The option of encrypting your Android phone might be there, somewhere in the security settings, but most of the users might not be aware of it. Even if you are, you might wonder whether to use it or not. For the latter, here’s a guide explaining what that exactly does, and why you should use it, if you have personal data on your smartphone.
Android encryption basically means that if your device is lost or stolen, the confidentiality of data is protected because anyone other than you cannot bypass the lock, and it isn’t a simple password locking involed here. It is the best possible way to get your data secured. The data is encrypted and that needs your password to get decrypted before you get access to it.
The usage of smartphones has increased by over 400% in the last four years, which directly indicates that the usage of smartphones in the day-to-day life is growing more rapidly than any other devices. We all have our personal details stored in our smartphones, including bank details, emails, contacts, images and even personal photos.
It isn’t uncommon for users to lose their smartphone, and thus, encryption helps at least in keeping the data inaccessible, if it doesn’t help you in getting the device back. If you are wondering how is this different from the standard lock screen, the lock screen although doesn’t give users an acccess to the data directly, there are ways they can get access to it even with little knowledge. The encryption on the other hand, doesn’t allow that to happen, until the actual passcode is entered. It keeps the data unreadable, and decrypts only when unlocked.
While we’ve talked and now know how useful encryption of Android data is, let’s talk of the major drawbacks of encrypting an Android phone. There are two major drawbacks, and both are interlinked to each other. Encryption of data is a heavy process, and it puts a load on the processor as the entire data on the device gets encrypted, and thus, even the battery life of the phone is affected. This encryption happens once, but decrypting all the data happens every time you unlock your phone. Fair to say that the performance of the Android smartphone gets compromised if you choose to encrypt it.
Earlier, encryption wasn’t easy and a direct way, although it was available as an option since the introduction of Android 3.0 Honeycomb version, it is now far easier and a direct way in Android 5.0 Lollipop. The availability of this option still depends on the ROM, as some of them don’t allow encryption of data. In majority of smartphones, encryption is limited to only the internal storage, but brands like Samsung allow encryption of even external SD cards.
How to encrypt your Android phone
Open settings, and then go to Security to set a password. Once you are done with that, go to Encrypt Device (under the same Security settings), read the warnings and click the “Encrypt Device” button.
Note: This whole process takes more than an hour to complete, based on the size of data. Keep your charger connected, so that it will not shut down while doing the operation. If not, you may lose your data. Even while being charged, the battery level needs to be above 80% for the encryption to start.
After several boot-ups, it may ask you to enter the password created earlier. By entering the password, you are decrypting the data and using it the same way as it was without the encryption.
Note: Encryption usually doesn’t do anything wrong with the device data, but why not take some precautions and take a backup of some important files?