Factory reset costs a lot of time - should we just accept this?

After more than 3 years in operation, my FP3 became slow, so during the Christmas holidays, I decided to do a factory reset. This worked out quite well, the phone feels like new.

However, I’m quite surprised how lengthy (sometimes painful) the process is.

In this forum, you quite regularly read about people resetting their phone, just like it’s an easy thing to do. I’m surprised how many unexpected hoops you have to jump through and how limited the available information is. I start to think that I have missed out on some easy way to handle a factory reset - does any one of you have better procedures available than the one I followed?

Below, I share my experiences. Please note, I’m not complaining! It’s mostly my surprise that there’s so little information and guidance for these procedures available anywhere, but most of all, I’m surprised that restoring apps that worked just fine before the reset, can be so hard.

I’m on standard Android, and I (somewhat grudgingly) make use of the Google ecosystem, so I guess I’m with the majority of FP users, or at least a large group. My procedure was as follows, I think it’s a fairly regular and straightforward one:

  • Backup all individual files (mostly my ‘downloads’ folder where such files usually end up) to a computer
  • Backup the Android system through Settings
  • Backup Whatsapp messages onto a cloud service
  • Backup the (Microsoft) Authenticator info to a cloud service
  • Reset the phone

Now, after resetting and restarting, the standard flow (and messages) assume that you have an old phone at hand that still contains your information and that is able to receive authenticator requests or text messages. The procedure does not acknowledge the situation that your ‘old’ phone is in fact also your ‘new’ phone. (This tells a lot about the industry’s basic assumptions.)

For instance, when connecting to Google, a username+password is not enough, there’s of course multifactor, and it offers to confirm your login through an authenticator (no, that app is not yet available), a text message to your phone (no, my phone is still in the first startup mode, although on second thoughts, it could very well be that it is already has the possibility to receive text messages), a landline call, or a one-time login code (which I happened to have!).

After the restoration of apps, it’s completely unpredictable how much information you need when you want to start using that app again. Most of the times, when the app uses an account, just logging in again will get you going. A password manager (I used Keepass) greatly helps here.

However, there’s the more ‘official’ apps (banks, government) that require you to scan your ID.

The Authenticator app was a particularly complex one; the option to restore your backup from the cloud was quite inconspicuous somewhere at the bottom of the screen. After restoration, quite a few of the accounts that I used to have (to access Sharepoint sites) were disabled and I had to ‘scan the QR code that I had received when I was granted access’. Well, I did not have those QR codes, never had them. Anyway, that’s Microsoft, I guess.

I have not yet restarted and tested all my apps yet (there’s more than 70, which I don’t think is that much) so there may be some surprises left. However, when using your phone, you find that some data is magically retained but other data is lost.

Positive surprises

  • total free storage greatly increased
  • OSMAndroid had already downloaded all maps during restoration
  • the Keep Notes app retained all notes (had forgot to backup, however it’s connected to the Google ecosystem, so yeah)
  • many Android settings were retained

Negative surprises

  • One app had become extinct and could not be downloaded anymore (including the data…)
  • Bluetooth pairings were gone (look up manuals of all devices again to find out how pairing went)
  • I had to reconfigure all mail accounts (except of course Gmail), looking for the imap/smtp addresses and port numbers
  • Signal chats were all gone (stupid, should have backed them up as well)
  • shortcuts on the screen had to be re-configured
  • some Android settings were not retained: eg, standard browser, trust agents, finger prints, network name in status bar, …

Anyway, all of this has kept me busy for some 4 hours in total - I cannot recall from the previous time that I installed a new phone how much time it had cost me at that time.

Now, I’m really curious, is this normal? Are there tricks? Did I miss something? Is this just how ‘the industry’ works?

I think resetting a phone should be much easier - it’s good for phone longevity because the performance boost that you gain from it will prevent you buying a new phone.


thanks for sharing your experience
whenever I did re-install windows on any of my computers it was always a paintaking lengthy process of re-installing all the apps, programmes and going through the settings and data
it seems to me - though my memory is far from being impeccable - it was easier with the phone(s)

my steps:

  1. backup pictures and all the files manually via the cable
  2. backup texts and calls via SMSrestore app and upload to the cloud
  3. (usually forget) backup any apps that have relevant data
  4. reset the phone

After the reset, I usually stop myself from reinstalling all the apps, nor do I use Google backup, wait a bit/a few days perhaps to see which apps I really use thus need

I guess my main difference might be the amount of apps I use that require authentications plus I have never used Google backup


IMO that’s exactly the point of resetting your phone. If instead all apps were to keep their data and settings, not much would change, would it?

You can also look at it from a different angle: Many apps these days can make backups automatically, or can be configured to store their data in the cloud. Years ago, we would have had to backup and restore all email, photos, documents and what not manually. This took much more time. I’m not saying things can’t be improved (I’m looking at you, Signal) but restoring stuff is certainly easier than it used to be.


That’s indeed a consideration, but a ‘clean install’, for both OS and apps, usually already has quite some benefits.
Some apps have such complicated settings though that a ‘clean configuration’ would indeed be needed to solve performance issues.

As you say, apps that store their data and settings in the cloud already make things much easier - but still, they all do it differently, and some do not retain all their settings which still causes a lot of manual work.

We probably have to live with it. As someone wrote, “your smartphone had become a personal room where you can withdraw”, and moving from one room to another is also quite a project.

  1. backup pictures and all the files manually via the cable

Is there a step by step description on how to do this ? I never managed accessing data on my FP3 via cable from my Win10 computer.

I think it has been discussed several times in this forum. Usually I just plug in the USB cable and choose the option of files transfer on my mobile. I am on stock android FP 5 (android 13) and windows 10 but it has been the same with all my devices.

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I can completely agree that a factory reset is certainly no fun activity. That’s why I’m usually cautious to suggest it to people. Especially if you’re not aware of the implications in terms of time and possibly lost data or required backups, that can be even more frustrating. Sometimes it’s the only option, unfortunately.

As for improving the “reset/restore” experience:

If you’re OK with giving all your data to Google (which I don’t do either), then the process is usually relatively easy from what I observed so far:
You “simply” enter your Google account data into the reset phone and it should offer to download and restore almost everything down to app data and WiFi configuration - remember that 2FA Google login, though!
There are always some things that live on the phone exclusively and cannot be back-upped. These include the mentioned Bluetooth pairings and fingerprints. So there’s no way around having to set this up again to my knowledge.

If you want to keep your data away from Google as much as possible, then you have to “pay” for that with extra work in one way or the other:
This means figuring out a way to backup all the data you can manually. Some apps don’t allow exports except to Google. In those cases you have to either live with the loss or find an alternative app, which is what I do.
Many apps also have auto-export or auto-backup settings that can be used to automate at least part of the process.
(Some things that Google can save won’t be available in this way, for example the WiFi configuration.)

Then you still have to take care of actually copying the data off the device, of course. There are multiple options:

  1. Manual transfer to a computer via USB or network regularly or when required
  2. Use of another cloud service, either self-hosted (OwnCloud/NextCloud) or commercial (OneDrive, etc.). The procedure to follow would be very similar to point 3 below.
  3. Some other sync solution - in my case that is SyncThing which is running on my phone and my home server. Every time I install an app that has stores data I want to keep, I try to set up auto-backup to a custom directory that I then include in my SyncThing configuration. Same goes for the pictures, which is actually already pre-configured. If apps don’t offer auto-backup and have rarely changing data, I try to remember to export manually whenever I enter something new/important.

Even though that takes care of the backups as well as I can manage, the restore is still a multi-hour effort to get all the apps installed, set up and data imported.

If you’re using 2FA, then it’s also very important to have either a backup authenticator or at least backup codes available when the need arises. I’d argue that you should always take care of that right away after setting up 2FA somewhere new anyway as your phone can become defective or get stolen at any time!



That’s why I switched to Bitwarden. I tried Google Authenticator (which at the time didn’t synchronize, and regardless, can’t be transferred between Google accounts) and I kept losing my Microsoft Authenticator TOTP keys because the synchronization feature is literally hidden during login. I did this manually, but Option to import from Microsoft Authenticator - #7 by danmullen - Password Manager - Bitwarden Community Forums might be easy enough for you if it’s of interest.

That’s a failure of the default FP ROM not including a backup manager. However, it’s also a fundamental flaw of AOSP not providing access (even user-permitted) to system APIs to non /system-installed applications. If you used something like CalyxOS, this wouldn’t be a problem. Try enabling debug mode in Developer Settings the next time you do this to ensure you can access as much as possible without root access.

Like MS Authenticator, this was always painful enough that I just switched to using WhatsApp through Beeper’s Matrix implementation at https://help.beeper.com/chat-networks/whatsapp. I think it actually works better, and is certainly easy to back up.

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This is an extremely important piece of advice! I had created some backup codes for my Google account almost out of curiosity, not expecting to ever need them, but indeed during the reset procedure it was a very handy (better: essential) thing to have at hand.

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