Safe Mode can help you resolve Android issues, but sometimes you need to erase everything and restore your device to factory condition. But if you can not perform a normal factory reset – say that if your phone will not start up properly – you can restore the environment through Android.

Make sure that any important data is backed up before performing a reset. This includes your Google Authenticator credentials, which will be lost during the reset. Disable the two-factor authentication feature for your account or you’ll have trouble.

If Safe Mode does not help to resolve your device, you can perform a hard reset by booting to a special recovery mode. First, make sure your device is completely turned off.

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

  • Nexus 7: Volume up + Volume down + Power
  • Samsung Galaxy S3: volume increase + home + power
  • Motorola Droid X: Home + Power
  • Camera button device: Increase volume + camera

A similar device will likely use a similar key combination. For example, the Nexus 4 also uses Volume Up + Volume Down + Power.

If your device is not in this list and the above methods are not working, search Google for device names and “recovery mode” – or see the device manuals or support pages.

Release the button when the device is powered up. You will see an Android image lying on its back, its chest open and its interior revealed.

android-boot-menu

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

recovery-mode-option

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

android-recovery-mode

Press and hold the power button, and then tap Volume up. You’ll see the Android system recovery menu at the top of the screen.

android-system-recovery-menu

Use the volume keys to select Erase Data / Restore Factory Settings, and then click the Power button to activate it.

Select Yes – use the volume buttons to delete all user data, and then tap Power. Your device will be reset to factory condition and all data will be erased.

android-wipe-data-factory-reset

If your device freezes at any time, press and hold the power button until it restarts.

If your factory reset process does not resolve your issue or does not solve the problem at all, your hardware might be experiencing problems. If it is still under warranty, you should fix or replace it.

(With one exception: if you’ve been flashing custom ROMs and messing with the low-level software on your device, you may have covered the inventory recovery software, in which case you may have a software problem, not a hardware problem. )