Mobility

How to perform a factory reset on the Samsung Galaxy S5

Learn the details involved with performing a factory reset on a Galaxy S5 phone.

I recently wrote about some battery issues with my Samsung Galaxy S5 after I updated the operating system to Android 5.0 (Lollipop). The battery life was severely impacted after the update and so I cleared my cache partition (steps in the link above) with good results.

Unfortunately, the battery situation still wasn't what I called great, and some days were better than others. For example, my phone would be drained to 40% capacity at the end of one day and 19% on the next. I'm Takeaway: Learn the details involved with performing a factory reset on a Galaxy S5 phone.

Assuming this is because the cache partition starts accumulating crud again, causing the problem to return.

Therefore, I sought a more permanent fix: the factory reset, often the last hope for malfunctioning Android devices. It wipes all your data, applications and settings and returns your device to its original "out of the box" condition. This can clear up an array of problems - but can also cause some headaches getting everything back the way you like it. Here's how I handled it.

Preparing for the factory reset

First I checked to make sure my phone was backing up my data automatically. To do this I went to Settings:

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Image: Scott Matteson

I chose "Backup and reset":

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Image: Scott Matteson

This confirmed that my data is being backed up to my Gmail account.

Juuuuuust to be safe (stranger things have happened than backups or restores not working right) I also made sure that any critical information on my phone was copied elsewhere. I use Dropbox's Camera Upload feature so pictures are automatically synchronized with my Dropbox account behind the scene (and I double-checked that), but I had a few documents and text messages with information I needed to save, which I did.

Performing the reset

I went back to that "Backup and reset" screen and tapped "Factory data reset":

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Image: Scott Matteson

This showed me all the accounts I had on the device; a good reminder of what needs to be set up again later (reinstalling the apps isn't necessary since the backup/reset process takes care of that, but they do need to be logged into again).

I then tapped "Reset Device." The Galaxy erased itself and rebooted in pristine condition.

Putting everything back in order

I got on my home Wi-Fi network on the phone then logged into my Google account and was prompted to restore my data and settings. I proceeded and all of my apps came back. The phone wasn't quite exactly the way it had been before the reset, however. I had to perform these housekeeping steps:

  • I configured my notifications (For instance, I use special ring tone for my wife and a repeat alert every 2 minutes for text messages), display settings and wallpaper.
  • I recreated the folders I use to store app icons, then rearranged my icons based on my preferences.
  • Logged into my various app accounts such as Dropbox, Facebook and Twitter.
  • I set up my two email accounts (work and personal).
  • I installed Volume Boost which vastly improves the sound quality of the Samsung Galaxy S5 when using it as a speakerphone.
  • I reinstalled my VPN "soft token" for work, which allows me to authenticate to my company's VPN for remote access.
  • I relinked the phone to my car via Bluetooth.

Oh, and probably my younger son lost all his progress in "The Simpsons: Tapped Out" which I keep on my phone for his sake, but he hasn't complained yet.

All in all, the above steps represented about 15-20 minutes of work; no biggie.

The Verdict

The original battery consumption on my phone before I cleared my cache partition was as follows throughout the day:

Time Battery Capacity

10:22 am 87%

6:45 pm 47%

10:22 pm 29%

Here's how it looked after the factory reset:

Time Battery Capacity

10:22 am 87%

6:45 pm 64%

10:22 pm 54%

That's definitely an improvement, but it may just be due to the fact the factory reset wipes the cache partition anyhow. I suspect those numbers will start creeping back down as the days go by, but at least this is a good start. Although I'd like to see my phone with at least 60% capacity by the end of the day, I'm aware that extended battery may simply be the only solution in today's power-hungry mobility world.

I'm glad I conducted the factory reset so I could see the results first-hand and also document the steps involved. It wasn't as fearsome a chore as I had expected, so hopefully these details will come in handy for you as well if you're experiencing Android issues. I'll post a comment in the next couple of weeks to report on the battery situation.

See also:

Get back that new car smell with your Google device

Pro tip: How to unroot your Android device so you can update

Better batteries ahead mean big changes for mobility

Speed up file operations on your Samsung Galaxy

About Scott Matteson

Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.

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