How do I turn on encryption on my Android phone?

Phone encryption protects the data stored on your Android device by transforming it into an unreadable format using encryption algorithms. Only authorized users with the correct cryptographic key can decrypt this data into a readable format (source:

Enabling encryption provides an important security measure against unauthorized access in case your phone is lost, stolen, or compromised. It ensures sensitive data like messages, contacts, photos, browsing history, and any personal apps and files are secure and remain private even if an attacker gains physical access to your device (source:

Modern Android phones have encryption capabilities built-in. However, it may need to be manually enabled in settings for optimal security. This article provides step-by-step instructions to encrypt your Android device.

Check if Your Phone Supports Encryption

Most Android phones running Android 7.0 or later support file-based encryption by default (Source: To check if your Android phone supports encryption:

  1. Go to Settings > Security & location or Settings > Security.
  2. Look for the “Encrypt phone” option. If this option is present, your phone likely supports encryption.
  3. You can also check your Android version under Settings > About phone. If your phone is running Android 7.0 or later, encryption should be supported.

Some older Android phones or phones with custom ROMs may not support encryption even if running newer Android versions. Check with your device manufacturer if unsure.

Back Up Personal Data

It is recommended to back up your personal data such as photos, files, contacts, etc. from your Android phone to the cloud or external storage before enabling encryption. This ensures your valuable data isn’t lost if there are issues with encryption or restoring your phone. Google Accounts provide secure cloud backups when enabled.

You can back up data using the built-in Backup and Restore facility in Android Settings. This automatically saves key data like apps with data, call history, device settings, SMS and MMS messages, Wi-Fi networks and passwords, and more to your Google Account cloud storage. It’s encrypted for security.

Enable Encryption in Settings

To enable encryption on your Android device, you’ll need to access the encryption settings which are typically located under Security in your device’s Settings app:

  1. Open the Settings app on your device
  2. Tap on Security & Location or Security depending on your Android version [1]
  3. Look for the Encryption option
  4. Tap on Encrypt Phone or Encrypt Device
  5. You may need to set a secure lock screen method like a PIN, pattern, or password if you haven’t already
  6. Tap Encrypt Phone again to confirm

The encryption process can take an hour or more to fully complete. Your device will reboot several times during the encryption process and you won’t be able to use it normally until the process finishes.

Encrypt External SD Card

If your Android phone supports removable storage like an external SD card, you may want to encrypt it for added security.

According to, you can encrypt your external SD card directly through your phone’s settings.

Go to Settings > Security and look for the “Encrypt SD Card” option. You will be prompted to enter your lock screen password or PIN. The encryption process may take an hour or more depending on the size of your SD card and can’t be reversed without reformatting your storage.

If you used your SD card to emulate internal storage (adoptable storage), the encryption for that will be handled the same as the main phone storage in some Android versions. However, it’s still better to select the explicit encryption option for your SD card if given a choice by your device.

Once encryption is complete, data on your external storage will be accessible only after unlocking your phone with the correct PIN or password. This protects the SD card contents in case it’s physically removed.

I included a citation from one of the provided sources on the process to encrypt external SD cards on Android. Let me know if you need any other changes or additions to this section.

Encrypt Specific Apps

There are several third party apps that can be used on an Android phone to encrypt specific data like files, photos, messages, and more. AxCrypt is one popular app that provides strong AES 256-bit encryption for files and folders.

To encrypt specific data with AxCrypt:

  • Download and install the free AxCrypt app from the Google Play Store
  • Open the app and choose the files, folders or photos you want to encrypt
  • Choose a password or key to encrypt it with

AxCrypt will then encrypt the selected data. To decrypt and access it again later, simply re-enter the password in the AxCrypt app. This provides encrypted protection for your sensitive files while keeping them conveniently accessible on your Android device.

Other top-rated encryption apps like Keeper, Folder Lock, and TunnelBear also allow encrypting specific data like files, photos, app data and browsing sessions.

Set Up Secure Lock Screen

To securely encrypt your Android phone, it’s crucial to set up a secure screen lock as well. The lock screen protects access to your encrypted device, enhancing the encryption security. Android allows you to choose from various types of secure locks such as PIN, password, pattern, or even biometric authentication like fingerprint or face unlock.

Of all options, a strong password of at least 8 characters is the most secure lock screen choice for an encrypted device according to the Android encryption documentation ( A long, complex alphanumeric password guarantees the highest level of protection for your sensitive data.

We also highly recommend enabling lock screen features like automatic locking after screen timeout to prevent unauthorized device access when unattended. You can further strengthen security by choosing to factory reset the device after 10 failed unlock attempts, erasing data if the password is cracked through brute force.

By enabling encryption alongside utilizing a strong password lock, you can ensure peace of mind that personal and sensitive data is protected in events like device loss or theft. The encryption keys will be cryptographically tied to your unlock credentials.

Encryption Status and Warnings

After enabling encryption on your Android device, you may notice some changes and see warnings related to encryption. Here’s what to expect:

You can check the encryption status by going to Settings > Security > Encryption on your device. This will show whether encryption is active and enabled for your device storage and SD card.

When encryption is first enabled, your device may restart and you will need to enter your lock screen password/PIN/pattern to decrypt the device each time it starts up. This is normal.

You may see warnings about “credentials not backed up” after enabling encryption. This is because encrypted devices cannot use Android’s standard backup system. Make sure to separately back up any sensitive data.

Encrypted devices can take longer to boot up and open apps. This is because data needs to be decrypted on-the-fly during use. For optimal performance, restart your device periodically.

If you forget your lock screen credentials, you will no longer be able to access data on an encrypted device. Make sure to back up credentials separately in case they are forgotten.

Overall, the tradeoff for enhanced security with encryption is some loss of convenience and performance. This is normal, but can be minimized by following best practices.

Encryption Troubleshooting

If you run into issues enabling or using encryption on your Android device, there are some troubleshooting steps you can try:

Encryption Unsuccessful Error

One of the most common errors is seeing a message saying “Encryption unsuccessful” when trying to turn on encryption. There are a few potential causes for this:

  • Insufficient account login credentials – Make sure you are properly logged into your Google account.
  • Faulty hardware issue – Try rebooting your phone or performing a factory reset if the issue persists. Several Android models have had hardware issues that prevent encryption.
  • Unknown software bug – If rebooting or resetting doesn’t work, you may be dealing with a buggy software issue. Check if the Android OS is fully up to date.

For hardware or software issues, you can try troubleshooting tips from this source and this source.

Disappearing Encryption

In some cases, encryption gets turned off or disappears without you manually disabling it. This can happen after certain system updates or recovery operations. To fix this:

  • Go back into Settings > Security > Encryption and re-enable it
  • Be prepared to fully reboot the phone after making the change

If encryption disappears again after following those steps, you may need to perform a complete factory reset on your device.

Maintaining Encryption

To keep your data secure long-term when using Android encryption, it’s important to follow best practices like setting a strong password and enabling lock screen notifications.

Choose a password that is at least 6 characters, includes numbers, symbols, and upper and lower case letters (Source). Avoid using personal information. Update your password every few months to stay ahead of potential brute force cracking attempts.

You should also enable lock screen notifications in your Android settings. This will hide sensitive content from view when your phone is locked (Source).

Check your encryption status occasionally in the security settings. Watch for any alerts about encryption issues. Reboot your device if you get warnings about encryption not activate properly after an OS update or other system change.

Following these tips will help ensure your encrypted Android phone stays secure and your personal data remains inaccessible to unauthorized parties even if the device is lost, stolen, or compromised in some other way.

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