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How To Hard Factory Reset the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Posted by William Sattelberg on May 23, 2017

For most users, a factory reset is a last-ditch effort to fix problems with their phones. After all, a total factory reset means having to reinstall apps and restore settings as they were, which can take quite a bit of time. Still, you might want to consider a factory reset if your phone is having problems. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and s7 edge are both great phones, but they aren’t without the typical flaws of Android. Like any phone, you might find your Galaxy S7 is running a bit slow, especially after a year of heavy usage, tons of app installations, and major updates, like the upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat. Software issues can pop up on your phone for all sorts of reasons, causing slow performance, poor battery life, or app crashes. Luckily, a factory reset might just be the solution to all your problems. Likewise, if you’re looking to sell or trade-in your Galaxy S7 for a new phone—say, a Galaxy S8—you’ll want to reset your phone to clear any user data that may be compromising in some way.

No matter your reason for looking to factory reset your phone, it’s quite the simple process on Samsung’s flagship line. This guide will take you through all the steps necessary for a reset, from backing up your apps and data to actually resetting the device. So grab your phone, make sure it’s charged or plugged in, and let’s get started.

Before the Reset

Before you reset your S7, you’ll want to make sure your phone is backed up, using your preferred backup service. We’ve previously published an in-depth guide to backing up your S7, which you can read here, but here’s the short of it: you have a few options for backing up your phone, depending on what carrier you’re on. If you’re on any carrier but Verizon, you can use Samsung’s own Cloud service to backup your apps, photos, videos, calendar appointments, and so much more. Samsung Cloud works really well, and offers 15GB of free storage for all of your data. If you’re running a Verizon Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, unfortunately, Verizon has blocked Samsung’s Cloud app and foregone it for their own service, Verizon Cloud. In our testing, we found Verizon Cloud to be a poor substitute for Samsung’s own service; it only offered 5GB of free storage, and it’s pricing was more expensive than its competitors.

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Instead, for Verizon users, we recommend backing up your data with a few services offered on the Play Store. For most of your Android-specific data, Google Drive‘s backup service worked great, offering 15GB of free storage and additional space available for a much-cheaper plan than Verizon’s own competing Cloud app. Drive will backup your system settings, WiFi passwords, contacts, app installations, and more. For what Drive doesn’t cover—primarily photos, videos, and text messages—we recommend using Google Photos, which backs up slightly-compressed versions of your photos and videos for free, or original-resolution copies within your 15GB Google Drive allocation, and SMS Backup and Restore for your SMS and MMS needs, which also syncs within Google Drive.

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If you’re using a third-party launcher for your home screen, such as Nova or Action Launcher 3, you should backup your home screen layout within those apps in order to restore your pinned apps and widgets following the factory reset. If you use any other apps that keep local data, like note or planner applications, you’ll want to look under their individual settings to check if the app has a way to export or save your data, either to the cloud or to a local file. Also remember to check your Downloads and Documents folders to view if there are any important files saved that may require later viewing.

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Finally, a note for those using an SD card in their Galaxy S7: factory resetting your phone doesn’t clear anything off your SD card, making it a great place to store files you might need access to later.

Factory Resetting Your Phone Through Settings

Once you’ve made sure the contents of your phone are either secure on another device or backed up on the cloud, it’s time to reset your phone. You’ll want to make sure you set aside a block of time where you won’t need to access your phone, and also make sure the battery is either charged or your phone is plugged into the wall. Though the factory reset itself won’t take too long, it does use a large amount of your phone’s energy, and the last thing you want is your phone dying in the middle of a reset. That’ll run the risk of bricking the device beyond repair.

Dive into your phone’s settings, either by using the shortcut in your notification tray or by opening the app through the app drawer. If your settings are viewed as a standard list (pictured left), scroll down to “Personal” settings and select “Backup and Reset.” You can also find this menu by searching “Reset” inside the Settings’ search function. If your settings are viewed as a simplified list (pictured center and right), scroll down to the “General management” tab, open it, and select “Reset.”

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Once you’re in this menu, you’ll see three options under “Reset”: reset settings, reset network settings, and factory data reset. What we’re looking for here is “Factory data reset,” though it might be worth looking at the other two options if you’re having problems with your phone. The first option, “Reset settings,” will simply reset your phone’s settings to their default state, while retaining the entirety of your apps, data, and storage. The second option, “Reset network settings,” will clear all network settings on the phone—including WiFi, Bluetooth, and other settings like mobile data—to their original function. If you’re having problems using Bluetooth headphones or receiving mobile data, you may want to try this setting first. If you’ve exhausted both of these options, your next-best bet is to use the factory data reset.

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The next page will display a list of files, data, and accounts that will be deleted from your phone. The list is fairly detailed, but it basically breaks down to this: if it’s on your phone, it won’t be there after. Your S7 also gives you the option to format your SD card, if you’d like. Just remember that formatting your SD card means everything will be erased from it as well; if you don’t want this option, or you’ve left some important files saved on the card, it’s best to leave this unchecked.

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So, if you’ve made sure your entire phone is backed up, you’ve removed and stored any important files on a separate computer or SD card, and your phone is charged or plugged in, hit that big blue “Reset” button to begin the process. As a security measure, you may be asked for your password or pin to continue the process. All together, the entire resetting process shouldn’t take much longer than about half an hour, though if your phone does, don’t stress too much. Just let the phone do its thing. Once the process is complete, the phone will begin to reboot, though this boot may take much longer than a typical startup. Again, this is perfectly normal. Let the phone sit until it reaches the “Welcome!” display. Once you’ve reached this screen, you can either re-setup your phone, or you can power down the phone to be sold or traded in, with the secure feeling that your accounts and information have been removed from the device.

Factory Reset Through Recovery Mode

Though the above steps should work for most users, some may find their Galaxy S7 or S7 edge is in a state where the phone can’t be powered on or navigated into the settings menu. For those users, you might want to consider using Recovery Mode to reset your phone. Accessing Recovery Mode is a fairly simple process if you know what you’re doing. First, if it isn’t, ensure your phone is powered off before pressing and holding the Volume Up, Power, and Home buttons all at the same time. Hold these buttons until you see “Recovery Booting” display at the top of the screen. Your phone will light up with a large, white Android icon on a blue background, and the phone will read “Installing system update” for several seconds. You can let go of the buttons once you see this display. Eventually, you’ll see a yellow caution symbol, an unconscious-looking Android guy, and the phrase “No command” appear on your screen. Don’t panic—this is normal.

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After another twenty seconds or so, your phone should switch to a black display, with yellow, blue, and white text scattered among the screen. This is the Android Recovery menu, and it’s typically used for development purposes. Most of the menu options here can be ignored, but the major one we’re looking for is five down from the top: “Wipe data/factory reset.” Unlike most smartphone functions, you control this menu with your volume keys. Use the Volume Down key to scroll down to this menu. Before you select this option, red text will appear on your display, warning you that the Google account associated with your Galaxy S7 may need to be reentered upon reboot to use the phone. This is a security measure, much like the password and pin option detailed above, preventing thieves from factory resetting your phone for resale.

To select the option, press your Power key while “Wipe data/factory reset” is selected. You’ll receive an additional prompt, asking you to confirm. Use the volume keys again to navigate to “Yes” and hit the Power button again; from here, your phone will begin resetting as it would have if you had activated a reset from inside settings.

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Once your phone is back to normal use, you’ll want to begin the process of restoring your backed up settings and options. If you used Google Drive as your backup application, you can restore your installed apps from Google’s startup screen; if you used Samsung or Verizon Cloud, you’ll have to login to those respective services with your email address and enable a restore. If you use a third-party launcher, once it’s been reinstalled onto your device, you’ll be able to reinstate your home screen layouts and display settings. In my personal experience, re-setup on a phone can take as much as two or three hours of your time to get everything back to working order, but once you’ve done so, you should find that any problems or bugs you may have been experiencing previously have been ironed out and fixed. If you suspect a rogue app was causing the problems, slowly reinstall your apps one by one to check for bugs and slowdown. After a few days, your phone should be back to normal, more or less.

Let us know in the comments below if you’re experiencing any problems we didn’t cover in the guide above, and we’ll help you out the best we can!

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