Encrypting your Android device
- 2 minutes to read
Device encryption protects your files and folders from unauthorized access if your device is lost or stolen. It makes the data inaccessible and unreadable to people who don't have a passcode.
Before you can access school or work resources, your organization might require you to:
Follow these steps to encrypt your device. Your device may restart several times. The name and location of the encryption option will vary depending on your device manufacturer and Android version.
- Open the Settings app.
- Type security or encrypt in the search bar to find related settings.
- Tap the option to encrypt your device. Follow the onscreen instructions.
- When prompted, set a lock screen password, PIN, or other authentication method (if allowed by your organization).
- To recheck settings, open the Company Portal or Microsoft Intune app.
- Company Portal users: Select your device and tap Check device settings.
- Microsoft Intune users: You'll have to wait until the page updates, but when it does, your encryption status should change to compliant.
Enable secure startup
Secure startup protects your device by requiring a password or PIN each time the device is turned on.
The name and location of the secure startup option can vary depending on your device manufacturer and Android version.
- Open the Settings app.
- Type secure startup in the app's search bar. a. If that doesn't bring up a matching result, try searching for Strong protection.
- Tap Secure startup > Require PIN when device turns on.
- When prompted, enter your device PIN.
- If you're going through device setup/enrollment, return to the app and select CONTINUE. If you received this message outside or after enrollment:
- Company Portal app users: Open the app, select your device, and then tap Check device settings.
- Microsoft Intune app users: Open the app, wait until the screen loads, and then your encryption status should change to compliant.
Set startup passcode
Once you encrypt your device and enable secure startup, you'll be prompted to set your device PIN, password, or other authentication method (if allowed by your organization). Competing that step will satisfy the startup passcode requirement.
To set a lock screen on your device or change the type that you're currently using:
- Open the Settings app.
- Type screen lock in the app's search bar.
- Tap Screen lock type.
- Tap the screen lock type you want to use and follow the onscreen instructions to confirm.
Issue: The encryption button is disabled.
Thing to try:
- Make sure your device is fully charged and plugged in. Encryption may take a while and requires a full battery.
Issue: You see a message saying that you still need to encrypt your device.
Things to try:
Still need help? Contact your company support (check the Company Portal website for contact information), or write the Microsoft Android team.
Everything you need to know about Android encryption
Encryption for Androids can be a confusing subject, with a broad set of manufacturers and tons of device models out in the market. Depending on the operating system of the device, each of these models may follow different methods when it comes to Android encryption.
In this blog, we’ll blog provide a basic overview of the encryption technologies used on Android, the need for Android encryption, and the best practices to follow when encrypting Android devices.
What is Android encryption?
Android encryption, or encryption in general, is the process of encoding data into an indecipherable format to make it incomprehensible to users without the proper credentials.
Once an Android device is encrypted, the system automatically encodes all user data on the device lock. Depending on the type of encryption, the device decrypts this data only after it successfully boots up, or after the user unlocks it with the correct password/touch ID/face ID/screen lock.
Why must you encrypt your phone?
Be it personal or corporate data, when using your Android device to store and access sensitive information, it is crucial to ensure that the device is encrypted. In today’s corporate environment, data breaches are on the rise. According to a data breach report by RiskBased security, almost 36 billion corporate records were breached in the first half of
Also, with employees gaining access to corporate files on their mobile devices, it becomes even more crucial to encrypt these devices. According to a financial data risk report from Varonis, nearly two-thirds of organizations have more than 1, sensitive files open to every employee. These figures point out the importance of setting up encryption policies in the enterprise.
Is it safe to encrypt my Android device?
It is generally safe to encrypt your Android devices. For the older device models, encrypting your Android can result in a drop in system performance. However, this performance drop becomes unnoticeable in the newer Android models. Also, it is worth mentioning that the encryption process is irreversible. Once performed, it can only be removed by a complete factory reset of the device.
What are the types of encryption used on Androids?
Android encryption generally falls under two categories. Full-disk encryption (FDE) and file-based encryption (FBE).
Full disk encryption
Full-disk encryption (FDE) requires encoding all the data on your device, including essential apps and services, and transforming it into illegible code. This data can then be decrypted only after the user successfully unlocks the Android device after booting up. The highlight when it comes to this technique is that all the data is encrypted using a single key.
In the case of full-disk encryption, the core functionalities of your Android device – including the alarms, accessibility services, and the ability to view caller IDs when receiving calls – are restricted until the device is unlocked with the correct credentials. When compared to file-based encryption, this technique provides greater security, at the cost of user convenience.
Android OS requirements for FDE
Android devices running OS versions above 3 supports full-disk encryption. However, FDE support has been discontinued for Android OS 10+ and is now completely replaced by FBE.
File based encryption
File-based encryption (FBE) on the other hand, ensures that the essential and non-essential apps and data are separated and encrypted with different keys. When it comes to FBE, the Android system provides two types of locations for storing encrypted data.
Device encrypted storage
The data in this location get decrypted only after the device completes boot up and reaches the lock screen. Only the essential apps, services and data – such as SMS apps, accessibility apps and Alarm apps – will be decrypted at this point.
Credential based encrypted storage
The data in this location, usually comprised of user data and apps, is decrypted only after the user has successfully unlocked the device from the lock screen, with the required credentials. However, it is worth noting that once the user has unlocked the device, the apps and data stored in this location do not get encrypted for the subsequent device locks. This data is re-encrypted only after a complete restart of the device.
Device encrypted storage ensures that access to essential apps and services are made available as soon as the device is successfully booted up.
Credential based encrypted storage ensures that until the device is unlocked with the proper credentials, the user apps and data on the device remain encrypted.
Overall, file-based encryption is usually preferred over FDE for commercial Androids due to the better convenience it offers for the users.
Android OS requirements for FBE
- Android devices running OS versions above 7 support file-based encryption.
- For Android devices 7 to 9, IT can set up either FDE or FBE, depending on enterprise requirements.
- For Android 10+ devices, only the FBE encryption technique is supported.
- However, for Android 9 devices that are updated to Android 10, it is not necessary to convert the encryption mode to FBE.
Is my Android device encrypted out-of-the-box?
Encryption for Android devices was introduced with Android OS version 3. However, for older models, Android encryption would have to be enabled manually. This was usually done because the encryption process for the older models would considerably reduce device performance.
With the introduction of newer models, Android devices began to be encrypted out-of-the-box. Today, any Android device with an OS version above 6, that has a legal license of GMS (Google Mobile Services), will always be encrypted out-of-the-box. These devices also support enrollment in the Android Enterprise program.
It is worth noting that any device enrolled in the Android Enterprise program must have encryption enabled mandatorily. If the device is not encrypted, the encryption process will automatically be enforced when enrolling in Android Enterprise.
Also, Android Enterprise devices with OS versions above 7, set in Profile Owner mode have the option to set up separate encryption keys for the personal and work container. This can be done by setting up a work profile password for the device.
- Android 5 devices updated to Android 6 do not require compulsory encryption.
- Android devices that use the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) framework may or may not be encrypted out-of-the-box, depending on the developer preference.
How do I manually enable Android encryption?
Morden Android devices are always encrypted out-of-the-box. However, in the case of older Android models, the device may or may not be encrypted. You can check the encryption status for Android devices by navigating to Settings > Security > Encryption. This tab shows whether the device is encrypted or not. In case the Android device is not encrypted, you can enable encryption from the same tab.
Before enabling encryption, there are a few things that the user must note to maintain a smooth encryption process.
Android encryption pre-requisites
- The device must have a charge of over 80%.
- The device must be plugged in before the encryption process begins.
- Rooted devices must temporarily be un-rooted to enable encryption. However, the device can be rooted after the encryption process is completed.
- The encryption process will take about hrs, during which no work can be performed on the device.
If the device accidentally shuts down before the encryption process is completed, the device is left in a partially encrypted state. In such cases, encryption must be performed again after factory resetting the device.
How do I choose between FDE and FBE on my Android?
Android devices with OS versions 7 to 9, comes equipped with the feature that allows users to choose between full-disk encryption and file-based encryption techniques to implement on their device.
To choose between full-disk encryption and file-based encryption methods, you will first need to enable ‘Developer options’ on your Android mobile.
How do I enable Developer options on Android?
To enable Developer options,
- Navigate to Settings>About phone, and tap on ‘Build number’ 7 times. You may also be asked to enter your password. On a successful attempt, a message will appear on your screen titled, ‘You are now a Developer’.
- You can now navigate to Settings>Additional settings>Developer options. (The location of the Developer options tab may vary depending on the device.)
Once you are at Developer options, select the tab, ‘Convert to file encryption’, and tap on ‘Wipe and convert’. The conversion process will take about hours to complete.
Converting from FDE to FBE or vice versa will require a complete factory reset of the device. Make sure to back up your data before conversion. You must also ensure that the device does not accidentally turn off during the conversion process.
Is it necessary to set a password to encrypt your Android device?
Unlike its desktop encryption counterparts like BitLocker for Windows and FileVault for macOS,
When it comes to encrypting Android devices, it is not mandatory to set up a device password.
However, the lack of a password will reduce the effectiveness of encryption on your Android device, and it is generally not advisable to set up encryption without a password.
For further clarity, let’s observe the effect of setting up a password on an encrypted Android device. We’ll consider the case for both full-disk encryption and file-level encryption solutions.
When enabling encryption using FDE, if a password is not set, the Android device is encrypted by a randomly generated key, hashed by a default password (“default_password”). This key is also signed by a trusted execution environment (TEE).
What is a Trusted execution environment?
A Trusted execution environment (TEE) is a secure part of the device that executes code with a high level of trust. Due to this factor, the data loaded in TEE can be executed, while ignoring the threats from the rest of the device. Hence, an app, data or software signed by a TEE may have a higher level of trust concerning validity and access control, when compared to other general-purpose software.
But, if a password/pattern/PIN is later set up by the user, the master key gets re-encrypted. However, no change in encryption occurs on any of the apps and user data.
In the case of FBE, files are encrypted with different keys that are unlocked separately. This includes the files in – device encrypted storage and credential-based encrypted storage.
In case a password is not set by the user, the data in credential-based encrypted storage is encrypted by a similar randomly generated key, signed by a TEE. When a password/PIN/pattern is set, this key is re-encrypted, ensuring that the encryption for apps and data remains unchanged.
What are the best practices for Android encryption
When enforcing encryption for Android devices, following certain practices will ensure that your Androids are secured and managed in the best possible way.
Use strong passwords
Enforcing a strong password on your Android device is a crucial factor when setting up Android encryption. Protecting your device with a password/PIN/pattern/touch ID/face ID further strengthens the security on your Android. Hexnode’s UEM solution enables you to enforce strong password policies on your managed Android devices, thereby protecting your data from potential breaches.
Monitor and manage encrypted devices
Once encryption has been completed, it is necessary for enterprises to manage these encrypted devices and monitor their status periodically. With Hexnode’s UEM solution, enterprises can easily manage and view all their encrypted devices from a remote centralized console. IT can also force encryption via Hexnode when enrolling devices in Android Enterprise, and mark unencrypted devices as incompliant.
Regularly back up data
Backing up your data at regular intervals ensures that the data remains safe even in the case of a corrupted drive or a device malfunction.
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Google introduced full-device encryption back in Android Gingerbread (x), but it has undergone some dramatic changes since then. On some higher-end handsets running Lollipop (5.x) and higher, its enabled out-of-the-box, while on some older or lower-end devices, you have to turn it on yourself.
Why You Might Want to Encrypt Your Phone
Encryption stores your phone’s data in an unreadable, seemingly scrambled form. (To actually perform the low-level encryption functions, Android uses dm-crypt, which is the standard disk encryption system in the Linux kernel. It’s the same technology used by a variety of Linux distributions.) When you enter your PIN, password, or pattern on the lock screen, your phone decrypts the data, making it understandable. If someone doesn’t know the encryption PIN or password, they can’t access your data. (On Android and above, encryption doesnt require a PIN or password, but its highly recommended since not having one would reduce the effectiveness of the encryption.)
Encryption protects the sensitive data on your phone. For example, corporations with sensitive business data on company phones will want to use encryption (with a secured lock screen) to help protect that data from corporate espionage. An attacker won’t be able to access the data without the encryption key, although there are more advanced cracking methods that make it a possibility.
If youre an average user, you may think you dont have sensitive data on your phone, but you probably do. If your phone is stolen, that thief now has access to your email inbox, your home address, and any number of other pieces of personal information. Granted, most thieves would also be deterred from accessing your data by a standard unlock code—encrypted or not. And, most thieves are more interested in wiping and selling the phone than accessing your personal data. But, it never hurts to keep that stuff protected.
Things to Consider Before Enabling Encryption
Most newer Android phones ship with encryption already turned on by default. If this is the case for your phone, there is no way to disable encryption. But if youre using a device that doesnt have encryption enabled out of the box, there are some things to consider before enabling it:
- Slower Performance: Once a device is encrypted, the data has to be decrypted on-the-fly every time you access it. Therefore, you may see a bit of a performance drop once its enabled, though its generally not noticeable for most users (especially if you have a powerful phone).
- Encryption is one-way: If you enable encryption yourself, the only way to undo the process is by factory resetting the device and starting over from scratch. So make sure youre sure before you start the process.
- If youre rooted, youll need to temporarily unroot: If you try to encrypt a rooted phone, youll run into problems. You can encrypt your rooted phone, but youll have to unroot it first, go through the encryption process, then re-root afteward.
These arent meant to deter you from encrypting your phone-—just to give you an idea of what caveats it comes with. For most people, we think the added protection is well worth it.
How to Enable Encryption in Android
Before you get started, there are a few things worth noting:
- Encrypting the device can take an hour or longer.
- Your devices battery must be at least 80% charged. Android wont even start the process otherwise.
- Your device must be plugged in throughout the entire process.
- Again, if youre rooted, be sure to unroot your phone before continuing!
Basically, make sure youve got plenty of time and battery before you start the process. If you interfere with the process or end it before its finished, you will likely lose all your data. Once the process is started, its best to just leave the device alone and let it do its thing.
With all the caveats out of the way, youre ready to encrypt your device.
Start by heading into the Settings menu and tapping on Security, again keeping in mind that the wording may be slightly different. If your device is already encrypted, it will show up here. Some devices will also allow SD card contents to be encrypted, but by default Android just encrypts on-board storage.
If the device isnt encrypted, you can start the process by tapping the Encrypt phone option.
The next screen will present a warning to let you know what to expect once the process is finished, most of which weve already talked about in this article. If youre ready to proceed, hit the Encrypt phone button.
One more warning will present itself (seriously, they want to make sure you know whats happening here), which tells you not to interrupt the process. If youre still not scared away, one more tap of the Encrypt phone button will do the trick.
The phone will then reboot and start the encryption process. A progress bar and estimated time till completion will show up, which should at least provide an idea of how long youll be without your beloved handset. Just wait, itll all be okay soon. You can do this. Youre strong.
Once its finished, the phone will reboot and youre back in business. If you set up a lock screen password, PIN, or pattern, youll have to put it in now so the device will finish the boot process.
If you havent set up a PIN or password, now is a good time to do so. Head into your devices Settings > Security menu. From there, select the Screen Lock option (keep in mind that the wording may be slightly different for non-stock Android handsets, like Samsung Galaxy devices).
Choose Pattern, PIN, or Password to set your security.
Youll be asked if you want to require the PIN, password, or pattern at startup. This is up to you, but we recommend choosing yes, since this increases the security of your device.
Note that even with a fingerprint reader, you cant use a fingerprint to unlock a device on first boot—youll have to put in the password, PIN, or pattern. After the device has been decrypted with the correct security unlocking method, the fingerprint reader can be used to unlock the screen moving forward.
From now on, your device will be encrypted, but if you ever want to disable it, you can do so by performing a factory reset. If you have a newer device that has encryption enabled out of the box, theres no way to remove said encryption—not even with a factory reset.
How to encrypt your Android device
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
There’s little doubt that keeping your personal data secure these days is pretty important, so it is fortunate that Android gives you the tools you need to secure your device right out of the box. If you have been wondering how to get started, this guide will walk you through how to encrypt your Android device.
What is device encryption and what does it do?
Before we go through how to enable it, it is probably best to understand what exactly encryption is and what the pros and cons are.
Device encryption is not a one-stop solution for protecting all of your data and information from prying eyes, especially when you are sending data over the internet. Instead, device encryption converts all of the data stored on your phone into a form that can only be read with the correct credentials. This goes above and beyond a regular lock screen password, as data can still be accessed from behind this screen with some specialized knowledge and use of recoveries, bootloaders, or the Android Debug Bridge.
Once encrypted, your music, photos, apps, and account data can’t be read without first unjumbling the information using a unique key. There’s a fair bit of stuff going on behind the scenes, where a user password is converted into a key that is stored in a “Trusted Execution Environment” to keep it secure from software attacks. This key is then required to encrypt and decrypt files, sort of like those alphabet cypher puzzles that scramble up letters.
With Android, this is very simple from a user’s viewpoint. You just enter your passcode whenever you boot up or unlock the device and all of your files will be accessible. This means that if your handset falls into the wrong hands, no-one else will be able to make sense of any of the data on your phone without knowing your password.
Before you leap in, there are a couple of points to consider. Firstly, opening up encrypted files requires additional processing power, so this will take a slight toll on the performance of your handset. Memory reading speeds can be a lot slower on older devices, but the performance hit in the vast majority of regular tasks is only very minor, if even noticeable at all.
Secondly, only some smartphones will offer an option to remove encryption from your handset. Encryption is a one way only process for most smartphones and tablets. If your handset doesn’t offer an option to decrypt the entire phone, the only option is to perform a complete factory reset that removed all of your personal data from the device. So check this out with your manufacturer beforehand.
With that out of the way, let’s explore how to turn encryption on.
How to encrypt my Android device?
Device encryption works in the much the same way across all Android devices, but the methods for enabling it have changed ever so slightly over the years. Most devices come with encryption enabled by default these days, particularly those running newer versions of Android. If your phone doesn’t have it enabled, you can do it manually with just a few taps.
Android or higher
For Android handsets and tablets running Android Lollipop or newer, you can navigate straight to the “Security” menu under settings. Getting here might be slightly different depending on your OEM, but with stock Android, this can be found under Settings > Personal > Security.
Here you should see an option to “Encrypt phone” or “Encrypt tablet”. You’ll be asked to plug your phone in to charge while the process takes place, just to make sure that your phone doesn’t shut off and cause errors. If you haven’t done so already, you will be prompted to set a lock screen PIN or password, which you will need to enter when you turn your phone on or unlock it in order to access your newly encrypted files. Be sure to remember this password!
Android or lower
If you’re running a handset with Android KitKat or lower, you will have to set up a PIN or password before starting up the encryption process. Fortunately, this is simple enough. Head on over to Settings > Security > Screen Lock and either pick a pattern, numbered PIN, or mixed password for your lock screen. This will be the same password used after encryption, so make a note of it.
Once that’s done, you can go back to the Security menu and hit “Encrypt phone” or “Encrypt tablet.” You’ll need to have your phone plugged in and read through the warning messages, and you will almost certainly have to confirm your PIN or password one last time before the encryption process starts.
Encrypting your phone can take an hour or more, depending on how powerful your handset is and the amount of data that you have saved on the device. Once the process is finally finished, you can enter your PIN and start using your newly encrypted device.
Back in the Security menu, you will also likely spot an option to encrypt files on your microSD card as well. This is a recommended step if you want to keep all of your data secure, but it isn’t really necessary if you’re just using your microSD card to save music or films that aren’t particularly personal.
There are a few caveats here too. Firstly, you will no longer be able to use your microSD card with other devices without completely removing the encryption first, as other phones or computers won’t know the key. Although an encrypted microSD card is still completely transparent to move files to and from over USB, just so long as you access the encrypted files from the phone used to encrypt it. Furthermore, if you reset your device before selecting decrypt, then the encryption key will be lost and you won’t be able to gain access to the secure files on your microSD card. So think about this one carefully.
And you’re done
That’s it. It really is that simple to encrypt Android devices and is a great way to keep your data a lot more secure. There are minimal trade-offs in terms of performance, but any differences should be very hard to notice on modern handsets.
Extra options with third-party apps
If you don’t fancy committing yourself to full device encryption, there are a small number of Encrypt Android apps in the Play Store that offer up a section of different features, including single file, text, and folder encryption options.
SSE – Universal Encryption App
The app also features a text encryptor and a password vault. The text editor can be used for keeping encrypted notes and these can be shared across platforms. The vault is designed to store and manage all of your passwords, PINs, and notes in one secure place protected by one master password. Sort of like an encrypted LastPass on your device.
Download the app
Crypto Ghost – File Encryption
It’s not possible to encrypt files to share using the default Android method, as they are decrypted on the device first and you can’t reproduce keys for use on other devices. So this is a handy solution for sharing files that you might not want others to see.
Download the app
Safe Camera – Photo Encryption
Once you’ve taken your pictures, you can share them using your master password for the app, a unique password, or even decrypt them if you want to. There’s an option to import and secure existing photos, and the app also supports GIFs.
Speaking of communication, there are also a number of apps that offer encrypted communications over both the web and text. Although these apps require you to set-up and share keys with your partners, so there’s a fair bit more work involved here.
Download the app
New Android security and encryption features
As mentioned, most new Android smartphones have device encryption turned on automatically. A big change that was introduced a couple of years ago with Android Nougat was Direct Boot. Before Direct Boot, your entire encrypted phone would be locked down until you enter the password. Since Nougat, the system allows a small selection of software to run as soon as you turn on your phone. This means that phone calls, alarms, and the like can right away from boot, while apps that you download and more personal data won’t work until you enter the password.
This was a part of Google’s revised approach to encryption, which saw the old entire partition encryption method replaced by file-level encryption. File-level encryption is faster on older devices because the system doesn’t have to decrypt huge chunks of data all at once. This method has the added benefit of granting apps much finer control over the data that is and isn’t decrypted, which can significantly improve security in the event that a system is compromised.
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Google continued to further improve its security features with Android Oreo with more granular control over app permissions, additions to the Verified Boot feature, native two-factor authentication support, and more. More importantly, Oreo also introduced enhanced encryption for the enterprise. All devices are able to utilize separate encryption keys for personal and work profiles. Device administrators are also given the ability to activate work profile keys remotely to ensure complete data protection. Oreo also brought Project Treble with it, which was another big step to ensure faster delivery of software and security updates.
Android Pie introduced some key privacy and encryption features as well. Apps running in the background no longer have access to the mic and camera and other sensors (other than GPS). Also huge is the addition of client-side encryption.
While all data backed up from your Android device to Google’s servers is encrypted, it is encrypted by Google for Google. In other words, Google can still technically access it. With Android Pie, backups are encrypted with a client-side secret. As before, your data travels over a secure, encrypted connection to Google’s servers, but the actual data is encrypted using a password that only you know. This also means your PIN, pattern, or password is required to restore data from the backups.
With Android 10, Google took things a step further. All phones running the latest version of Android have to be encrypted by default, including entry-level devices. These were previously exempt since they lack the hardware required for advanced encryption. Not anymore. With Android 10, Google introduced Adiantum, which is a new method of encryption that works on the most budget of budget phones (including Android Go phones) and can even work on things like smartwatches and smart TVs.
Android 10 also adopts TLS , which encrypts and secures the traffic from your phone to whatever internet-based service you are connecting to. In other words, that purchase you want to make while surfing the Wi-Fi at Starbucks is now forcibly protected.
Additionally, Google introduced several other privacy features with Android You no longer have to give an app full permission to things like location and microphone. Instead, you can give the app permission to use that stuff only while it’s active. Apps can also no longer access device information like the serial and IMEI number.
Given the amount of sensitive personal information that we keep on our mobile devices these days, including banking details, encrypting your Android device is a very sensible decision. There are quite a few options out there offering various levels of security, from system-wide Android encryption to apps dedicated to protecting more specific files. Keep in mind though, encryption won’t give you complete protection from everything, but it offers excellent protection in the case of stolen devices.
How ToAndroid Security
Android device encryption
With data breaches, leaks and hacks occurring on a regular basis, users are paying more and more attention to online security and encryption technology. However, someone gaining physical access to your device is an often-overlooked avenue of attack. To protect against this, we’ll show you how to encrypt Android devices and keep your apps, accounts and personal data safe.
How to Enable Encryption on Android
Enabling device encryption on your Android device is a very straightforward process, and many phones even have it enabled right out of the box. In order to complete the encryption process, your phone must be unrooted (we’ll discuss this more later), plugged in and have at least 80 percent battery remaining.
If the process is interrupted for any reason, you’re likely to lose access to all the data on your device. Thus, it’s advisable to run a full backup first, just to be safe. The best way to go about backing up your data is by using an online backup service app, so head over to our best online backup for mobile guide if you don’t already have one.
Although a dedicated backup service is always your best bet, there is also a built-in backup feature in Android itself. While not as good as, say, IDrive (read our IDrive review), which is our top pick for mobile backup services, it’s still good enough for a one-time job, so head over to our guide on how to backup Android to learn all about it.
The device encryption process varies slightly depending on what version of Android you have, so follow the relevant steps below for your Android version. It may also vary depending on what company built your device, as different OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) sometimes have different menu options.
If you’re not sure what version of Android is running on your phone, you can easily check this by entering the settings, tapping “about phone” and scrolling down to the section labelled “Android version,” where you should see the version number.
Encrypting Android and Lower
If your device is running Android (Gingerbread), then your best bet for accessing the encryption feature is by signing up for Microsoft Exchange and encrypting your device that way. Alternatively, if your phone is a Samsung Galaxy S, S2 or S Plus, you can download an app to enable encryption without the need for an Exchange account.
For Android (Honeycomb) and up, the process is significantly easier. You first need to enable the lock screen, which you can find by entering the settings and then selecting “security.” From here, tap “screen lock” and choose your preferred method of authentication.
Once the lock screen is set up, you can return to the security settings and tap “encrypt phone.” You’ll be given an initial warning, followed by a prompt for your method of authentication (for example, your PIN).
After dismissing the second warning, your device will begin the encryption process. This should take about an hour and the process cannot be interrupted, so make sure to leave the device alone until it’s finished. Once complete, the device will reboot, and all your data should now be encrypted and protected from potential theft.
How to Encrypt Android And Lower
- Open the Android settings from the apps menu
- Tap “security”
- If no lock screen is set, tap “screen lock”
- Choose your preferred method of authentication (slide, pattern, PIN or password)
- Return to security settings
- Tap “encrypt phone”
- Dismiss the first warning
- Enter your PIN or password
- Dismiss the second warning
- Wait for your phone to be encrypted
Encrypting Android and Higher
If your Android device is running version and higher, chances are encryption is already enabled by default. If it’s not, the steps to enable it are once again fairly straightforward. The exact names of the menus can vary a bit depending on your phone’s manufacturer, but overall there shouldn’t be too much of a difference.
Start by entering the Android settings and navigate to the “security” menu (sometimes called “security & location”). From here, you might already see an entry to encrypt your phone. If not, look for a menu called “encryption & credentials,” where you’ll find the aforementioned setting.
If your phone is already encrypted by default, it will say so here, and if so, your work is done and you can disregard the rest of the steps. On the other hand, if it’s not encrypted, proceed by tapping the “encrypt phone” setting, at which point you’ll be presented with two separate warnings covering all the precautions mentioned earlier in this article.
Once you’ve tapped through these warnings, your phone will begin the encryption process. This should take about an hour to finish, so simply put your phone down and leave it alone until the process is complete. This is important, as any interruption can result in the complete loss of all your data, with no way to recover it, as it will have been already partially encrypted.
Although Android and up does not require users to turn on a lock screen to enable device encryption, it’s still highly recommended that you do so anyway, as an encrypted phone without some form of authentication is not really protected at all.
How to Encrypt Android and Above
- Enter the Android settings
- Tap “security” or “security & location”
- Select “encryption & credentials” and/or “encrypt phone”
- Dismiss the warnings
- Wait for your phone to be encrypted
What Happens When You Encrypt Your Phone
In basic terms, encryption is a process that uses a key to “scramble” a user’s data, making it unreadable to anyone without the key to “unscramble” it again.
Obviously there’s a lot more to it behind the scenes, with different forms of encryption performing the intended task in different ways. For a more in-depth look at encryption technology, in general, check out our description of encryption.
Devices running Android (Marshmallow) and earlier use full-disk encryption based on dm-crypt and are protected by an AES bit key. Because nothing on the disk can be read without authentication, no apps will be able to perform their tasks if your device has rebooted and you haven’t yet entered your password.
For the most part, this isn’t a huge problem. However, in the case of an unexpected reboot, some apps, such as alarms and reminders, will not go off until users authenticate themselves.
Encryption Changes in Android
This problem was solved with Android (Nougat), which changed the encryption process to a file-based one and introduced “direct boot,” allowing certain apps (such as alarms) to operate in a limited capacity, even without signing into the device with your password or PIN. The new file-based encryption also upped the key size to AES bit, greatly improving security.
With either method, encryption is one-way, which means that once you’ve completed the process and encrypted your device, there’s no way to turn it off again without performing a complete factory reset on the encrypted device.
Furthermore, you may experience a slight hit to performance especially if your device is old as all the files on your phone must be decrypted in real time as you attempt to access them. However, for newer and more powerful devices, this should barely be noticeable, as they should be more than capable of performing the extra computations.
If your device is rooted meaning you’ve gained full admin access (or root access) to the Android subsystems it can’t be encrypted straight away. Rather, you’ll first have to unroot your device and then enable encryption before subsequently rooting it again.
This is incredibly important to bear in mind, as attempting to encrypt a rooted device can have catastrophic consequences for any data you haven’t backed up.
Can I Encrypt My Android Phone?
Encryption was added to Android phones all the way back in version (Gingerbread), which was released in That said, the setting was not easily accessible without some hacks before version (Honeycomb) on tablets and version (Ice Cream Sandwich) on smartphones, both released in
Thus, unless you’re running a version of Android from almost a decade ago, you should be able to easily encrypt your device and ensure that your personal data is protected. On the other hand, if you’re still using a device running Android , the process becomes significantly more complicated, requiring third-party applications and accounts.
There you have it, everything you need to know about encrypting your Android phone or tablet. For new devices, chances are device encryption is already enabled, but if not, it’s one of the biggest steps users can take toward ensuring they’re protected if their device is stolen or lost.
As a final warning, make sure that you take the recommended precautions before starting the encryption process. Backup your sensitive data using the best cloud storage for Android, such as Sync.com, which is an excellent choice (read our Sync.com review).
You also need to ensure that the device isn’t rooted, and take care to leave it alone and plugged in until it’s finished encrypting. Failure to follow these precautions can result in the loss of all your data, with no way to recover it again.
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What do you think of our guide? Did you find it easy to follow, or were any of our steps unclear? Perhaps you ran into some error or problem not covered in this guide? Let us know in the comments below, and check out our guide on how to encrypt text messages, too. Thank you for reading.
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