Android encryption offers a greater level of security for your data, but it’s not for everyone. Check out the pros and cons in order to make an informed decision.
Android encryption offers added security for the data stored on your phone. Although that sounds like a no-brainer, it’s important to consider all angles before you decide to encrypt your phone. As with everything, there are both pros and cons to having this done.
Pros of having an encrypted Android phone
Increased data security
The obvious advantage of encrypting your Android device is that it makes your data much more secure. If your phone is lost or stolen, you don’t need to worry about your personal or business data being accessed and used against you. Only someone with the right password can access encrypted data.
This is especially important if you have sensitive information, such as credit card information or bank details, stored on your Android phone. At the very least, your phone contains the passwords to all the web sites you have visited on it.
It keeps your data safe even if you sell your phone
If you decide to sell your phone, you will probably do a factory reset to remove all your files and data from the device. Unfortunately, if someone really wants to, they would still be able to access your data.
This is because when data is deleted, it isn’t really deleted. It sounds daft I know but bear with me. What actually happens is that the data is marked as ok to be overwritten. It isn’t really gone until something else is saved in its place. If no new data is stored in that location, the old data is still there and accessible.
That’s right, data can still be left on your phone even after a factory reset. A University of Cambridge study showed the extent of the problem. Especially important data can be left behind that can even include access tokens from your apps. These are the codes your phone uses so that you don’t have to enter your password every time you open an app such as Facebook. Having these left behind means that the next person to have your phone could gain access to your Facebook profile or other social media accounts.
It’s not a problem though if the data had been previously encrypted.
Cons of having an encrypted Android phone
Encryption can’t be reversed
If you encrypt your phone and then change your mind, it’s too late. The only way to go back to an unencrypted system is via a factory reset, which will also wipe all the data from your device.
It takes quite a long time
Encrypting your phone can take an hour or more, especially if you have a lot of data on your phone. Your phone will need to stay plugged in during this time.
It can have a negative effect on your phone’s performance
After encrypting your Android phone, you may find that its performance is more sluggish than before. Encryption has been known to make phones and tablets run more slowly. The better your hardware is, the less this will be an issue. If your phone is an older or cheaper model, it could be a major drama.
In addition to these considerations, the latest phones from Google, the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9, are automatically encrypted and the choice is taken out of your hands. There are rumours though that an update is coming that will give Nexus 6 and 9 users the choice to not to have their phones encrypted.