1. www_tgsnt_tv's Avatar
    A lot of people recommend to reset their phones after a major update, such as AU. I'm just wondering why most of them recommend hard reset instead soft? Doesn't soft reset do the same thing?
    09-09-2016 09:25 AM
  2. Saijin_Naib's Avatar
    Not even close.

    Consider a soft reset the same as a doing a cold reboot on a typical computer. It resets some cache and temporary storage. You should not lose any data, but you may find some of you recently changed settings may revert.

    Consider a hard reset the same as doing a reformat/reinstall of your operating system. You'll lose everything and must start fresh from the OOBE (Out-Of-Box-Experience).
    09-09-2016 10:01 AM
  3. gpobernardo's Avatar
    A soft reset has the same effect as removing the battery from your phone, putting it back in, and turning your phone on. It kills all running programs and reloads a predetermined OS state. Depending on the device, even the date and time of the device are reset (but are easily synchronized either over the Internet or through the mobile service provider).

    A hard reset wipes the phone clean of all personal data, only leaving the OS and the default apps intact. It does not always mean you will reset your phone back to it's "out of the box" state, since if you have installed an newer version of the OS a hard reset will not revert your phone back to an older OS version.

    Performing a hard reset before a major update minimizes the risk of encountering problems during the OS upgrade process, such as unwanted corruption.
    09-09-2016 10:07 AM
  4. www_tgsnt_tv's Avatar
    OK, so if I go to Settings ... System ... About and click on "Reset your phone" I'm doing the hard reset, correct?
    09-10-2016 09:01 AM
  5. mark233's Avatar
    OK, so if I go to Settings ... System ... About and click on "Reset your phone" I'm doing the hard reset, correct?
    Yes
    09-10-2016 09:07 AM
  6. RumoredNow's Avatar
    OK, so if I go to Settings ... System ... About and click on "Reset your phone" I'm doing the hard reset, correct?
    Yes
    Yes and no.

    IMHO the terminology on this board needs to be firmed up:

    • Soft Reset - reboots the phone and clears the cache and RAM. This is a button push method using either the Volume Down + Power (older phones) or just the Power Button (newer models) and holding the relevant buttons until the phone vibrates and reboots (about 10 seconds). Use this to solve minor glitches that may crop up.
    • Hard Reset - another button push method, but used to reflash the last OS version used which is stored in the recovery partition. Power off the phone > hold Volume Down > press Power > keep holding Volume Down until you see the exclamation (!) screen, then immediately release the Volume Down... Now tap Volume Up / Volume Down / Power / Volume Down... You should see the spinning gears and your phone will reflash the last OS version held in recovery. You do loose data, but get your phone back. Sign into your Microsoft Account and restore your backup during the set up.
    • Factory Reset - this is a software method. It will reflash the last OS version used which is stored in the recovery partition. Access this through Settings > System > About > Reset your phone. You should see the spinning gears and your phone will reflash the last OS version held in recovery. You do loose data, but get your phone back. Sign into your Microsoft Account and restore your backup during the set up.
    • Recovery - this is another software method and is done using the Windows Device Recovery Tool (WDRT) and requires a USB connection to desktop. It will return your device to a predesignated point of stability selected by Microsoft (and or the OEM partner). It may be the version on release of the device or at a predesignated Update point since release. This tool gets updated regularly and is an essential source of Firmware that may have been missed due to using Insider Rings or to revert from Insider builds. This is a tried and true method of getting a "clean install" as a bad entry in the device recovery partition may just perpetuate errors even through Hard Reset or Factory Reset.


    For reasons I can't explain, Hard Reset is used interchangeably for the (true) Hard Reset button push method and the Factory Reset software method. Likely this is due to the fact that they achieve the same result. I believe they are different methods and are deserving of a distinction.


    • If your phone is "locked up" and becomes unresponsive a Soft Reset should be attempted first. Don't jump to Hard Reset, use Soft Reset to try and get back to operating conditions. If the issues persist, Soft Reset the phone and attempt a Factory Reset next.
    • If your phone needs a refresh and you are able to access Settings, the Factory Reset should be preferred. Why? It is a prepackaged solution that should include coding to prep your phone for the reset. The system is given information that a reset is requested and it may then shut down properly and prepare itself for a reflash from the recovery partition.
    • If your device is unresponsive, WDRT should be the preferred method of recovery. Why? Again, software coding to prep the system. A stable point is established to reset to. Errors on the device are potentially much less able to perpetuate themselves. You may always climb back up in versions via OTA and/or Insider. WDRT is the best method to assure your Firmware is up-to-date.
    • In my opinion, Hard Reset should be the last resort. Why? It should really only be used if your phone is unresponsive and you are left with no alternative. Use Hard Reset only if you are "stuck" without any of the above options working or being available. Due to the unknown nature of what has borked your device, it may be in a position that the Hard Reset button pushes cannot provide the prep needed for the system to shut down properly and perform the reflash. It might be as potentially damaging to the system as shifting your vehicle into park while it is still rolling at speed.


    We get a lot of questions on the board about what reset to use and what is the difference. Using Hard Reset to refer to 2 methods (button push & software) only compounds the confusion.
    09-10-2016 01:16 PM
  7. mark233's Avatar
    ...seems I've always been a yes and no kinda guy .. lol
    libra89 and RumoredNow like this.
    09-10-2016 01:29 PM
  8. a5cent's Avatar
    Yes and no.

    IMHO the terminology on this board needs to be firmed up:

    • Soft Reset - reboots the phone and clears the cache and RAM. This is a button push method using either the Volume Down + Power (older phones) or just the Power Button (newer models) and holding the relevant buttons until the phone vibrates and reboots (about 10 seconds). Use this to solve minor glitches that may crop up.
    • Hard Reset - another button push method, but used to reflash the last OS version used which is stored in the recovery partition. Power off the phone > hold Volume Down > press Power > keep holding Volume Down until you see the exclamation (!) screen, then immediately release the Volume Down... Now tap Volume Up / Volume Down / Power / Volume Down... You should see the spinning gears and your phone will reflash the last OS version held in recovery. You do loose data, but get your phone back. Sign into your Microsoft Account and restore your backup during the set up.
    • Factory Reset - this is a software method. It will reflash the last OS version used which is stored in the recovery partition. Access this through Settings > System > About > Reset your phone. You should see the spinning gears and your phone will reflash the last OS version held in recovery. You do loose data, but get your phone back. Sign into your Microsoft Account and restore your backup during the set up.
    • Recovery - this is another software method and is done using the Windows Device Recovery Tool (WDRT) and requires a USB connection to desktop. It will return your device to a predesignated point of stability selected by Microsoft (and or the OEM partner). It may be the version on release of the device or at a predesignated Update point since release. This tool gets updated regularly and is an essential source of Firmware that may have been missed due to using Insider Rings or to revert from Insider builds. This is a tried and true method of getting a "clean install" as a bad entry in the device recovery partition may just perpetuate errors even through Hard Reset or Factory Reset.


    For reasons I can't explain, Hard Reset is used interchangeably for the (true) Hard Reset button push method and the Factory Reset software method. Likely this is due to the fact that they achieve the same result. I believe they are different methods and are deserving of a distinction.
    This is one of those "once in a blue moon" situations where I'm going to partly disagree with you RumoredNow ;-)

    It's only between the hard-reset and the factory-reset where we don't make a distinction. IMHO that's exactly as it should be.

    There is no relevant difference between a factory-reset and a hard-reset. Those are just two different ways of triggering the exact same restoration process. In either case the restoration process commences from the shutdown state. Triggering the reset from the UI is preferred because it's simpler. That's all. When I tell someone to do a hard-reset, I'm effectively asking them to restore the OS from a recovery-image that is stored on the phone on a hidden recovery-partition. That's the important part. How that recovery process is triggered is almost never important. That's why I consider both terms to be interchangeable. I call both a hard-reset.

    On the other hand, I think we already do differentiate quite well between a hard-reset and a recovery. A recovery differs from a hard-reset mainly in two ways:

    1. the recovery process is set into motion by the computer, so this works even with a bricked phone.
    2. one of the first things the recovery process does is it recreates the partitions on the phone and writes the recovery-image to the hidden recovery-partition.

    After step two the recovery process also does a hard-reset, which restores the OS partition from the freshly installed recovery-image. A recovery does more than a hard-reset, which is why I agree it's worth differing between the two. For the most part I think we do.

    Consider a hard reset the same as doing a reformat/reinstall of your operating system. You'll lose everything and must start fresh from the OOBE (Out-Of-Box-Experience).
    Windows 10 actually also supports a hard-reset. There is no need to use analogies, since it's actually the same feature. It's the "Reset Your PC" feature. After using this we're given the option to either "Keep my files" or "Remove everything". If we choose "Remove everything" we end up with the same result on our PC as we'd get with a hard-reset on our phone.

    If we should consider anything to be the analogy of a reformat/reinstall, that would be the recovery process, not a hard-reset.
    09-10-2016 02:23 PM
  9. RumoredNow's Avatar
    There is no relevant difference between a factory-reset and a hard-reset. Those are just two different ways of triggering the exact same restoration process. In either case the restoration process commences from the shutdown state.
    I'm still not convinced that Hard Rest will provide the system with the proper and safe shutdown sequences in every instance. If the system is in an unresponsive and distressed state, where is the guarantee that shutdown occurs correctly? To me this is the difference between Hard and Factory Resets and why I would rather use WDRT on an unresponsive phone. This is a recent change in my prioritizing of the various methods. I have no empirical evidence, just a bit of deductive and inductive reasoning...
    09-10-2016 02:36 PM
  10. a5cent's Avatar
    I'm still not convinced that Hard Rest will provide the system with the proper and safe shutdown sequences in every instance. If the system is in an unresponsive and distressed state, where is the guarantee that shutdown occurs correctly? To me this is the difference between Hard and Factory Resets and why I would rather use WDRT on an unresponsive phone. This is a recent change in my prioritizing of the various methods. I have no empirical evidence, just a bit of deductive and inductive reasoning...
    I don't think your cause for concern is justified.

    According to your own description, the first step for a hard reset is to "power off your phone". That's your proper and safe shutdown right there. If you can't do that proper shutdown for whatever reason, you'll end up pulling the battery, but that problem has nothing to do with any of the recovery processes you mentioned, nor does it have any impact on them.

    Even if an improper shutdown were to bork your OS partition, it's simply irrelevant, since neither the hard-reset or the recovery process boots from or is in any way dependent on the OS partition. Like I said, the second part of a recovery is also just a hard-reset, and when the hard-reset process formats the OS partition, that's the first time the OS partition is accessed in any way.

    In a nutshell, there is no connection between any recovery process and the OS partition. The OS doesn't have to do any preparatory work for a recovery or a hard-reset to work as expected.
    Last edited by a5cent; 09-10-2016 at 04:57 PM. Reason: formatting
    RumoredNow likes this.
    09-10-2016 03:43 PM
  11. RumoredNow's Avatar
    LOL You got me there.
    a5cent likes this.
    09-10-2016 03:49 PM
  12. a5cent's Avatar
    ^ Wasn't out to get you. Just wanted to help clear things up 🙂
    RumoredNow and gpobernardo like this.
    09-10-2016 03:57 PM
  13. Hooty69's Avatar
    Not getting an exclamation point will doing a factory reset on Lumia 640
    03-18-2018 06:38 PM

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