Does Factory Resetting Android Remove Viruses and Malware?


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Today almost everyone is dependent on smartphones for their work, entertainment, shopping, banking, calling, and many other tasks. It has become an indispensable part of everyone’s life.

Naturally, if anything wrong happens to the smartphone, like a virus or malware attack, the workflow of the owner would be disturbed, and they will go to any extent to get it right again.

After an Android phone is tarnished with a virus, the first thing the owner will go for is a robust security app to catch and remove the culprit. Usually, this trick works as modern antimalware apps like MalwareFox are strong enough to detect and eliminate even the worst viruses. However, many Android phone users go for another way to kill the malware residing on their device. This method is Factory Resetting the device. 

A factory reset or hard reset of a device means clearing all its data, such as photos, videos, applications, contacts, etc., and rolling it back to the initial stage when it was in the factory. Since it involves clearing all the data, the viruses or other malware would also get eliminated with it, and hence it is one of the popular ways to get rid of viruses from Android devices. A factory reset can also be applied to other devices such as laptops, WiFi routers, printers, Fax machines, etc.

Though factory reset is expected to wipe out all user data and malware programs along with it, does it always do that?

Let us find that out.

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Why is Factory Reset performed?

There could be various reasons someone might force to perform the hard reset. Here are the top reasons for performing the factory reset:

  1. To Improve Device Performance: With time, every electronic device tends to slow down. There are various factors for it, but the main one is unnecessary clutter. Many users tend to accumulate unnecessary files and apps on their phones that they don’t require at all. With a hard reset, all those apps and files would vanish, the phone will be refreshed, and the performance would be enhanced.
  2. Selling or Transferring the Device: Many users perform the factory reset of the device when they sell or transfer it to someone else. The hard reset would clear all their sensitive data from the phone and thereby secure their privacy.
  3. To Fix Android Bugs: Many users experience glitches and bugs in their device, such as GPS not working, WiFi not working, Camera malfunctioning, and more such, which can only be solved with a hard reset.
  4. Malware Attacks: As already mentioned, a hard reset would completely wipe out the device data and, with that, the dangerous viruses or malware as well.
  5. Unfinished OS Update: While updating the OS because of some interruptions, the update might fail or broke causing the OS to malfunction. In such a scenario, hard resetting is the only option left.
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Does Factory Resetting remove Viruses?

Since factory reset clears all the data from the device, it also removes the viruses along with that. However, this does not always happen.

There is a malicious program known by the name xHelper virus, which has infected over 50,000 Android smartphones and tabs. This virus is known to be an unremovable virus since it is undetectable by any security programs, and even after multiple hard resets, it keeps popping up on the device.

There are many more such viruses that are undetectable or unremovable even through a factory reset. Here are some reasons how a virus could survive a factory reset:

  1. Most users perform a backup before a factory reset to restore their files later. It is possible that while backing up the personal files and apps, the virus also got backed up. Hence, on restoring this backup after the factory reset, the virus would also get restored in the device.
  2. Some advanced malware programs can hide in the recovery partition. A recovery partition is a portion of the device’s storage where the factory restore settings are stored. Factory resetting would not wipe out anything from the recovery partition; therefore, viruses hiding in it won’t be removed.
  3. Some malware can get the root level access of the device through a Rootkit. Such malware can remain undetected and unremoved even after a factory reset.

What are the alternatives to Factory Reset for removing viruses?

Instead of applying the hard reset, it is better to perform other methods first to detect and remove malware programs. Here are the few alternatives to Factory Reset:

  1. Equip your device with a robust antimalware solution like MalwareFox. Thoroughly scan your device with it and remove the detected viruses.
  2. Reboot your device in Safe Mode and remove the recently installed suspicious applications from the device that might be causing the trouble.
  3. Before creating a backup, ensure that it does not contain any malicious file or app.
  4. Clear your phone’s and browsers’ cache

Bottom Line

Though Factory Resetting is an excellent option to boost your phone and get rid of malicious files and programs, it does not always guarantee virus removal. Hard resetting a device is an extreme step; therefore, it is advised to try out every other option and then go for the factory reset if all other ways failed.

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