Every version of Android since Android 3.0 Honeycomb has had a feature called Full Disk Encryption, but with Android 5.0 Lollipop Google promised to make this enabled by default. Here we’ll explain how to enable or turn on Encryption for your Android smartphone or tablet.
Google recently flip-flopped on that promise of having all devices encrypted, and stated it will be an option but not enabled by default for all Android 5.0 and above devices. This is because as it stands now, encryption comes with a slight compromise to performance. Without getting into Full Disk Encryption too much, or how it works, as Google’s posted plenty of information, here we’ll simply explain how to turn it on.
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FDE essentially blocks all your data, information, and files behind a secure encrypted wall and password or pin. And while it doesn’t have to have a PIN or password to work, that’s the most secure method. This is something many companies require if you’re using your own device, rather than a company device, so that’s why we’re talking about how to enable it.
You can turn on encryption without using any screen security, but the way it works means you need to protect your phone with a lock screen password to be most secured. This can be a regular password, a PIN, or a pattern lock. The system will use this to unlock the phone and decrypt the data on the disk. Again, we’re not talking about all the details with encryption, rather, how to enable it on Android 5.0 and above devices.
To start, users will want to head into settings by tapping the gear-shaped icon in the notification bar, or finding the settings app in your application tray. Once you’re in settings scroll down to Security, and then add a password, pin, or lockscreen security of choice.
If you did set a pin or password, write it down or remember it. You’ll need this to turn on and use your encrypted and protected device. Otherwise you’ll have to do a factory data reset to use your phone or tablet, which will erase all user data.
The next step is the important one, and you’ll need your phone to be fully charged, and also plugged in to encrypt the device. This often takes over an hour, so have time set aside to let this complete. If you interrupt the process or unplug your device, you may lose important data. So make sure you follow the encryption instructions on your device to the T. We’re doing this on the Moto G, but the process should be similar or the same on all Android 5.0 and above devices.
In the same settings > security tab you’ll see an option to Encrypt your phone or tablet. Tap this, and follow the instructions then hit Encrypt Phone. Here you’ll once again be reminded about the battery, and being plugged in, and this is extremely important.
Once the process (which can take over an hour) is done, your device will reboot and if you added a password you’ll be asked to enter this to continue using your device. That’s all you’ll have to do, and you’re done. Your Android smartphone is now completely safe, and using Google’s newest Full Disk Encryption security feature.
You’ll need the password or PIN every time you use turn on your phone, otherwise everything will be locked out. This is more than just a lockscreen security measure, it hides all your data behind a 128-bit AES encryption. This makes all your data, files, and information extremely safe from prying eyes.
We’ve heard enabling this causes a slight slowdown in general performance on devices, as everything needs to be decrypted on the fly while you’re using your smartphone, apps, pulling up files or documents, and more. There is a big ongoing debate on most Android forums about encryption, if it should be used, and how strong the security really is. Not everyone needs it, but at least it’s now an easy option with Android 5.0 Lollipop. This all aside, if you need encryption the steps above are all you need to do to complete the process. It’s fairly straightforward, so give it a try today.