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hard reset (factory reset; master reset)

A hard reset, also known as a factory reset or master reset, is the restoration of a device to the state it was in when it left the factory. All settings, applications and data added by the user are removed. The term is often heard in reference to smartphones and tablets but laptop and desktop computers, as well as most other electronic devices, can usually be restored to factory conditions.

Factory reset may be accomplished through various procedures, depending on the particular device, or may be available as a device or operating system feature. Android Factory Reset, for example, is a feature that erases all settings, user data, third-party applications, and associated application data from an Android device’s internal flash memory.

The most common reasons to restore factory conditions are to fix a malfunctioning device or to remove user data before selling or otherwise disposing of a device or returning it to the manufacturer. 

Hard reset contrasts with soft reset, which just means to restart a device. 

This was last updated in January 2013

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