A new smartphone or tablet is exciting to use at first and it has a great interface, lots of memory for storing apps, photos, music and videos, and a speedy processor. After a year or two it doesn't seem so great. It is slow, bloated with apps, and you are running out of memory. Where did it all go wrong?

 

One problem is that files, folders, caches and other items build up in the memory over time and they can clog up the system causing it to run short of memory and a lack of memory will slow it down.

The solution is to factory reset it. This involves wiping the phone or tablet clean and removing everything but the operating system. Look for Backup and Reset in the device's settings. Down at the bottom is Factory data reset.

Factory reset Android

Performing a factory reset is not the drastic step that you might imagine, because providing those two boxes in the screen shot are ticked, everything will be put back on the device. Back up my data ensures that all important settings are securely stored by Google online in your account, and Automatic restore means that all the settings are restored too.

This means that you can wipe the phone or tablet without losing anything. After tapping Factory data reset, the device restarts and goes through the setup procedure. It will ask whether you have a Google account and after entering your email and password, it downloads all the settings and apps to the device, putting everything back as it was. Well, almost as it was because this is now a clean phone or tablet, free of fluff.

You will find that there is much more memory free on the device after restoring everything and this provides a performance boost as well as providing more space for apps, photos, videos and music.

Oddly, you may find that it looks and works differently too.

From time to time, operating system updates are pushed out to phones from the manufacturer. You may have started out with Android 4.0, but have upgraded to 4.1, then 4.2 and perhaps beyond.

For some strange reason an operating system upgrade is not like a fresh install and some things just don't seem to get updated. It is weird, but if you have upgraded the Android version and then perform a factory reset, it can seem like a new device. You get a lot more memory, fresh new apps and a brand new interface too. It looks and works differently and it is a good way to keep an old phone or tablet running.

Give your device a spring clean and factory reset it, but don't blame me if you haven't backed up and lose everything - backups are essential of course.