how to erase the internal storage on your android

When you’re ready to rid yourself of that old Android device for a new one, perhaps to sell or give away, the person inheriting the device isn’t going to want your old files; it’s time to erase the internal storage.

Many of the methods can be referred to as “going nuclear” because when you use any of the methods listed below, everything on your Android device will be completely gone, not a single trace left behind.

Before You Erase the Internal Storage

Before you make the decision to go nuclear, you’re going to want to backup any files you’d like to keep, like pictures, videos and app data. Android devices are linked to your Google account and, if your files were synced on a regular basis, you should have a complete copy of your old Android device’s pictures, videos and app data.

Again, every single file will be completely removed. It’ll be as if you just brought the Android device home from the store. If this is a concern, it is highly recommended that you backup your files.

Erase Internal Storage through Factory Resetting

Factory resetting a phone is another way of saying “it’s almost new.” When you factory reset an Android device, every file that was housed on your internal storage will be completely wiped, purged, gone, poof.

It’ll be almost new, as if you just brought it home for the first time. Factory resetting is done through the Settings menu and a good choice if you can still access your Android device.

1. Locate and launch the Settings app. Its icon is a gear. To find it, look on one of your home screens for it. If you’re having trouble locating, look inside your App Drawer.

You can open the Settings app through your notification shade, the bar at the top that displays your time, battery life and notifications.

By tapping it, or tapping and swiping down, you can reveal your notification shade as well as your Quick Settings Menu. Among the notification shade is the same gear icon that represents the Settings app.

backup & reset

2. In Settings, scroll down until you find Backup & reset. Select it.

Factory data reset

3. In Backup & reset, head down to the bottom (you may have to scroll) and find Factory data reset. Go ahead and select it.

reset data

4. Read the warning presented to you. It will give you a summary of what factory resetting does to your Android device. If you agree with the process, tap RESET PHONE.

You may have to provide a password to continue with the process.

Erase Internal Storage through Recovery Menu

Using the Recovery menu to erase your internal storage is identical in nature to a factory reset. However, oftentimes you can’t boot your Android device to even use factory reset.

That’s where the Recovery Menu comes in. By booting into the Recovery Menu, you can make a few changes to your Android device without booting it like normal, like erasing the internal storage.

1. Hold the Power button for a brief moment until a menu appears.

2. In the window, select Power Off or Shutdown. It varies between Android manufacturers. Give the Android device at least two minutes to shut down completely and end all processes before moving on with the next step.

3. By pressing and holding the Power button and one of the Volume buttons, usually Volume Up, after a few moments of holding them together, the device should boot into the Recovery Menu.

Use a search engine to find the right button combination. Different manufacturers have different button combinations.

4. While you’re in the Recovery Menu, use the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons to navigate up and down in the menu. There aren’t any menu options to the left and right, it’s strictly up and down. Navigate to Wipe Data/Factory Reset.

5. By using the Power button, you can select Wipe Data/Factory Reset. Go ahead and do so.

6. When prompted to continue with the factory reset, use the Power button again to select Yes. It will take some time for your Android device to completely purge the internal storage of its files.

Once the factory reset has been completed, you are free to give it away, donate or even sell it. All of your data has been completely removed and they won’t find any.

Erase Internal Storage through Formatting

Depending on your Android device, you have the option to expand your internal storage with the use of an SD card. The internal storage cannot be removed, but the SD card can.

In this case, you have an SD card in addition to your internal storage and would like to wipe it clean. Formatting a device, in this context, is nearly identical to factory resetting, however, this method targets the SD card rather than the internal storage.

1. Locate and launch the Settings app. Its icon is a gear. To find it, look on one of your home screens for it. If you’re having trouble locating, look inside your App Drawer.

You can open the Settings app through your notification shade, the bar at the top that displays your time, battery life and notifications.

By tapping it, or tapping and swiping down, you can reveal your notification shade as well as your Quick Settings Menu. Among the notification shade is the same gear icon that represents the Settings app.

2. Locate Storage in your settings and select it.

3. With an SD card mounted, you’ll see two separate storage hard drives: your SD card and your phone’s internal storage. You’ll also see additional options that appear when an SD card is mounted: Erase SD card. Select it.

4. If you’re sure you want to erase the files on your SD card, select Confirm.

My SD Card Isn’t Listed

You may have noticed, depending on your device, that an SD card was not listed amongst your hard drives. This is because some Android devices actually combine its internal storage with that of the SD card.

In order to “separate” the two, you’ll need to establish a connection with your computer and Android device, and format the SD card that way.

1. Plug your Android device into your computer with the use of its compatible USB cord.

media device MTP

2. When prompted by ‘Connect to PC,’ choose Media device (MTP).

Sometimes ‘Connect to PC’ doesn’t appear. Tap your taskbar at the top, where your clock it, to expand your Quick Settings Menu. You’ll see a notification labeled USB for file transfer or Transferring media files via USB. Select either one that pertains to you.

3. Open Windows Startup.

This PC

4. Type anywhere in the menu ‘This PC’ and launch the app that appears.

Devices and drives

5. Under ‘Devices and drives,’ if your Android device was connected properly, double-click your device.

Phone

6. From here, you should see your internal storage and your SD card separated. You can delete the contents of your SD card now.

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