How to Wipe and Reset an Android Tablet or Phone

Return your Android tablet or phone to factory default

Motorola Moto Z smartphone
Motorola Moto Z smartphone.

 Getty Images / Paul Zimmerman 

A factory reset is when all of the data on a tablet or smartphone is erased and the device returns to its original manufacturer settings. Only operating system updates survive this process. A factory reset is an invaluable troubleshooting tool, and it's a necessary step when selling or trading in an older device. This guide shows you how to do it.

Instructions in this article apply to Android 10 and higher and should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

3 Reasons to Reset Your Android Device

There are typically three reasons to reset an Android device:

  • To fix a problem: The main reason to reset a device is to correct problems that can’t be corrected another way. Examples of these problems include default apps such as the Google Chrome browser no longer working and the device becoming slow. 

Before wiping the device—that is, erasing all the data on it—reboot the device, check the internet speed, and try other troubleshooting steps to fix the problem. Perform a device reset if rebooting the device doesn't work.

  • To sell the device: Another common reason to reset a device is to sell it to someone else. Don’t sell or donate a smartphone or tablet without erasing all the data on it. Resetting the device to the factory defaults is the best way to erase your data.
  • To set up a preowned device: Perform a reset when you buy a used Android tablet or smartphone, especially if that device is set up and ready for use. Unless you received the device from a close friend or family member, don't trust that the operating system is in a clean state.

How to Reset an Android Device

Make sure to backup your data before starting the reset process. Starting with Android Marshmallow (version 6.x), your device backs up automatically to Google Drive. Or you can download an app such as Ultimate Backup to back up the device manually. Once that's done, follow these steps to restore your Android smartphone or tablet to factory settings.

This process erases the data on your smartphone or tablet.

  1. Open your phone or tablet's Settings app.

  2. Tap System > Advanced > Reset options.

    You might be able to skip Advanced and go straight to Reset options.

  3. Tap Erase all data (factory reset) > Erase all data. Enter your PIN, password, or pattern if necessary.

    Screenshots of the Android Settings app depicting how to factory reset
  4. Select Erase all data again.

    This step is the point of no return. Once you select it, the erasing process begins.

  5. Once the erasing process is finished, set up your device and restore your backed-up data.

When Your Android Device Freezes or Won't Boot Up Properly

If you can't perform a factory restore because your device is frozen or won't boot up, it's possible to perform a hardware reset by going into Android recovery mode. To put the device into recovery mode, power it down, then hold a combination of buttons. On most devices, the Volume Down and Power buttons will work.

The following list shows the button combinations for popular Android-based devices. If you don't see your device manufacturer on the list, the easiest way to find the information is to search Google for "master reset" and the device brand name.

Press the other buttons before pressing the Power button. 

Phone Manufacturer Press These Buttons Additional Steps
Samsung Volume Up + Home Button + Power None
Google Nexus/Pixel Volume Down + Power None
HTC Volume Down + Power On some HTC models, continue to hold the Volume Down button after you release the Power button.
Motorola Moto Z/Droid Volume Down + Power On most Moto devices, hold the Volume Down button while you press and release the Power button.
LG Volume Down + Power When the LG logo appears, continue to hold the Volume Down button while you release the Power button, then press the Power button again.
Sony Xperia Volume Down + Power None
Asus Transformer Volume Down + Power None

There are different ways to access the Android recovery mode because manufacturers make it difficult to trigger recovery mode accidentally. Recovery mode makes it easy to wipe the device.

When the device is in Android recovery mode, use the volume buttons to select commands. In this case, the command is some variation of "wipe" or "delete data." It may simply say "perform factory reset." The exact wording may vary by manufacturer. Most devices use the Power button as an Enter button. The process can take several minutes.