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How to Factory Reset Your Android Phone or Tablet When It Won’t Boot

android-recovery-mode

Safe mode can help you troubleshoot your Android, but sometimes you’ll need to wipe everything and restore your device to its factory state. You can even perform a factory reset when your Android phone or tablet won’t boot normally.

Ensure you have any important data backed up before doing a reset. This includes your Google Authenticator credentials, which will be lost during the reset. Disable two-factor authentication on your accounts first or you’ll experience some trouble afterwards.

If You Can’t Boot

If safe mode doesn’t help fix your device, you can perform a hard reset by booting into a special recovery mode. First, ensure your device is fully shut down.

Press and hold the correct keys to boot the device into recovery mode. This will vary from device to device. Here are some examples:

  • Nexus 7: Volume Up + Volume Down + Power
  • Samsung Galaxy S3: Volume Up + Home + Power
  • Motorola Droid X: Home + Power
  • Devices With Camera Buttons: Volume Up + Camera

Similar devices will likely use similar key combinations. For example, the Nexus 4 also uses Volume Up + Volume Down + Power.

If your device isn’t on this list and none of the above methods work, do a Google search for the name of your device and “recovery mode” – or look in the device’s manual or support pages.

Release the buttons when the device powered on. You’ll see an image of an Android lying on its back with its chest open and its internals revealed.

android-boot-menu

Press the Volume Up and Volume Down keys to scroll through the options until you see Recovery mode on the screen.

recovery-mode-option

Press the Power button to restart into recovery mode. You’ll soon see an Android with a red triangle.

android-recovery-mode

Hold down the Power button and tap Volume Up. You’ll see the Android system recovery menu appear at the top of your screen.

android-system-recovery-menu

Select wipe data / factory reset with the volume keys and tap the Power button to activate it.

Select Yes – erase all user data with the volume buttons and tap Power. Your device will be reset to its factory state and all your data will be erased.

android-wipe-data-factory-reset

If your device freezes at any point, hold down the Power button until it restarts.

If You Can Boot

You can reset your Android phone or tablet normally from its Settings screen. Tap the Backup & reset option on the latest versions of Android or tap Privacy if you’re using Android 2.3.

android-backup-and-reset

Tap the Factory data reset option and to through the reset of the steps to confirm the factory reset.

android-factory-data-reset


If the factory reset process doesn’t fix your problems – or doesn’t work at all – it’s likely that there’s a problem with your device’s hardware. If it’s still under warranty, you should have it fixed or replaced.

(There’s one exception to this: If you’ve been flashing custom ROMs and messing with your device’s low-level software, it’s possible that you could have overwritten the stock recovery software. In this case, it’s possible that you have a software problem and not a hardware problem.)

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 12/6/12

Comments (34)

  1. SanojTharanga

    Oh……..Nice post………….but I have no android phone to check it……….I will try later…………

  2. logan

    I’m glad you mentioned Google Authenticator. Pre Android 4.0, I had tons of trouble signing in to my google account after I flashed a new ROM. I have found that since 4.0 or 4.1, Google gives you the option of signing in via the web and my Authenticator is hooked up to my Google Voice #, so I can just check my inbox on the computer to verify the device. This may not work if your cell # is the one hooked up to Authenticator, unless you skip the initial sign on process.

  3. Jean-Francois Messier

    I did something with CWM on a Samsung Galaxy Ace, and sinec then, it is no more starting. It is dead, even if I leave it on the charger for a whole day. Does anyone have the sequence of keys for this baby ?

  4. Ítalo Ferraz

    I need your help. The step after the red triangle doesn´t work on my nexus 7. It just goes to the white Google and the device stops again on the lock sreen.
    Do you know what happens?

  5. Ítalo Ferraz

    ok, worked

  6. Mitesh

    not working on Xperia P

  7. 01101001b

    I had to do this… yesterday. Nice article, but late by one day ;-)

  8. ricky

    I just sent my SVP B601 back under warranty. If I had known about this I might could have fixed it myself and saved the UPS charges.

  9. charlie

    Most newer samsung devices you use the home+vol up+power to get into recovery. I know that the s2 used vol up+ vol down+power that is most likly the way to do it with the galaxy ace but I dont know I never had one.

  10. charlie

    Jean what did you do in cwm? I would guess that you wiped tbe system partition which means you wiped the rom out. I hope you made a full system backup.

  11. Brazos

    Windows 8, how to do this,
    how to do that,
    how to make it look like windows 7,
    how to make it have a start button,
    on, on, on, and on.

    I’ve tried this carppie version of Windows and it’s a mess.
    Save your money and use Windows 7.
    Windows 8 is just junk.

  12. thesilentman

    @Brazos,

    Earth to you; we are on an Android article.

    As for the article, good guide and something useful for when I get my SIII. :-)

  13. Beercow

    @Brazos,

    I can see how the word Android and the giant pic of the Android robot can be confused with Windows 8 and their logo. If you can make this mistake, how do we know you actually tried Windows 8? And I think you meant crappy not “crappie”. Did you try sticking a fish in your computer? This is the first I’ve heard of the fish version of Windows. Your right, that would be a mess!

  14. Werner Maertens

    I Have a AIRIS KIRA “ELPAIS” N10040.
    I Received this Brand New Unit months ago ,…. Suddenly …The Unit Stopped Working ! Even Asking for a Password ?????
    After Several Times Phoning to Bercelona/ MADRID !!! and this from the Canary Islands , …
    Those people Send you From A to Z . Give you even Bad Information and Even Asking your IDENTITY !! What ? The SO CALLED ” NEW software” Doesn’t Work eighter ..
    BE CAREFULL, It Might RUIN your LAPTOP OR PC as well ,IF you try to UPLOAD this NEW SOFTWARE to the AIRIS KIRA N10040 !!!
    This Company doesn’t even have a Service point on the Canary Islands !
    They will phone back, tomorrow or Whatever they Promise , but NEVER , and Nothing is happening.
    This Company is telling also, Waranty ..We need to Know the IDENTITY of the Original Buyer ???
    We can repair They say , and then They give you a NON funcioning Tel Number and there You are again… IN THE DESERT !
    I would advise NOBODY to bye such a thing that is NOT working at all.
    All indications to do a reset …. Don’t work eighter !
    That Android …. Is NOT working.
    The Solution,…. Don’t Pay for sutch CRAP .

  15. lastlifelost

    Nope, still dead. Acer A100. Looks like it’s the dreaded EMMC error that seems to hit these things randomly. Unfortunately, Acer isn’t any help because I bought this from a secondary reseller who “bought the warranty servicing rights” and doesn’t provide any help after their own 90-day factory warranty.

    nuts.

  16. Kyllsaph

    Factory Resets are just one item in the android medkit. Stay calm and seek help. You’ll be surprised how far gone a phone can be and still be brought back to life.
    Factory Resets have helped me in the past. I’ve had a few soft bricks that required flashing in download mode, and one hard brick that required a JTAG service (thanks again Mobile Tech Videos).

  17. bharathraj

    hi could anyone find solution for me.I have samsung galaxy Y.Its been a year after purchase with warranty.but now i face booting problem often.sometimes it works properly but often it gets switched off.:(
    awaiting replies from geeky buddies….:)

  18. David Oloruntoba

    Have youtried the tutorial above? It fixed my phone, a chinese clone.

  19. John Cutrone

    Tried all methods on my Droid 2 but all I get is the screen goes white and then black…Any help would be appreciated.

  20. Ben

    If your phone will not BOOT at all, that usually indicates a system failure… something that a simple data / cache wipe will likely not fix. Best solution for an unbootable phone is to get comfortable with the bootloader and using fastboot (included in the android SDK under platform-tools once configured properly) commands to restore your system and other partitions to stock.

    Most img files can be either found on Google or by searching the support / kb portions of the manufacturer’s sites… or, just site search XDA :)

  21. SALKDJ

    WHAT ABOUT INDIPADS

  22. arlind

    Worked fine on T-Mobile Move II. No problems afterwards. Wipe data option is the best choice. Just don’t forget to remove the sd card before you perform any reset operation.

  23. Jack Sparrow

    Hi, I own a 3rd party tablet(unpopular 7″ tablet and became stuck on the boot/loading screen, and will not boot regardless how many times i reboot, reset it will not boot. I dont care if i loose any info settings etc, however if anyone has any ideas PLEASE reply, and iv’e tried all the manual recovery modes, nada, zip nothing. If anybody has an algorithm(program) i may be able to download on my pc and connect my device etc, plz iv’e wasted days just searching for a solution any who thanks for this post but did not work.

  24. Subash

    Thnx… a lot 4 this post

  25. osman Tajudeen

    Please i need help . . . I reset ma phones factory(reset factory)after everytin the language has automatically changed to german .i want it back to english please help

  26. melissa

    My nexus 7 tablet would not come ON, after i had turned it off. Because it froze up on me while i was on facebook. I did a factory reset, and it came right back up :) Thanks for the help !

  27. moony

    this might sound really bad but i dont even know how to reset my tablet. ive been locked out my tablet as i forgot the pattern and i turned the wi-fi off before it was locked. so i cant sign into google and get it unlocked. If anyone knows how to solve this can you send an e-mail to me please

  28. Rodrigo

    Thanks Mate you saved my life.

  29. chel

    just plug your android with a USB cable into your computer and then turn it on. it will work. That’s how I fixed mine.

  30. Gregory Smith

    Whew – thanks for this page. I just received a brand new Kogan Agora tablet and it went brain dead after about 45 seconds. After a bunch of button presses I got this poor Android sick robot. Googling found you page and a recovery mode factory reset has bought the tablet back to life. Thanks heaps.

  31. daphney

    my android table got the green android on the screen with the red warning sign but i cant get any words to come up what can i do to fix it

  32. Julia

    What do I do if I had to reboot my phone but now it’s saying SIM card not recognized and will not even go anywhere past the language preference while trying to set it up?

  33. marissa

    what does it mean if your android will only turn on but will not go to your home screen and will only say you need a SIM card or to contact your service carrier?

  34. Roger The Dodger

    Tried this on my Hero 2000+ Android 4.0 fake iPhone 5 and it works a treat. I thought it was broken but this really works Cheers

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