One of the advantages early versions of mobile operating systems had over traditional desktop PCs was the built-in features that make it easier to troubleshoot everyday problems. If your computer froze, you might have required technical assistance; though, if the Android or iOS smartphone operating systems froze, you could make use of the soft or hard resets to get the device back to its working state.
Desktop operating systems have since caught up—Windows 10, for example, comes with an option to soft and hard reset—but thankfully, mobile operating systems such as Android continue to offer the resets as a means of working your way out of trouble.
What is a Hard Reset?
A hard reset, also known as a factory or master reset, is a software restore for an electronic device, bringing it back to its original and default state, as though you had just opened it out of its box and begun using the operating system for the first time. That means you can expect to find all your data and settings erased, and you will need to take the necessary steps to start using the device once again, which includes setting up an account if your operating system requires one.
Some operating systems such as Android require you to sign in to your Google account after a hard reset, so make sure you have your Google email address and password handy if your smartphone runs on Android.
The way you take a hard reset will vary between devices. You can contact your device manufacturer for the procedure or search for the words “hard reset,” followed by the name of your device.
What is the Difference Between a Hard Reset and Soft Reset?
Although generally reliable, the operating system on your smartphone is prone to freezing now and then. It could be because you do not have enough RAM, and when you try browsing too fast, it is not able to cope, or it could be any number of other reasons. To solve these types of general issues, you will need to perform either a soft or hard reset.
A soft reset. You want to use the soft reset option on your smartphone to solve any number of smaller problems that were unable to be solved with a standard restart of the smartphone. Try a soft reset to fix common mobile-related problems before you try a hard reset.
A hard reset. A hard reset is your last resort for any ongoing problems faced after applying a soft reset. The hard reset has the upside of always being able to solve whatever challenges you face; however, also understand that by hard resetting, you are restoring the device to all its original factory settings. That means you will wipe all data, settings, applications, and passwords from the smartphone’s internal memory.
Why Take a Hard Reset?
Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether you need to take a hard reset or not in order to rectify a problem. The easiest way of knowing whether or not you need to take a hard reset is by trying the soft reset first.
Taking hard resets is not always about solving issues, though. Also common is to take a hard reset to purposefully wipe all data before you sell or hand over the smartphone to someone else. That way, you will keep your privacy, and they will never know what data you had on the smartphone before it leaves your possession.
You should take a hard reset if you want to achieve any of these things:
- Factory reset the device
- Wipe all data on the device
- Bypass the screen lock on the device
- Restore the Android factory defaults on the device
The following tutorial demonstrates how to hard reset the iPhone 6S smartphone so you can restore it to its factory defaults.
Method One: How to Hard Reset/Factory Reset iPhone 6S from Settings
You can apply the hard reset/factory reset from the iPhone 6S smartphone’s Settings menu. Here is how you can do that:
Note: You have long been able to force a hard reset on the iPhone by long-pressing the Home and side Power buttons for around ten seconds. However, if you have a more recent version of the iPhone, such as any that have been made since the iPhone 8, the method to hard reset is a bit more complicated. Apple still has made a couple of reliable methods to use, though. They are as follows.
1. Turn off the smartphone by pressing and holding the side Power button. Drag the slider and then wait at least 30 seconds for the smartphone to be turned off.
2. Turn on the smartphone and then wait for the Home screen to load.
3. From the iPhone’s Home screen, tap on the Settings application.
4. From the main Settings menu, tap on General to get access to the general settings.
5. From the General settings, tap on Reset and then tap on Erase All Content and Settings.
Note: If you get a warning from Apple saying that This will delete all media and data, and reset all settings, tap on Erase iPhone.
6. Enter your iPhone’s passcode to continue with the erasing of your data.
7. Accept any other terms that Apple might popup on the smartphone’s display to complete the hard reset.
You can now continue using your smartphone if you like.
Method Two: How to Hard Reset/Factory Reset iPhone 6S from Recovery Mode Using iTunes
If you have a computer, you can also hard reset the iPhone 6S from its recovery mode by using Apple’s iTunes.
1. While in recovery mode, connect the iPhone 6S to the computer with the USB cable and open iTunes.
2. When you get a message from iTunes asking whether you would like to update or restore, click on the Restore button.
Note: If you get a message from iTunes that says: Are you sure you want to restore the iPhone to its factory settings?, click on the Restore button.
3. Wait for iTunes to download, prepare, and restore the iPhone’s software.
4. When iTunes is done restoring the software, tap on Set up as a new iPhone from your smartphone’s display.
You can now continue using your smartphone if you like.
What is the Difference Between a Factory Reset and a Hard Reset?
There is no difference between a factory reset and a hard reset—the two terms are interchangeable. Sometimes people suggest that a factory reset is the equivalent of a hard reset and a hard reset is the equivalent of a software reset, but those sentiments are untrue. A soft reset is not the same as a standard reboot or restart of an operating system; what often sets them apart is the soft reset requires you to hold in the Power button, usually for around ten seconds on most devices, whereas the standard restart happens straight away from the Power menu.
Taking the Hard Reset Did Not Solve My Problem, What Next?
If you still are having problems with your operating system—or its software—after trying the hard reset, you can try reinstalling the stock firmware. If you do not want to try flashing firmware files, we recommend getting in touch with your manufacturer, either from their official website or one of their official social media pages for advice on what to do next. It might be that they ask you to send the device away for repair instead.
Note: Applying a hard reset to the smartphone or tablet will not void the manufacturer’s warranty, but manually reinstalling the firmware might.
What is Factory Reset Protection (FRP)?
Some smartphones come with a feature, available on Android since version 5.0 (Lollipop), called Factory Reset Protection. FRP is designed to deter smartphone theft by making it harder for the unlawful possessor of the smartphone to gain access to it. It also means your data is kept safe if your smartphone is lost or stolen. FRP is not flawless—there can be ways around it—so Android may need to use better methods in future for device owners to rest assured their data is safe, but for now it is the standard adopted by many Android smartphone manufacturers.