How to factory reset a Galaxy S8

Need a fresh start? Here's how to factory reset a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus

Given how complicated and unforgiving smartphones can be, it’s not surprising that installing an app by mistake, misplacing a file, or screwing up settings are all-too-common occurrences. That’s true even on Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which puts ease-of-use features first and foremost. But whether you’ve messed up your smartphone beyond the point of recognition or just want to get back to the no-frills, bare-bones configuration you had when you switched it on for the first time, there’s a solution: Factory resetting your phone.

Resetting a Galaxy S8 to factory default is a lot easier than you might think. The process will wipe your apps and files — including songs, videos, contacts, photos, and calendar info — but backup programs and Samsung’s cloud storage features make recovering them relatively easy. Alternatively, if you’re selling your Galaxy S8 and want to make sure personal information doesn’t make its way into a stranger’s hands, a factory reset is a great way to permanently delete your data.

Here’s how to backup and factory reset a Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. This will work on a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, as well.

Factory reset protection

Factory Reset Protection (FRP), a security measure Google introduced in Android 5.0 Lollipop, is designed to prevent thieves from wiping your device and using or selling it. But if you don’t disable it, then it can interfere with a factory reset.

When you reset a phone to factory default with FRP enabled, it’ll prompt you to enter the user name and password for the last Google account registered to the device. That’s good and fine if you’re the owner, but obviously problematic if you’ve sold it or given it to another person.

Here’s how to disable Factory Reset Protection on the Galaxy S8:

  • First, remove your Google account. Go to Settings > Cloud & accounts > Accounts and tap on Google. Then tap the three vertical dots in the upper right, or More > Remove account. Make sure to remove every Google account you see.
  • Next, you’ll have to remove your Samsung account. Head to Settings > Lock screen and security > Find My Mobile. Enter your password, tap on your account at the top, and select More > Remove account.

Now that you’ve disabled Factory Reset Protection, it’s a good idea to back up your apps and settings. Alternatively, you can skip straight to the factory reset process.

Backing up your data

How to back up apps

To back up the apps and games you’ve installed on your Galaxy S8, head to the Settings menu.

  • Tap Cloud and accounts, then Backup & restore.
  • Tap Back up my data, and choose whether or not you’d like to back up your account data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings to Google’s servers.

How to back up contacts

Saving your contacts to the cloud is just as easy as backing up your apps and settings.

  • Open the Settings menu, and then tap Cloud and accounts. 
  • Tap Accounts, and then select the account you’d like to sync.
  • Tap the three vertical dots in the top-right corner, and tap Sync now.

Your cloud-stored contacts should now be up to date.

How to back up media and pictures

Factory resetting your Galaxy S8 doesn’t have to mean losing your photos, videos, and other media. Here’s how to back everything up.

  • Tap the Samsung folder, and then tap My Files. 
  • Tap Internal storage.
  • Tap the three vertical dots icon, and then tap Share. Select the content you want to backup.
  • Tap Share, and select the location you want the content to be shared with.

Reset your Galaxy S8 from the settings menu

The easiest way to factory reset your Galaxy S8 is from the phone’s settings menu. Make sure it’s powered on, and then go to Settings > General management > Reset. Tap on Factory data reset, then Reset, and finally Delete all.

Now sit tight — the process takes a few minutes. Once it’s finished, you’ll see the Galaxy S8’s welcome screen.

Reset your Galaxy S8 from the recovery menu

Sometimes, software corruption, persistent malware, and other factors make resetting your Galaxy S8 from the settings menu an unrealistic proposition. Luckily, you can erase the phone’s data without having to boot into its operating system by using the recovery menu.

Make sure your Galaxy S8 is powered down.

  • Hold the Volume up, Bixby, and Power buttons at the same time, and keep them held down until you see the Samsung logo.
  • After 30 seconds, you should see the Android Recovery Menu. If your phone boots up as normal, try repeating the previous two steps.
  • Press the Volume down button four times, until Wipe data/Factory reset is highlighted. Select it using the Power button.
  • Press the Volume down button seven times until Yes — delete all user data is highlighted. Select it using the Power button, which triggers the reset process.
  • Once the factory reset is complete, press the Power button and select reboot system now.

Once the Galaxy S8 boots, you’ll see the default welcome screen.

Reset your Galaxy S8 using Samsung’s Smart Switch PC software

If you’d prefer to use a computer to reset the Galaxy S8, good news: Samsung’s Smart Switch software makes it simple. It’ll guide you through the factory reset process, install the newest firmware on your Galaxy S8, and wipe your apps, settings, and personal data.

There are a few prerequisites, though. You’ll need to plug the Galaxy S8 into one of your PC’s USB ports using a USB-C adapter, and you’ll have to download and install the Smart Switch software from Samsung’s website. From there, it’s all downhill.

If you’re plugging in your Galaxy S8 for the first time, you’ll have to wait for the necessary drivers to install. Once that’s finished, move on to the next steps.

  • Launch the Samsung Smart Switch software you installed earlier. Your phone will appear in the list of devices.
  • Click more in the top-right corner of the screen, and then click Emergency Software Recovery and Initialization.
  • Click Device Initialization. Click OK; click OK again to confirm the initialization; and click OK a third time to confirm you’ve read the list of precautions.
  • Choose whether you want to create a backup. If you’d rather not, click Skip backup.
  • If you get a User Account Control prompt, click Yes.
  • Smart Switch will download and install the latest Galaxy S8 firmware to your device. Once it finishes, click OK.

Your Galaxy S8 should now turn on and it will be wiped clean, ready to set up afresh or pass along. Check out our Galaxy S8 tips and tricks to learn more about your phone, or delve into our Galaxy S8 problems to find fixes for any issues you encounter.

Product Review

Galaxy Watch Active is the right size, no matter how big or small your wrist is

Launched among a massive array of other new products, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could easily have been missed at Galaxy Unpacked 2019 -- which would be unfortunate. This is a sensibly designed, correctly sized smartwatch suitable for…
Gaming

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.
Gaming

Need to perform a factory reset on your Xbox One console? Here's how to do it

Whether you're upgrading to a One X and giving your old console to a friend, or troubleshooting a technical issue, sometimes your Xbox One needs a clean slate. Here's our quick guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One.
Mobile

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.
Deals

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…
Mobile

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.
Mobile

Samsung’s wide range of Galaxy products means there’s something for everyone

Samsung launched a host of new products on February 20, with prices ranging from just $35, all the way up to nearly $2,000. This was not by chance, and the company believes it has something for everyone in 2019.
Deals

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are a brilliant combination of value and comfort

With six hours of battery life, an extremely comfortable fit, sweatproofing, and a very palatable price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are putting all other true wireless earbuds on notice.
Deals

Amazon drops a sweet deal on the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch for women

Unlike many other smartwatches geared toward women, the Kate Spade Scallop offers a more chic and minimalistic look. With this Amazon sale going on right now, you can get it for $109 off its retail price.
Cars

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.
Deals

The 5 best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…