It seems like every week there’s a major new vulnerability found in Android. What makes this even worse for users is that it will likely take them forever to get desperately needed patches thanks to Android’s fragmented and decentralized software upgrade system. All the same, there is something that you can do right now to improve the security of your Android phone’s data: You can enable encryption on your device.

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Ars Technica has written up a very useful guide for encrypting multiple different kinds of devices and we found its section on Android encryption particularly important since encryption isn’t enabled on devices by default. To enabled encryption on Android, take the following steps:

  • Open up Settings.
  • Click on Security.
  • Find the option for phone storage encryption and enable it.
  • You’ll want to make sure your phone is plugged in during the encryption process, which takes around an hour to complete. Leave your phone alone while encryption is being enabled.
  • Once the process is finished, open up Settings again and check to see if there’s an “Encrypted” badge under the phone storage encryption option.

There are some potential downsides to encrypting your Android device, however. Users with older phones are likely to see their devices’ performance significantly slowed and Ars Technica says encrypting Android phones works “better on newer phones with 64-bit ARMv8 processors and higher-end, faster storage.” You should also know that you won’t be able to decrypt your device in the future without wiping out all the data on your phone.

For tips on encryption for Windows, OS X and other computing platforms, we recommend checking out Ars’ full encryption guide by clicking here.

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