Why You Must Factory Reset Everything: A Privacy 101 For 2022

A full factory reset is usually the final option if something has gone very wrong indeed with your device. So, why am I here saying it should be your first move? The devil, of course, is in the detail.

Why would you need to factory reset anything?

The idea for this ‘how-to’ article came to me after I had spent way too long getting my old PlayStation 4 Pro ready to be moved on to a new owner. I was lucky enough to get hold of a PlayStation 5 last year, so the time had more than come to let my much-loved PS4 Pro go. Of course, this meant I needed to ensure that all my personal data wasn’t included in that sale. This proved to be rather more time-consuming than I had imagined. A bit of Startpage searching later (yeah, I’ve stopped Googling and use a more privacy preserving option now) quickly led me to the steps required; that was when the fun started. A full factory reset for the PS4 meant more than just deactivating the games console. By the time I’d wiped it clean of all my personal data to be absolutely certain it was safe to sell, more than three hours of my life had gone by.

This got me thinking that if wiping data from a PS4 Pro was so convoluted and time-consuming, what about other devices across the hardware spectrum? Although for some deleting all traces of your ownership is delightfully straightforward, that’s certainly not true in all cases. And, so, here we are. I hope this privacy 101 on how to factory reset all the things* before you sell or otherwise dispose of them, in 2022. is useful in some small way.

* No, not literally all the things, obviously; but a good starting point, nonetheless.

These are all the things I’ve had reason to factory reset in the last year or two, plus a few others for good measure. If there are any other specific things that you would like to see added to the list, then contact me using the link in my profile and I’ll do my best to keep it updated.

Do make sure you have backed up any data you wish to keep before attempting any factory reset, regardless of device, because there really is no going back!

How to factory reset a Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro

Step 1: Sign into your PlayStation account.

Step 2: Go to Settings|PlayStation Network|Account Management.

Step 3: Select ‘Activate as Your Primary PS4’ and click on ‘Deactivate.’

Step 4: Once your PS4 has finished deactivating, sign back in and head to Settings|Initialization.

Step 5: Select ‘Initialize PS4’ and then choose the ‘Full’ option when presented to you.

Step 6: Select Initialize|Yes then go and make a cup of tea, and a sandwich, pop to the shops and then have a shower before making another cup of tea. This can take two or three hours to complete, with multiple restarts.

Step 7: When you see the initial setup screen asking you to connect your controller using a USB cable, the job is done.

How to factory reset a Sony PlayStation 5

Step 1: Sign into your PlayStation account.

Step 2: Go to Settings|System Software.

Step 3: Select Reset Options|Reset Your Console|Reset

Step 4: Wait for the PS5 to restart and you will see the initial setup screen once the factory reset has been completed.

How to factory reset a Microsoft Xbox One

Step 1: Make sure you are signed in and then head for Settings in the system menu.

Step 2: Select System|Console info|Reset console.

Step 3. Select Reset and remove everything.

Step 4: Sit back and wait, then wait some more. When a restart lands on the setup your controller screen you are done.

How to factory reset a Microsoft Series X|S

Step 1: Make sure you are signed in and then head for Settings in the Profile & system menu.

Step 2: Select System|Console info|Reset console.

Step 3. Select RESET AND REMOVE EVERYTHING.

Step 4: Sit back and wait, then wait some more. When a restart lands on the setup your controller screen you are done.

How to factory reset a Nintendo Switch

Step 1: Select HOME|System Settings|System.

Step 2: Go all the way down the menu until you get to Formatting Options and then select Restore Factory Settings.

Step 3: Select Next.

Step 4: Select Restore Factory Settings and wait for about five minutes until the system restarts.

How to factory reset an iPhone or iPad

Step 1: Head to Settings|General|Transfer or Reset.

Step 2: Enter passcode or Apple ID password when requested.

Step 3: Confirm erasure and wait a few minutes.

Step 4: And relax, it really is as simple as that. Nice one Apple.

Step 5: Unless you’ve forgotten your passcode, in which case it gets more complicated: Apple explains what to do here.

How to factory reset an Apple Watch

Step 1: Place your Apple Watch and iPhone close together.

Step 2: Open Apple Watch app on your iPhone and head for the My Watch tab.

Step 3: Select All Watches and then the info button for the relevant device.

Step 4: Click on Unpair Apple Watch.

Step 5: Select remove your mobile data plan if you have a GPS + Cellular Watch.

Step 6: Confirm. Enter Apple ID password to disable the activation lock if set and wait a few minutes until the Start Pairing screen appears.

How to factory reset an Android smartphone

I had cause to factory reset a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ running Android 12 recently. These instructions apply with that in mind.

Step 1: Settings|General Management.

Step 2: Scroll down and select Reset|Factory data reset.

Step 3: Read the warnings and hit the big blue Reset button when you are quite sure.

Because the Android smartphone ecosystem is so fractured, you may find your device instructions will differ slightly depending upon manufacturer and the version of Android installed. In which case I suggest you search for “factory reset <device> <Android version>” which should iron out any user interface wrinkles.

How to factory reset an Amazon Kindle

Step 1: Ensure your Kindle is sufficiently charged before continuing, you will need to be at 40% or more to perform the factory reset operation.

Step 2: Open your device and swipe down from the top of the screen to display the quick actions menu.

Step 3: Select All Settings|Device Options.

Step 4: Select Reset Device.

Step 5: Read the warning about deleting your data from the device but leaving it accessible from the cloud and click to confirm the factory reset.

Step 5: If you have the parental control option enabled but can’t remember the password then you will need to enter 111222777 in the passcode field to initiate the reset.

How to factory reset an Amazon Echo

Step 1: The easiest way to start the Echo factory reset process is to ask it. Say ‘Alexa go to settings’ to pop up the settings screen. Or you can pull down from the top of the screen and select it from the options displayed.

Step 2: Now scroll down and select Device Options|Reset to Factory Defaults.

Step 3: Those are the instructions that work with the Amazon Show, because that’s the device I’ve used it on. However, performing a factory reset will differ from device to device, generation to generation. Luckily, Amazon has a full set of step-by-step instructions for all of them.

How to factory reset a Google Nest Hub

Step 1: Press and hold the volume-up and volume-down buttons simultaneously for 10 seconds.

Step 2: Wait for the on-screen factory reset warning to appear and if you keep hold of the volume buttons it will continue. If you change your mind, let go of the buttons.

These incredibly simple instructions are specifically for a Google Nest Hub. There may be some slight Nest/Home device variations depending on what you have, but Google has it covered with full instructions for each.

How to factory reset an older Mac

These instructions are for a Mac running a pre-macOS Catalina version. For Catalina or later instructions, which are slightly simpler, see Apple’s specific instructions. If you need to factory reset a Mac with Apple silicon or the T2 chip and are running macOS Monterey, then you’ll want this factory reset information.

Step 1: Open iTunes and head for Account|Authorisations|Deauthorise This COmputer and enter your Apple ID and password before selecting the Deauthorise option.

Step 2: Now that you have signed out of iTunes you’ll need to sign out of iCloud. From the Apple menu select System Preferences|iCloud|Sign Out.

Step 3: Sign out of iMessage (are you thinking about just using a chainsaw by this point?) by opening the app and selecting Messages|Preferences|iMessage|Sign Out.

Step 4: Unpair all Bluetooth devices from System Preferences|Bluetooth.

Step 5: Enter Recovery Mode by restarting your Mac and holding Command-R until the Apple logo appears.

Step 6: Select Disk Utility|Macintosh HD|Erase.

Step 7. Enter the following details. Name: Macintosh HD Format: APFS and click erase or erase volume group, depending which button appears. You may need to enter your Apple ID at this point as well.

Step 8. Quit back to the Disk Utility window and select Reinstall macOS and then wait until the Mac reaches the Setup Assistant at which point you are good to go, leaving a clean Mac ready for the new owner.

How to factory reset a Windows 10 computer

Step 1: Head for Settings and then select Update and Security|Recovery.

Step 2: Select Reset this PC|Get Started.

Step 3: Select Remove everything.

Step 4: Confirm that you want to erase all personal data from all drives.

Step 5: When you are asked how you would like to reinstall Windows you can choose to download from the cloud (the latest version, coming in at around 4GB) or a local installation using the data on your device.

Step 6: And finally, you can now read the list of what is about to happen, press Restore and Robert is your mother’s brother.

You can find specific details of how to perform a factory reset of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices here.

How to factory reset a router

While you may reboot a router if you are having problems with your network and use the admin console to upgrade your firmware to keep up with the latest security mitigations, if you are selling the thing then a factory reset is what you need. This ensures all your network names/IDs and passwords are deleted. Because there are so many different routers out there supplied by different providers or bought as a third-party product, no one set of instructions will fit all. It’s highly recommended, therefore, that you go and search for your particular hardware (all the details will be on the back) but here is a generic guide to help you along.

Step 1: Use the paperclip and reset button triple 30 technique: depress the reset button with the paperclip and hold for 30 seconds. Unplug your router for 30 seconds then switch back on. Repeat step one.

Step 2: Alternatively, a search for your router model should reveal the admin interface method. Using a web browser enter your router IP address (that search will reveal this as well) or use the software that came with it to launch the admin console. Login. If you have never logged in as admin before then, yep, you can search for the default credentials online (which is why it’s important to change them in the first place!) Find the restore menu, usually, and select the factory reset option.

HEY! Could we ask you for a favor? Would you share this article with your friends? It costs you nothing and it takes just a second, but means the world to us. Thanks a lot!