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Erase the Data on Android Without a Factory Reset

This post will probably make every security tech firm cringe, and their employees have nightmares, but let me explain the situation as to WHY I would want to erase the data on android without a factory reset.

I bought my wife a new phone – a Samsung Note 4.

As part of the transaction, I decided to give the old phone to my step-daughter, which would be an upgrade from her Elephone P6i.  My wife’s old phone (Samsung GT-I9500 aka Galaxy S4 running Android 4.4.2) had “Highster Mobile Parental Control App” installed at a cost of $69.99 “lifetime” fee.

I had already learned from Sheister that lifetime warranty doesn’t mean your lifetime.

As long as you don’t perform a factory reset of the phone, the program doesn’t expire and doesn’t require any additional payments.  Even though Highster Mobile Spy Software is pretty crappy, I hated to lose the investment.

Since my wife didn’t do anything critical with her phone (other than email, Candy Crush, WhatsApp and Facebook, among a few others), I thought about how I would clear all the data on her phone without losing the existing Highster subscription.  I didn’t need this good enough for government data destruction, just “clean enough”.

My wife didn’t even access our bank accounts via her smartphone.  There was NO SD card in the old Samsung either, which also made this process easier.

My “plan of action” was to …

  1. Root the (old) Samsung using kingo
  2. Delete all the apps manually downloaded to the phone
  3. Download Ishredder (over writes free space to government specs) and/or ccleaner (remove cookies and wipe free space) and History Eraser (gets rid of much data and junk), Secure Wipe; look at AVG Cleaner to search for hidden apps and large files to delete.
  4. Download and run a bloatware removal script called “Truly Clean”  (has been discontinued … don’t want to try this now).
  5. Install Lagfix and make sure the hard drive is clear of slow-down trash
  6. Wipe the Cache of the phone using the Android Recover Tools described here (http://www.talkandroid.com/guides/android-lollipop-guides/how-to-factory-reset-or-wipe-the-cache-on-your-samsung-galaxy-device-after-the-lollipop-update/)

    This reset will not delete any personal data saved on your phone. Wipe cache partition means wiping the most common files from the cache stored by system.

    1.Power off your smartphone
    2.Press and hold “Volume up”, “Home” and “Power” at the same time
    3.After the phone vibrates, release the “Power” button but continue to hold “Volume Up” and “home”
    4.Once the “Android System Recovery” screen appears, release all the hardware buttons
    5.Using the “Volume Down” button, navigate to and highlight “wipe cache partition”
    6.Press “Power” to select the option
    7.Once the cache partition has been wiped, “Reboot System Now” should be highlighted
    8Press the “Power” key to reboot your device

  7. Remove the Google account

    When you first set up your Android device, it prompts you to add a Google Gmail account to the phone. This becomes the primary Google account. Normally the Android does not allow you to change the primary account without deleting everything on the device. If you have changed your Gmail address, you can clear the old account without resetting by clearing the data and cache in the Google Apps application.

    Step 1   Press the “Menu” key on the main screen of your Android device.
    Step 2   Tap “Settings” and select “Applications.”
    Step 3   Touch “Manage applications” and select the “All” tab.
    Step 4   Touch “Google Apps” and click “Clear data.”
    Step 5   Click “OK” on the confirmation screen. Repeat for “Clear cache.”
    Step 6   Press the “Back” button and touch “Gmail.”
    Step 7   Touch “Clear data” and select “OK.” Repeat for “Clear cache.”
    Step 8   Return to the Settings menu and touch “Data synchronization.” The phone will prompt you to enter your new Gmail account information.OR:

    1. Open the Settings menu on your device.
    2. Under “Accounts,” touch the name of the account you want to remove.
    3. If you’re using a Google account, touch Google and then the account. …
    4. Touch the Menu icon in the top right corner of the screen.
    5. Touch Remove account.
  8. Using a pc based recovery script, attempt to recover any deleted files.

IN THE END, I decided this was too much work as there were so many things that needed to be deleted.  So I encrypted the phone, then performed the factory reset and started over.  Goodbye Sheister Mobile spouse-cheating-parental-control-secret-spy app that doesn’t work worth crap.

 

BTW, if you are changing/upgrading Android smartphones and want a good guide, check out this great post from LifeHacker (http://lifehacker.com/5843206/how-to-upgrade-to-a-new-android-phone-and-take-everything-with-you)

 

 

 






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