2

I've been an android user for many years and so far I've been lucky enough not to need to have a phone repaired by a shop, so I'd never considered this problem until recently. I had to give my Galaxy S8 to a shop for repair. Since it's running Android 9.0 I thought I could use guest mode to keep my info private, but it turns out Samsung disables multiple accounts on the Galaxy. (WHY?!)

This is like handing the keys to the castle to a complete stranger. Having my phone with the lock screen unprotected is as good as having full access to my email accounts, my Google Drive repository, my social media accounts, and another dozen other apps with private data. Disabling them all and then reenabling them later would take almost as much time as just doing a factory reset and restore later.

Is there a reasonably simple way to give my phone to a repair person and have my data remain secure?

| improve this question | | | | |
  • 1
    That's why power users prefer rooting their Android devices which gives flexible options when it comes to backup and restore. There are non-root backup options too, though not that robust. You may start from this: android.stackexchange.com/q/28296/218526. When handing over phones for service, a factory reset must be the minimum step. You must make sure even your deleted data isn't recoverable, put their privacy statements aside. – Irfan Latif Sep 30 '19 at 5:19
  • You have to delete the data (take backup as Irfan mentioned, but know that not all the apps can be backed up). If you cannot use multiple user accounts than falling back to primary account is your only option. At some point the technician might want to check MTP and whatnot as well thereby compromising the privacy of your data. Unrooted users really can't do much. Although one thing comes to my mind. You may try a kiosk app (look into Play Store) and see if the apps/functionalities the technician needs can be whitelisted without compromising your privacy. – Firelord Sep 30 '19 at 5:29
  • You may further want to try an applock app too if you cannot afford factory reset. Do know that MTP/PTP might still remain accessible so if it is best to move them out of the phone to your PC since they can be moved back in toto once you receive the device. – Firelord Sep 30 '19 at 5:35
  • 1
    Doing a factory reset and full storage clean is the way to go here. Service will not fiddle with kiosk apps or the like. To my experience, they wipe your device anyway – so make a good backup and wipe it yourself. Don't forget (to backup and wipe) your internal SD card – and simply keep the external with you. See: How to make a complete factory reset, without anyone being able to retrieve my data? – Izzy Sep 30 '19 at 7:15
  • 1
    @CareyGregory done, with added details. Good luck with the repair! – Izzy Oct 2 '19 at 5:34
3

Doing a factory reset and full storage clean is the way to go here. Service will not fiddle with kiosk apps or the like. To my experience, they wipe your device anyway – so make a good backup and wipe it yourself.

Don't forget (to backup and wipe) your internal SD card – and simply keep the external with you.

For details on how to achieve that, please see: How to make a complete factory reset, without anyone being able to retrieve my data – asks for a different reason (selling a device), but with the same goal (protecting (or rather completely wiping) your personal data which resides on the device). And while the answer there gives detailed background, here come some points for the doing:

  • backup whatever you need (and can be backed up)
  • if you've got an external SD card, simply take it out and keep it. What they don't have they cannot look at.
  • as you want all data on internal storage gone, just wipe that completely. Easiest way for that probably is:
    1. remove any Google Account you might have configured, to avoid tripping FRP
    2. perform a factory reset, then
    3. turn on full device encryption. Let it encrypt the entire device.
    4. optionally, copy some files to it
    5. perform another factory-reset, turning device encryption off

By toggling device encryption on and off again, the entire storage should be overwritten (without you requiring root permissions to do so explicitly). This makes data recovery very hard – actually, nearly impossible; though Forensics might have their ways, that would be far too expensive for someone simply curious unless that someone knows there's something of value to be found.

PS: All that of course assumes you are still able to perform those steps. If e.g. the device no longer turns on at all, chances are rather low to achieve any of those details.

| improve this answer | | | | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.