How To Encrypt Data On Your Android Phone
As mysterious as it may sound, encryption is not only for spies or Neo from The Matrix. In fact, lots of people are using it for various purposes, the most general of them being increased security. But let’s start from the beginning.
What does encrypting your data actually do?
When you encrypt your phone, it means that the data stored on it (application data, files, contacts, messages and more) will be all jumbled up and appear as unreadable gibberish. The way to “unscramble” the content will be by entering a PIN or password (that you will be required to set in advance). What it basically does is protect your phone’s data from the wrong eyes – that is anyone who doesn’t know the PIN or password.
Why would you want to encrypt your phone?
If you believe your phone contains any kind of sensitive information, you may feel more in control knowing that that data in encrypted. It can be work-related files and documents that need to remain confidential, private information or super-secret research. Whatever it is you need to protect – encryption will do that.
As with most changes that you make in your phone, this one also comes with a few risks. You may experience a slow-down in performance and some standard actions may take longer than usual – however, that largely depends on your device’s hardware. Another thing to consider that once you do encrypt your phone, the only way to undo that is factory reset, which is a quite a drastic measure and the one that I personally dread.
Thus, the decision is yours. If you feel that protecting your phone’s data is worth the inconvenience – go on reading, while keeping the warnings in mind.
So how do I encrypt my phone?
The process in itself is not that complicated, but might take some time (depending on how much data you have stored on your device) and should not be interrupted. So make sure you have at least an hour before getting started.
Certain aspects may differ, depending on your particular phone model, but most of the steps should be universal.
The first thing you’ll need to do is enable Lock Screen on your phone and set up a PIN or Password. In order to do that – head over to Settings>Security>Screen Lock.
Second, make sure your battery is fully charged and your phone is connected to the charger throughout the encryption process.
Now – let’s move on to the encryption itself. In most models, you will need to go to Settings>Security>Encryption. Some models (like, for example, my HTC One) will have the Encryption feature in Storage. Once you locate it, click on Encrypt Phone/Phone Storage Encryption and read the warnings that will be shown in a pop-up window. They will relate to the things we have already discussed: that the process is irreversible and will take around an hour. Go ahead and tap Encrypt Phone.
(At this point you may get a notice asking you to connect your phone to the charger, if you haven’t done so already).
Finally, you will be asked to enter your PIN or password and once you do, the encryption process will start. It is very important that you do not interrupt it, as if you do, some or all (oh no!) of your data may be lost.
You will be able to monitor the progress of the encryption and know how much longer you’ll have to wait. Once it’s done – you can unplug your phone with its data all encrypted. From now on, you will have to enter a password or PIN to make the data on your device readable.