It’s been a while. We were hit with a particularly nasty virus, and we suffered it sequentially, so it took a good three weeks to clear the house. And another week or two to recover.

But! I succeeded in encrypting my phone over the weekend.

I had this on my list for locking down my private data, but put it off because it seemed daunting. At least, the email encryption was a task, and I wasn’t ready to tackle the next one.

James mentioned something about wiping his phone and I said, “Yes! I want to do that!”

My phone is a mess. This seemed like a good time to start over.

James wiped the phone for me, but it’s a very simple process. This is for an Android phone, which is what we have:

Back up your data. I use Google (which is another can of worms on the privacy front), but there is also an Android app you can use, which I believe James does.

Go into Settings. Find Backup and Reset (under User and backup). Choose Factory data reset.

If you are really paranoid, you can then load “dummy” data (photos and files), and wipe it again, repeat until you feel secure, so that your “real” data is hidden under layers of dummy data. I did not do this.

When the phone starts up again, you can choose from a list of apps to reinstall, if you’d like. If you reinstall at this stage, your data will be reinstalled with them.

Once you have everything (or nothing) restored, you can encrypt.

I did find one site that recommended encrypting before wiping, so that anything that was left after the wipe would be unreadable to prying eyes. I┬ádidn’t do that.

To encrypt, go into Settings. Under System, choose Security. Under Encryption, choose Encrypt Phone.

Your phone has to be charged and plugged in to encrypt. The popups warn it will take an hour. With my newly wiped phone with several apps reinstalled, it took less than 20 minutes.

Once that is done, go back to Settings –> Security –> Encryption and choose Encrypt SD Card. Again, it warns you this might take an hour. Mine was empty; it took about 30 seconds.

Now that your phone and SD card are encrypted, you should probably set a password on your lock screen (Settings –> Lock screen) and choose secure start up (Settings –> Security).

And that’s it. Super simple.