Reset your phone and post reset tasks for Windows Phone 8.1‏

It's the end of the year and Windows Mobile 10 still hasn't arrived on older devices such as the Lumia 925. Sadly, Microsoft was unable to take advantage of the goodwill brought on by Windows 10, Surface Pro and Xbox One's minor 2015 successes. On the other hand, it could be a strategic but controversial retreat as Microsoft might be waiting for an opportune time to spring the Surface Phone to the unsuspecting masses. On one hand, the Surface brand may just help Windows 10 Mobile grab a foothold in the congested smartphone market. On the other, Microsoft is sure to alienate current Lumia and Windows Phone 8.1 users like myself if they focus on the Surface Phone and ignore existing devices.


I haven't tried the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build because Windows Phone 8.1 on the Lumia 925 is more than adequate. Moreover, Windows 10 Mobile doesn't seem to have any compelling features to warrant installation of an unfinished build. However, after two years of running the Lumia 925, my 925 had only 1.5GB left of its 16GB of internal memory and was more likely riddled with leftover muck from 2 years of usage.

Note: For all the complaints leveraged against the Windows Phone platform, the mobile OS surprisingly holds up for a long period of time without maintenance. Apart from visible lag when switching from one app to another, Windows Phone 8.1 doesn't fall apart as badly as some Android implementations when left untended for more than a year.


Although the Lumia 925 doesn't have a microSD slot, backing up SMS, photos and app settings isn't much of an issue because it only has 16GB of internal memory. Lumia Denim has a backup option to backup to a folder in the internal memory but a clean reset to Lumia Cyan removed this option from my Lumia 925. It's not a deal-breaker since my OneNote and Excel files and messages/contacts are synced to OneDrive automatically.


As with iOS and Android, however, I had to list down all the apps I wanted on my Lumia before performing the reset. The My apps option in Microsoft Store follows Apple and Google's approach and lists all previously downloaded apps. Keeping track of apps you don't want on your device is easy enough though.

Reset your phone

To reset your Windows Phone 8.1 device:

1. Connect your device to a power source.
2. Tap Settings > About > Reset Your Phone > Yes > Yes

As with Windows devices, it's always best to have a clean install if you want to experience the benefits of resetting your smartphone. If you enabled the Backup option in Settings, Windows Phone 8.1 offers to reload your most recent backup.


The reset process doesn't take very long for WP8.1 and two reboots take you to the language screen, which has changed a lot from the preinstalled WP OS when I first purchased the Lumia 925.


Post Reset Tasks

Anyone who has regularly maintained a Linux or Windows machine knows how great a system feels after a clean install. It's the same for Windows Phone devices. After the reset, my device had close to 12GB of available internal memory and less than two dozen preinstalled apps.

Having purchased the Lumia 925 in China, the device had previously been installed with mobile provider apps. Although the China Unicom logo is still displayed on power up and 4-5 nice wallpapers from the telco were still on the device after reset, all of the preinstalled Chinese telco apps were cleared out.

A fresh reset of Windows Phone 8.1 still includes some Microsoft apps and most of them are harmless such as Xbox Video, Cortana, Podcasts and Wallet. Unfortunately, I couldn't install from the list of apps although I was previously able to remove it from my device.

Some of the more important post-reset tasks are the following:

1. Sync your Microsoft account for OneDrive, OneNote and Mail apps. Google services and iTunes get plenty of press online but the Microsoft Account, after years of confusion thanks to constant rebranding (Live, Hotmail, Outlook), has finally reached a level of maturity. Syncing your or account on your WP takes care of OneDrive, e-mail, Calendar and personal backups.

2. Add languages and keyboards. If you are currently studying a foreign language, have plans to install foreign language apps, or you're multilingual, then install the languages you need after a device reset. Keyboards take a long time to download even over Wi-Fi.

3. Set a Lock screen password. Windows Phone 8.1 doesn't have the finicky PIN code issues with Windows 10 yet so setting up a lock screen password is straightforward and hassle-free. Tap Settings > Lock screen to add a password.


 4. App updates. If you selected the default settings after resetting your device, WP8.1 automatically downloads updates for preinstalled apps once you connect via Wi-Fi or a mobile network. The factory image of WP8.1 also needs some updates.

5. Disable shutter sound. Lumia devices are well-known for their excellent cameras. I actually prefer photos taken using the Lumia 925 over my newer Sony Xperia Dual C3. However, if you plan to take surreptitious photos of dastardly villains, you might want to disable the shutter sound whenever you press the trigger. Tap Settings > Ringtones+sounds and clear the Camera shutter option.

6. Various settings that affect power. Lumia and Windows Phone devices in general are not well-known for their battery life. There are various settings you can change to help extend battery life. You can disable Glance and set brightness to Low. You can also disable vibration when using navigation keys and use the Battery Saver option   

7. Disable Cortana if you don't need her. Not all users might want to use Cortana. For my part, it slowed down search functions on the Lumia 925 even if I was just working in Internet Explorer.


8. Download maps. My Lumia 925 has a bad habit of getting confused when I haven't used the location tracking feature in awhile, but Maps and Nokia HERE Maps work better on Windows Phones than they do in Android even in Chinese cities.

9. Customize the Start screen and theme.

10. Install your apps.


Windows Phone 8.1 may seem backward compared to recent versions of iOS and Android. However, advanced users already know you can set up your Lumia as an FTP server, connect to Linux machines and access streaming media with the right apps. Moreover, Windows Phone 8.1 is more than adequate for installing dictionaries, news apps, readers and multimedia apps such as MixRadio and VLC.


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