It is no secret that Android smartphones are as susceptible to viruses and malware as personal computers and laptops. What is scary is that not many people know that viruses can wipe everything off your phone—personal messages, saved passwords, pictures, saved files, eBooks, and games. If that doesn’t scare you, try saving up only one years’ worth of pictures and other personal effects on your phone and imagine it falling down the drain because of one virus incident. Ouch, right? The factory reset should be your after-everything-else-fails solution.
First, before anything else, whether you have encountered such problems in the past or not, you may want to consider backing up your phone’s data. This can be done by placing some of your phone’s files on a safe storage service online such as the Dropbox, or copying them onto another device such as a personal computer or an external hard drive. This way, malware or not, you can rest assured that your precious files are safe and secure.
At any rate, here is how to save your phone before considering the total lock down.
First, know your enemy
That means that finding out that the problem may not be virus-related after all. Try to recheck it by considering a few pointers:
- When the incident happened: before or after downloading a particular app
- Where you downloaded the app: was it from the Google Store or somewhere else?
- Did you inadvertently click on some pop-up ad that downloaded something unwanted?
- The problem occurs whenever you open a certain app
All of the above factors are caused by malware.
The following are NOT caused by viruses, and can be resolved by clearing out extra information (caches), uninstalling some apps, as well as rebooting your phone:
- System UI (User Interface) not working
- Crashing or not downloading from Google Play Store
- Not enough space on your RAM (“Cannot install” or “Insufficient Space on Device”)
- Incompatible file with the MP4 player app on your phone
- Wi-Fi Network cannot be connected
- Forgotten or incorrect password
Keep Calm and Run a Virus Scan
This is easy enough, as you can use any standard mobile antivirus app. The tricky part is to choose which one. Probably one of the best from all the free ones on the market is Avira, but there’s no hard and fast rule on what’s the best app in all of the market. At any rate, the next best thing is a paid app and Kaspersky Internet Security may be your best bet. It may be free for a 30-day trial period, after which you will pay a small fee once a year. You can check out some suggestions made by AVTest online. If this app can detect and delete your malware or virus, then it’s all well and good. However, it doesn’t work all the time. Time to get to the next steps, which are:
Be on Safe Mode
This is where you can safely delete your malware. With Safe Mode on, your smartphone will shut down active operation of any extra and third-party apps. You can turn this on by pressing on the power button. From there, choose Power Off. Once your phone is turned off, turn it back on again and wait until you see a screen flash out, then press and hold the volume up and down buttons simultaneously until you’re phone boots up and you see the “Safe Mode” at the button of the screen.
Your malware will still be seen as part of your downloaded apps, under Settings. But at least here you can locate and delete it safely. You can uninstall the malware immediately or deactivate first the device Administrator Access (when you cannot delete the app).
Clean Your Android Phone
Just to be on the safe side, you can opt to clean up your cache by running a cleaner app such as Clean Master on your phone. Or you can do this manually by clearing up your internet searches, histories, app caches, even the start-up set-up.
When Everything Fails, Reset
Unfortunately, if there is nothing more you can do and there are still some problems with your phone, you may have to choose to a factory reset. You will lose a lot of data, including those lovely pictures from five years ago, but this is better than getting all your personal information affected. There are uncommon yet actual cases when a virus wreaked havoc on a user’s credit card information. “Better safe than sorry,” they always say, and always remember; never download anything that you’re not familiar with or is not on Google Play Store and always back up your stuff on either your computer or the cloud.