Mar 31st, 2014

There is nothing more frustrating than having to setup a phone after a fresh factory data reset. It usually involves countless hours of downloading and reinstalling apps, logging in, setting up your home-screen and getting your settings exactly the way you want them. It can be mundane, annoying, and a complete time suck.

That’s why we felt it necessary to warn you about a new feature on the all new HTC One M8 that might sneak up on you one day and make your life a living hell. If you input your lock-screen pattern or password incorrectly 10 consecutive times, the phone will proceed to automatically wipe all your data as if you’d done a factory reset from the settings menu.

Need proof? Resident masochist Rob Jackson did the deed on video, showing you the unfortunate result of being a forgetful person. The phone doesn’t give you any chance to reverse the action once you’ve reached that point, so if you’ve forgotten your pattern you’ll want to think long and hard each time you make an attempt, as there’ll be no turning back if you can’t successfully get in.

htc one m8 lock

There’s no setting to disable this behavior from what we can tell, which leaves it open to potential abuse. Perhaps a scorned loved one is upset with you and wants to do something to make you mad. Maybe your children want to play Angry Birds and they are repeatedly failing to input your password. These scenarios and many more could definitely spell trouble to even the most careful users.

Thankfully the HTC One M8 does give ample warning to the user before this process occurs. After the first 5 unsuccessful attempts, the phone will prevent the user from trying to unlock it for 30 seconds.

After that, an impossible-t0-miss message box will pop up for each unsuccessful attempt that you make. A genuine user will likely ask the owner of the device for help once they see all these ominous warning messages pop up, but some might just as easily dismiss the boxes without reading a thing.

Unfortunately, a factory reset on the HTC One M8 includes a complete wipe of personal media from the phone’s internal storage. This means you’ll lose your photos and videos if they weren’t stored on the microSD card the phone thankfully supports. There are a couple of different things you can do to make sure this isn’t a problem for you in the foreseeable future:

  • Set your default storage to microSD for your photos, videos and downloads if you have one.
  • Use Google Drive, DropBox, or another backup service to backup all your important files.

Beyond that, just be careful and make sure you choose passwords and patterns that you’ll be sure to remember for a long time coming, and think about temporarily disabling lock-screen security if you expect your children or loved ones to be using your phone for an extended period of time.

There’s sure to be a bit of resistance to a feature like this. While it might be noble in the name of security, it could produce some unwanted results. For some people, making sure a thief can’t factory reset the phone is key, as this could kill the use of “find my phone” apps. It also gives the thief the very access they were looking for without much help at all. We’d feel a lot better of HTC gave us an option to disable this, but those are the breaks. It’s there, and we have to deal with it in our own ways.

Be sure to watch the video above if you’re curious to see how it happens in motion. PS: don’t forget that tomorrow is April Fool’s day, so make sure to keep your phone away from your prankster friends and avoid having this happen to you!

[via, thanks Dwight!]

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