The Disadvantages of Performing a Factory Reset

Last Updated: October 20, 2023By
Close up of person using smartphone

Performing a factory reset on a device is a powerful action, often recommended as a one-stop solution to a host of issues like slow performance, recurring errors, or malware infections. By reverting your phone, tablet, or laptop to its initial, unblemished state, the procedure promises a fresh start.

However, this fresh start is not without its caveats. Before hitting that “reset” button, it’s crucial to be aware of some inherent disadvantages that could affect your data, time, and even your device’s security.

Data Loss When Performing a Factory Reset

A factory reset is a thorough cleaning operation that wipes out nearly everything on your device, returning it to its original state. While beneficial for resolving many issues, it poses the significant risk of data loss.

This data loss is not limited to just files and folders but extends to a broader array of information types.

What Gets Deleted in a Factory Reset

A factory reset will erase almost all the data stored in your device’s internal storage. This includes your operating system settings, system and app data, and downloaded apps.

If you haven’t made adequate backup arrangements, you will not be able to recover this lost data after the reset.

Loss of Personal Files and Documents

Your personal files such as photographs, videos, and important documents are among the most affected by a factory reset. These files are usually stored in the device’s internal storage, which will be wiped clean.

Without a prior backup, these files are irretrievably lost.

Deletion of App Data

When you perform a factory reset, all the app data stored on your device is erased. This means that any progress you have made in games, any settings you’ve customized in your apps, and any additional app-related data will be gone.

The loss can be disruptive and require you to start from scratch when you reinstall these apps.

The Case of Synced Data

Some types of data, such as browser bookmarks or files stored in cloud-based apps like Google Drive, may not be lost if they are synced to an online account. However, any data that is not synced—be it app-specific data or system settings—will be permanently deleted.

It’s essential to ensure that all the data you wish to keep is either synced or backed up.

Importance of Backups

Creating a backup is the most effective precaution you can take to safeguard against data loss during a factory reset. Many devices and platforms offer integrated backup solutions that preserve both files and some settings.

Utilizing these features can save a lot of time and heartache.

Impact on Local Credentials

Local account details saved on apps or websites will be deleted after a factory reset. Though some credentials may be retained if you have used a sync feature, any locally stored usernames or passwords will be lost.

Confirming that you have a record of these credentials before performing the factory reset is advisable.

By comprehensively evaluating the potential for data loss, you can better prepare yourself for a factory reset. Awareness of what specifically will be lost provides the opportunity to backup essential data and make the process far less disruptive.

Time-Consuming Reconfiguration

Embarking on a factory reset is not just about erasing data; it also means you’ll have to allocate a considerable amount of time to set up your device from scratch. Once the reset is complete, the device will be just as it was when first taken out of the box.

This resets not only the internal storage but also all the custom configurations and settings you’ve implemented over time.

What Reconfiguration Means for Your Device

Performing a factory reset means you have to go through the initial device setup again, which is often more time-consuming than many people anticipate. This involves everything from language selection to initial system and privacy settings. 

The more customized your previous setup, the longer it will take to restore it to your preferences.

The Hassle of Reinstalling Apps

Your apps will not automatically return after a factory reset. You will need to visit your device’s app store and manually reinstall each application.

Moreover, unless the app data was backed up or synced, you’ll also need to set up these apps as if you are using them for the first time, which can be a tedious process.

Reestablishing System Settings

Your Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth pairings, and other system settings will be erased during the reset. You’ll need to reenter passwords, pair devices, and set preferences all over again.

This is an often-overlooked aspect of what a factory reset entails, but it can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the process.

Reapplying Custom Preferences

If you’ve customized your device extensively, including settings for notifications, screen brightness, volume levels, and so on, you will need to implement these changes anew. Such tweaks and customizations contribute to a more personalized user experience but will require significant time to reapply post-reset.

Backup and Restore as a Time-Saving Measure

While backups can help with file recovery, some systems also allow the backup of settings and preferences. This can be a significant time-saver when you’re setting up your device again.

However, it’s essential to realize that not all settings can be backed up and restored, so some manual reconfiguration will still be necessary.

By being aware of the time commitments associated with reconfiguring your device post-factory reset, you can better prepare for the process. It’s not just a matter of clicking a button and starting fresh; a factory reset demands your attention to detail and a notable time investment for reconfiguration.


Performing a factory reset might seem like a straightforward solution to numerous device issues, but the action carries with it considerable downsides. Not only do you risk irreversible data loss, but you also commit to a laborious reconfiguration process. 

While some data, like synced bookmarks and files, may be recoverable, a large portion of your device’s information will be permanently deleted. Similarly, the reset will require you to manually reinstall apps, reapply custom settings, and re-enter system preferences, consuming both time and effort.

Although backup options can alleviate some of these burdens, they don’t offer a complete safeguard. Before proceeding with this significant action, being aware of these drawbacks is crucial. Weigh these disadvantages carefully against the perceived benefits to ensure you’re making the best choice for your particular situation.