Android 2.3: How to Safely Factory Reset a Gingerbread Device

   Posted September 28, 2011 by David Kirk in Android

All devices running the Gingerbread Android OS can be factory reset (or wiped) using similar steps. This tutorial describes what a factory reset actually does and how to do it safely.

In preparing my Sony Ericsson review unit for return, I needed to remove all my personal data and wipe the device clean. Users frequently contact me with issues and problems in trying to reset these devices. Hopefully, these directions will save you some trouble.

What do the factory reset actually do?

The purpose of the factory reset is to wipe the device of all personal information and return the device as closely as possible to its originally purchased state. The only difference is that during the factory reset, however, the latest stable version of the Android OS will likely be installed. For example, if you are running 2.3.3 and 2.3.4 is available for your device, you will likely be upgraded to 2.3.4 when you perform the factor reset.

During the reset all personal information is removed. Optionally your SD card can be wiped as well. All applications are also removed. Android market will remember your paid applications and can optionally reinstall these applications for you. Your free applications typically will not be remembered. Even if the applications are installed to an SD card, these applications will still need to be reinstalled.

When Should I do a Factory Reset

If you are selling or returning a device, a factory reset will prevent somebody from easily stealing your personal data from the device. A factory reset is often a “last ditch” effort to get a very glitchy phone working well again.

Preparing for the Reset

select back up contacts
1. Connect your phone to AC through some method. Running out of power during the reset could theoretically brick your phone.

2. Be sure you know your Google username and password. Be sure that Google’s backup is enabled via Settings -> Privacy -> Back up my data

3. Export your contacts to your SD memory card if you wish. Select Contacts and then Back up contacts. Then you can select Memory card.

4. You may want to make a list of all the applications you have on your system. You can find the list through Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications. Several free android applications will help with this process as well if you wish to try a third party option.

Wiping the Device

This process will completely wipe your device. Even if you backup everything as recommended above, you may lose some application data or settings. This is not a process that should be done lightly.

To factory reset, select Settings then Privacy and then Factory data reset.

A warning screen will next appear. From here you can select if you want the SD card in the device erased as well. Press the Erase button. You will have to confirm one last time via the Erase everything button. Your device will reboot and the reset process will be completed.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

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  • Noble


    Is there any way to reset a phone when the touch screen does not respond/


    • asim


  • jgordon5

    Excellent, thank you. The only site I’ve found that gives the correct instructions!! Thank you!

  • Ana Milena Araujo

    Hi, I’m sorry but my english is really bad. I’m so desperate, my tablet doesn’t start. It is completely die. I’m trying everything but nothing works…Do you know what can I do? IT is charging for almost an hour, i have reset it, i have pressed on buttom + home, on buttom +menu, and it is the same! sorry if you don’t understand me…but i’m really desperate! Thanks anyway

  • borge

    hi i hawe a new super pai iii tryed change language from chinese to english and pressed wrong row not moore start only buzz when press power on

  • M3NTA7

    @Noble, try removing the battery and putting it back in first. I know this is an old post.

    • udhaya

      I’m using sansui sa40, in that while doing factory default its asking the password,what will be the password.

  • Stefano

    hi I dont know the email or passward and how do I reset to Factory?

  • RG

    ¡Gracias! đŸ™‚

  • Mps

    Phone asking password? what will i do?

  • Domanik

    I dont know lock pattern or email account. When I try to hard reset a OS warning appears. What do I do??

  • ankit

    after i have upgraded my phone to android ics, i’ve reset my phone via factory settings but i didnt get the original version of os(gingerbread) what should do ow?

  • Calvin

    my x10 mini pro not downloading i need to flush or restart to its original,thank you

  • Teree

    My daughter’s tmobile smart phone’s screen was recently smashed and a friend gave her a tmobile htc that he had added gingerbread version of android OS. We have tried everything to reset it so that my daughter can use her google account but nothing will work. We have taken it into tmobile and contacted the friend but no one can help us reset the phone. Any ideas?

  • pushpendra

    tel me what i do my tab. google android 2.3 os i click to menu then menu list open and click any option then close not open any options and install any software and restart my tab.then uninstall all new installed soft.(apk) please help me……….

  • Profesor Yeow

    Thaks a lot !! Very useful

  • Arturo

    Great! Very useful! Thank you Dave!

  • caylah

    I just recently changed my password number pin and I can’t seem to get the pin right. I’ve tried taking the battery out and waiting then restarting it and it still says I am wrong. Is there anyway I can reset this setting without having access to the main screen and without having to lose all my data. Please help me out thanks.

  • vishal

    How to 2.3.6verson android make4.0or4.1
    Pls give me answer or

  • hardeep

    i have a reset my phone bt this time not a working only i hane power on the phone bt phone display shows xperia …….please help me

  • Tamilarasan

    sir i am using MAXX AX353 yesterday my mobile is patten locked many times try is asking email id and password i am try to factory reset in power button + vol+ but is asking
    full phone test
    view phone test result
    iterm test
    BT EUT
    ctp calibrate
    And another way to try power button + vol- is show ! symbol
    pleas tell to how to unlocked my phone

  • copeland lee

    Great for this. However, it is incredibly easy to get personal information from an android phone even had a factory reset.

    So if you want to sell your android phone, you must erase everything on it permanently to keep your personal data safety.