “Backup & reset” feature found in the Personal section under Settings.
Under Backup & Restore, you have the option to enable backup of your app data, Wi-Fi settings and passwords to Google servers. You can also choose to enable restoration of app data from the servers when the app is reinstalled on your device.
If you have added multiple user accounts to your device, you can choose any one of them to act as the backup account.
Once the account is selected and backup is in place, tap on “Factory data reset.”
This brings up the information about your currently signed in accounts as well as the data that would be erased on doing a factory data reset. The point to note here is the emphasis in the word internal storage. If your device supports an SD card, you will get an option to erase the SD card as well (unchecked by default.) The Nexus 7 tablet does not support SD card and all of its storage space is internal. Thus, a reset completely wipes all user and app data and makes the tablet as good as new.
Tap on “Reset tablet” and you get another warning message asking for your confirmation. Tap on “Erase everything” to continue.
The device reboots as it resets to factory settings. As all settings are wiped clean, you have to set up your device again.
One you choose the language and proceed ahead, you are asked to choose a Wi-Fi Network and add a Google Account. The setup also asks for your permission to access your location. One of the important steps here is one with the Backup & Restore options.
If you added an account to the device in the earlier steps which I did, and it is the same account as your backup account (it was for me), you can now restore from your Google Account to the device. Use this option with caution as this will restore all the apps to the device that were installed on your device before it was reset.
A few words of caution
Reset is a very useful option to have when you wish to go back to the original setup within moments. But the single most important point you should worry about before resetting is app and user data. For Google services, you do not need to be concerned as your data syncs to the app immediately after you add an account. Though the backup feature gives an option to backup app data as well, for other apps, I could not see any restored data. Game profiles and saved data were definitely lost. Perhaps this is because the Nexus 7 device I use has only internal storage which is wiped clean during a reset.
If you are concerned about the data of some specific application, we recommend using Titanium Backup to secure your data before you reset your device. Also, don’t forget to move this backup to your computer before resetting. Once reset is complete, transfer the data back to your device, install the required app and restore its data using Titanium Backup.
All of this being said and done, what to do if you cannot find backup & reset under Personal Section under settings? Look around. This guide demonstrates the necessary steps in stock Android OS Jelly Bean 4.2.2. The steps might vary a bit depending on your ROM or manufacturer skin but the overall options and process would be similar.