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tl;dr: What bad things will happen if I do a factory reset?


So I've had this original Droid for about a year and a half. I love this phone, and if only I could get it to be a bit faster and have a little more internal memory I'd keep it forever. However, it had been around for quite a while before I jumped on the Android bandwagon and it's getting pretty creaky in the joints. Further, my contract isn't up until next April.

Over that time I have installed and uninstalled a lot of applications (often to answer questions here or, more likely, from recommendations here). I have tried no fewer than five different home screen launcher apps.

I have streamlined the apps I'm using and moved everything possible to the SD card. Still, performance just isn't that good. I don't want to root (although I've considered it), but I need this thing to carry me for eight more months.

Could a factory reset possibly help? What is the downside to doing a factory reset?

I'm not concerned with losing anything important. Between the Market and AppBrain I have no fear that I won't be able to get key apps back. I also have all of my important data syncing to the cloud so I've no worries there.

Is there anything lost that I can't recover myself? For instance, am I going to have to go back to the Verizon store and have them reprogram my phone number? Is there any reason I shouldn't just go ahead and to the reset?


Update: So I took the plunge yesterday and everything worked out fine. I use Google 2-factor authentication, and that complicated things a little bit. Once I got past that it has been fine. I have quickly the discovered the apps I really need, and have been enjoying much "snappier" performance.

I'm just sorry that I can't accept multiple answers. These have all been very helpful.

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I'm a little hesitant to post this as an answer because I can't find any end-user documentation, but the Developer docs describe a "factory reset" as simply wiping the /data partition (see here). I believe this is also what the phone's "factory reset" option does, but again, I can't find a user's manual or anything that gives a specific definition. –  eldarerathis Aug 25 '11 at 18:18
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yes, eldarerathis, a factory reset will just wipe the /data and /data/data mount points. Any installed apps, the settings for them, and any user settings are stored there. besides settings and app data, really nothing else will be removed. –  Ryan Conrad Aug 25 '11 at 19:56
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4 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You'll be in the clear for the most part. I factory reset my Moto DROID v1 a few months back, and while it is a little scary to do a total wipe like that, you really have very little to lose. Like you say, you'll be able to redownload any app that you have previously purchased, and your contacts / e-mail should sync back up just fine. It is a little frightening to see the commissioning screen on first boot, but you'll get past that quickly. Like you, I had tried clearing out as much as I could and getting "lean", but I still saw a big performance boost after resetting.

One thing you will want to be certain to do is save any text or MMS messages that you have received to your SD card. These get stored in system memory by default and will be erased if you don't save them to the SD card first. You can save an image attached to a text by long pressing the image. You'll get a pop-up with the option to save it to your SD card.

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Call Logs are also not restored. If you want to keep those, you'll need a way to backup/restore them. –  afrazier Aug 26 '11 at 14:34
    
@afrazier: I use Google Voice exclusively, and it has its own logs. –  Al E. Jun 19 '12 at 14:49
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I had often done factory reset (sometimes unwillingly, because the beta ROM that I were using came crashing all the way through), I'd say the longer you have a working phone, the harder it is when you wiped them out.

You might not have noticed all the little tweaks you've done here and there in many apps that you will suddenly realize when you do a factory reset. Some of these tweaks may be obscure or difficult to reproduce, make sure you take note that you know how to redo all those tweaks.

Most of Google Apps data and Contacts is pretty much safely backed up to the cloud, but SMS/MMS is not (I still haven't figured out why Google haven't added SMS backup by default; although there are SMS sync apps that will backup your SMS to Gmail). Wifi passwords are wiped out and custom Wifi certificates as well, make sure you have them. Check all the applications you used regularly if they have settings backup; most home screen replacement apps have it and many other popular apps as well. Game history are pretty much out, except perhaps for online games, make sure you remember the logins for all of them (it's easy to forget them since you usually don't do login to your phone on the assumption that a phone is a personal, non-shared device).

If you have a large cache of email, contacts, and other synced stuffs and you don't have a large data plan, then make sure to do the syncing on Wifi.

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No worries on SMS. I use Google Voice exclusively. –  Al E. Aug 26 '11 at 16:32
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There's nothing to be afraid of.

i go through this, probably once every other month or so. The commenters are correct, a Factory Reset only erases the data on your device. It clears out all the memory and space back to what it had when it came out of the factory.

For example, if your phone is rooted, a factory reset will not change that. Simply deleting data.

i have found it a good way to clear out and start fresh. Although you may just restore your apps from the SD card or the cloud, they (and their sometimes erroneous data) are probably what was slowing down your phone in the first place.

After a factory reset, i reinstall apps as i go, only picking up what i really needed to begin with. After a while i get bogged down with games and Free Apps of the Day, and a data wipe is in the near future for me.

A Factory Reset would most likely be a good solution to your problem, and does NOT incur any significant or irreversible loss.

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  1. There is no risk to factory resetting your phone (other than it erasing everything you've installed, and your personal information). It won't mess with your SDcard if you have one.
  2. Factory resetting your phone will not speed it up anymore than you could do if you simply cleaned up apps on the system. Thinking that it can speed up is a misunderstanding of how the system works. Android runs all apps modularly. Which means that if you uninstall an app, it is 100% gone from the operating system (except perhaps cache, which over time will be 100% gone too when it gets over written by another app). To speed up the phone, I would perform these actions:

    • Go into settings>apps and disable/uninstall all undesired apps.
    • Go into settings>apps and clear the data and cache of all apps you don't use.
    • Delete all SMS/MMS
    • Delete the Call log
    • Delete the history of anything else that keeps long records
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