How To Reset Your Android If You've Lost It Or If It Won't Turn On

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If you’ve ever lost or had damaged software on an Android tablet or smartphone, you’ll know that one of the first questions is often, “how do I reset the device and protect my data?” A standard wipe, easy as that would be, isn’t going to work. And, in the modern world, that’s a serious question. Data privacy is important and devices contain a lot of data. Everything from banking information to credentials and personal details about age, sex, birth date, location, and more, in fact.

Of course, it’s equally important to wipe a device to regain access, in cases where the software has had an issue. Smartphones are expensive and that investment is lost if some small glitch has rendered the device useless.

Well, that’s exactly what this guide hopes to address. While there are simply too many OEMs and Android variations to promise it will solve your problem, it should address just those issues for most.

Here’s how to reset your phone if it won’t boot up

Now, there’s nothing to be done, necessarily, if your smartphone or tablet won’t even load up its start screen. If your Android is bricked, finding a “how” to perform a reset is likely out of the question. At least that’s the case in most instances. So, at that point, it’s a good idea to call or otherwise contact the manufacturer.


Conversely, maybe you can get the phone to turn on. Or at least get it past the initial boot screen. But it isn’t working properly and/or won’t stay functional for long enough to get to the reset menu. In that case, this method for how to reset your Android phone could prove useful. Although it’s worth noting that, as with any other full reset method, this will wipe any and all data on the device too. And, of course, that you’ll need to reset your Android with the second method on this guide for a lost device.

  1. With your smartphone or tablet powered down, you’ll first need to get to the Recovery Mode menu. There are several ways to accomplish that and the method that will work for you will likely be OEM-independent. At least for some handset or tablet manufacturers. But the most common methods are as follows;
    1. Press and hold the power button and the volume down button simultaneously, releasing the buttons once the boot animation has played
    2. Press and hold the power button and the volume up button simultaneously, releasing the buttons once the boot animation has played
    3. Hold down the volume down, up, and power button simultaneously until the boot animation has played
  2. Once in recovery mode, your Android device will display an array of options. Among those will be an option to “factory reset” and/or “wipe data” — or something similar. Your touchscreen will no longer be active at this point. So you’ll need to utilize your volume up and down keys to select that option. Android highlights the selected option by giving it a highlighted background
  3. Select the appropriate option by pressing the power key
  4. Confirm your selection, when confirmation is requested, again using your power and volume keys to make your selection
  5. Your phone will restart, potentially restarting more than once as the system deletes data and restores the phone to factory settings
  6. The phone will now be ready to set up again
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01 2 how to reset lost android DG AH 2021

Here’s what to do if you’ve lost your Android device and need to factory reset it

Now, this method for securing your device is fairly straightforward. But it can, in some cases, require that you’ve got an app installed on the Android device that’s been lost, in order to initiate a reset. Namely, if that’s via a third-party app of some kind. It will, unfortunately, also require that the phone is on. This is, in part, why this method only works for missing smartphones or tablets rather than those that can’t turn on.

For this example, we’ll make use of Find My Device, as opposed to third-party software. As that’s the method that will be most prevalent among users. If you’re using a third-party antivirus or other security software that comes with a device-wiping feature, access that account and follow those instructions instead.

  1. This method will work the same regardless of whether it’s accessed on a smartphone or computer. Our example images use a smartphone and the Find My Device app from Google. But it can also be accessed via a Google search — if you’re signed in to Chrome — for “Find My Device” or by navigating to the URL, “https://www.google.com/android/find”
  2. Once logged into the app or tool, Google will display a list of devices associated with your account. If your device is turned off, it won’t be reachable. So you’ll need to wait until somebody finds it and powers it on or until it has a connection again. Select the device you’d like to reset
  3. There are now two steps you can take, the first is to secure your device and hope whoever finds it reads the message and returns your phone. The second is to completely reset it. In either case, the steps below will help
    1. To secure your device, first, select the “Secure device” option. From here, you can enter a message for the lock screen, in case somebody finds the phone. You can also enter a phone number for its finder to call. Both parts of the message will appear on the lock screen. Then, tap the “Secure” button at the bottom of the UI
    2. To wipe the device, first, select the “Erase Device” option. The tool will inform you that erasing is permanent. All data will be wiped and it will be returned to factory settings. Additionally, if the phone is offline, it will start resetting once it’s powered on. Tap the “ERASE DEVICE” button at the bottom of the UI. Then, if required, enter your Google credentials once again to verify your decision
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