How to Restore Your Android Phone to Factory Settings

Here at Lockergnome, we’ve given you lots of guides on how to root, ROM, mod, and do lots of other advanced customization of your Android device. But what if you need to bring your phone back to its stock settings? Sometimes it can be harder than you think, depending on how deeply you have modified your phone.
1. The Android “Factory Reset” (All phones)

  • The quickest way to wipe your phone is to do a “Factory Reset.” This will wipe your Android device’s data partition, which includes all of Android’s user data including custom apps, settings, text messages, and phone logs. After a factory reset, the phone will start up like it’s a new device, prompting you to log in to your Google account. This is a great, quick way to get your information off the phone in case you’d like to sell it.

1. Go to your device’s settings menu. This cam be done by either hitting the menu button on your phone and then clicking “settings” on the touchscreen, or by opening up your applications drawer and selecting the “Settings” app.
2. Select the “Privacy” option from the settings main menu.
3. Select the “Factory Data Reset” option on the next screen.
4. Tap the “Reset Phone” button.
This will delete your settings, custom apps, phone logs, text messages and your synced Google accounts. It will not touch the SD card, which you will have to clear manually before getting rid of the phone.
2. Re-Flashing the stock ROM
If you’ve flashed a custom ROM on your device like Cyanogenmod, Bugless Beast or MIUI, the factory reset will not completely restore your phone to stock. Custom ROMS are stored in a different partition on your phone than the user data, and the built in Android reset will not touch these files.
Resetting your ROM varies by phone, but here are some of the most common methods.
-ROM Manager Method (Most phones)
You can use a Market application called ROM Manager to restore to stock, as long as someone has added the stock ROM for your phone to the ROM Manager database. I’ve found that most phones include a stock ROM option including the original Droid, Nexus One, G1, and G2. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Download ROM Manager from the Market, if you don’t have it already.
  2. Open up ROM Manager, give it Superuser permissions, and select the “Download ROM” option.
  3. Look for the “Stock” option on the list of ROMs to download. Tap it to start the flashing process. If you like, you can choose to backup your current ROM to the SD Card before restoring to stock. If you do this, the backup will be in a folder called “ClockworkMod” on your SD Card.
  4. Your phone will then reboot and begin the flashing process. When it finishes, you’ll be completely back to stock including all your settings, ROMs, and the recovery image.

-Flashing from a computer (Varies by phone, advanced users only)
If ROM Manager doesn’t have a stock ROM option for your phone, you can usually use a combination of a PC and some hardware-specific software for your device to load the stock ROM over USB. This is generally for advanced users only, but can also be useful if you can’t boot your phone and are without a working backup to load. We don’t have the space to put guides for every device in this post, but they are easily available on many forums across the Internet. Here’s links to instructions for some of the major devices.

If your device isn’t listed here a quick Google Search for “stock settings DEVICE” should turn up plenty of good guides to follow.

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  • William Morgan

    Thanks for the article – I am going to jump in and try a few of those apps.
    Funny I had a meeting with a senior user yesterday, showing him the sound recorder app in Windows 7 for dictating as well as Dropbox for file sharing. Made me think – people can really set themselves up with a lot of good stuff without having to invest anything but than their time.
    Love that anecdote about the recycling of old hardware using Linux. Great work.