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.

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