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Are Android phones encrypted?

Your phone stores tons of personal information. Is it safe?

android phone on table
Image: Unsplash

If you own a smartphone, you probably realize that you store a ton of personal information. Everything from bank details and family photos to addresses and passwords for all your online accounts, can be found within a few taps.

With all of that sensitive data, you might also wonder if your Android device is encrypting its contents, so thieves can’t easily get your most guarded secrets.

I mean, you wouldn’t put piles of cash in your home and not lock the doors and windows, right? Think of encryption in that way, as another level of security for your data that stops anyone without the key being able to access it.

This makes it so unless someone has your additional password, they can’t see your information, even with the tools that can bypass the lock screen.

So, are Android phones encrypted?

Short answer: Yes, as long as your device is fairly new

Starting with Android Lollipop (5.x), higher-end Android devices shipped with encryption turned on from the factory. That’s a good thing since it makes the data you store on your handset more secure. It also means that you won’t be able to change your phone to unencrypted by default, so you will find that you’re trading security for a slight performance hit. Most users won’t notice that though, especially on today’s devices with their more powerful processors.

If you’ve got an older device or one that didn’t ship with encryption by default, it’s simple to enable it. Make sure your battery is charged to eighty percent or higher, plug it into the charger, and back up your phone first because if anything goes wrong you’ll lose all your data. Head into “Settings > Security”, then scroll down to “Encrypt phone” and say “yes” to the two confirmation dialogs that will pop up. Then just wait for an hour or so for the process to finish and the phone to reboot.

The last thing to do is to set up a PIN or password, so your phone doesn’t automatically unencrypt on boot. Head into “Settings > Security” again, look for Screen Lock (or similar), set a password or PIN to unlock your phone with, and set it to require that code at start-up.

What do you think? Does this information make you more likely to get an Android phone? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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