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My phone has got some error and I am returning it to the service center. As my phone contains my personal data, images and videos I would like to erase them so that they can never be recovered (even after being rooted).

Is there any easy way to do that because I am not an Android developer.

Does factory reset do this trick for me?

  • What is the make and model of your phone? – Niall C. Nov 11 '13 at 19:52
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As John states in his answer, a is sufficient in most cases. I doubt a service technician would take the effort required to restore the data from your storage – though it's definitely possible.

What John had in mind, however, is true: If flash storage is really wiped, all data is gone from it. It would take a highly specialized forensics expert a long time to restore at least a part of it. So unless you have the secret formula for a longevity serum stored on your device, and your service technician knows that, it's definitly not worth the trouble.

If you want to be on the absolute safe side, take a look at Nuke My Phone resp. Nuke My Tablet. These tools do not simply delete your data or wipe the storage once, but they overwrite it multiple times, then wiping it, and then finalize their work by a factory-reset. I very much doubt that a single file would be restorable after that procedure.

Btw: Always think of your external SDcard, which might not be covered by the procedure. You should better remove that and keep it with you; the service techs don't need it anyway.

  • +1 thanks for the answer. I don't have any nuclear bomb plan on my phone :) .. I usually take scan of all my documents and of course my family pics. – Zerotoinfinity Nov 12 '13 at 17:14
  • Glad to see it solved your issue! As for your "nuclear bomb plan", I was just scanning my answer for my usual fly-joke ("sure you can kill a fly with atomics...") – took me a few secs to make the connection to "Nuke My Phone" :D Good luck for your device getting serviced! – Izzy Nov 12 '13 at 17:44
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Unlike standard hard drives, once flash storage is erased, it is gone. All Android devices (at least to my knowledge) should have flash storage. If you delete something, it would be next to impossible to recover it.

A factory reset will erase all of your user data unless the device is rooted and you stored it somewhere else. If the device is running stock firmware and you do a factory reset, you should be good to go!

Note:

It is possible that your device will not do a secure erase of your personal data. If you want to be absolutely sure that the data cannot be recovered, you should make sure to do a secure erase. After a simple secure erase (writing over the data with all 0's) the data should be gone forever.

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    Not 100% correct, John: a forensics expert for sure can retrieve data from a factory-reset device. – Izzy Nov 11 '13 at 20:18
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    Oh: And as for longevity of the storage, "if you delete something" it will only be marked as deleted. Blocks are not "re-formatted" before they are really needed, as such a "re-format" can only be applied to larger "chunks", not to single "blocks". Thus it is really easy to recover a single deleted file: you just need to scan the "unused blocks". This technique is called File Carving (see also File Carving @ Forensics Wiki). However, a factory-reset should wipe (re-format), and thus be pretty safe. – Izzy Nov 11 '13 at 21:26
  • Yes but if you do a secure erase, then the data is gone forever. Writing over the data with all 0's will completely erase flash storage, correct? – John Nov 12 '13 at 22:36
  • 100% correct, yes. It's a little "safety versus longevity", but one usually doesn't do that on a daily base. So this might be a good idea when e.g. selling the device. I don't think such a "complete wipe" is really needed when giving the device for service (a factory-reset should be sufficient then), but as that's neither done as "daily routine", it's at least an option to consider with sensitive data stored on it. (Excuse the hair splitting: flash memory usually is overwritten with 1's when wiping (or "resetting/erasing chunks"), not with 0's as on "hard disks".) – Izzy Nov 12 '13 at 23:42
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yes. going into recovery, (normally by booting your phone while holding volume up and power button) should do the trick. while in recovery, you should see something like factory reset. use your volume rockers to go down the menu until that option is highlighted, then press the power button to select it. hope this helps --Daniel

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