Surviving A Kindle Fire Factory Reset – With Most Of Your Stuff Intact

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This is a reprint of a post I originally wrote for Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily, and it is reprinted here in its entirety with that site’s permission.

When your Fire starts acting hinky, as mine did a couple months back, sometimes there’s nothing for it but to do a “factory reset”. This post is about how to tell when it’s necessary, how to do it, and how to preserve as much of your Fire’s content as possible in the process.

What Is A Kindle Fire Factory Reset?

Doing a factory reset on your Kindle Fire basically puts its operating software right back to where it was after its most recent software update from Amazon, and wipes part of its memory clean. Doing a factory reset should not be your go-to solution for any problem you’re having with your Fire, because it has the potential to wipe all your app, movie, ebook and other data. When that happens, you lose all progress in games you were playing, the Fire no longer “remembers” where you left off in a movie you were watching, et cetera.

Thanks to Whispersync and Whispersync for Voice, bookmarks, notes and the spot you left off reading in a Kindle book or Audible audiobook are all stored in Amazon’s Cloud and should be restored when you re-download the Kindle book or Audible audiobook. Should is the active word there, because it’s possible that, due to technical problems with your Fire, the most recent data about these items hasn’t been sent to the Cloud.

While I can’t guarantee that you won’t lose anything during a factory reset, if you follow the directions in this post you should be able to preserve your content settings and data.

Why Do I Need To Reset To Factory Defaults?

I’ve spent WAY too many hours playing Heroes of Kalevala to lose all that progress in a factory reset!

Your Kindle Fire is not just an e-reader, it’s a tablet computer. And like any computer, over time, it can accumulate junk data. This can be leftovers from stuff you’ve deleted, it can be background error messages you might’ve seen while using various apps or the web browser, or an accumulation of wifi and other tracking data that was important when it was first generated, but isn’t really needed anymore and is just taking up space, slowing down your Fire.

When Do I Need To Reset To Factory Defaults?

If you’re seeing any of the following error messages or symptoms on your Fire, a factory reset is probably needed.

1. You’re seeing pop-up error messages when you try to access any of the Fire’s functions (e.g., Video, Apps, Store, etc.)

2. Your Fire is very slow to load content (Kindle books, videos, apps, etc.)

3. Your content “crashes” (stops working, shuts down and kicks you back out to the menu) frequently

Amazon has created a handy troubleshooting page for each different Kindle Fire model; you may want to take a look at the one for your model and try some of the suggested steps before doing a factory reset. The factory reset is really a last resort. Note that no links are provided for HDX models, because those come with the free, built-in Mayday live tech support feature. If you’re experiencing difficulty with an HDX, tap the Mayday link to access immediate, free, live tech support.

First-Generation Kindle Fire Troubleshooting

Kindle Fire HD 7″ Troubleshooting

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ Troubleshooting 

 

How To Do A Factory Reset Without Losing All Your Content And Data

Follow these simple steps to first preserve your content and data, then do the factory reset, re-register your Kindle Fire, and restore the preserved content and data.

UPDATED TO ADD: The steps below, and screenshot, are from going through this process with a Kindle Fire HD model. The process is essentially the same for a first-generation Fire, but folder names and locations on a first-gen Fire may differ slightly. In step 1 below, you may have to click around a bit on a first-gen Fire to find the content folders, but the bottom line is that you’re finding the content folders and backing them up before the reset.

1. Connect your Fire to your computer via USB. In File Explorer, Finder, or whatever your computer uses for browsing files and devices on your computer, locate and open the Kindle Fire folder. In Windows 7, you can go to Computer > Kindle Fire. You should see a folder listing that looks something like this:

Kindle Internal Storage

2. Backup your content and data. Create a folder somewhere on your computer’s hard drive called KFBackup or something similar to hold your backups. Now copy (do NOT cut and paste, COPY) the following folders (those that exist – you may not have all the same folders, depending on what content is on your Fire) to your backup folder: Alarms, Android, Audible, Books, Documents, Download, Movies, Music, Pictures.

Do not copy the other folders, as they are system folders that probably contain the junk data that’s causing your problems. They need to be cleaned out by the reset.

Note that if there’s a type of content you know you don’t have on the Fire, you can skip that folder. For example, I know that I’ve never set alarms on my Fire so I don’t need to backup that folder because there’s no personal or custom data in it. Similarly, if you’ve never watched a movie on your Fire, you can skip the Movies folder.

3. Detach your Fire from your computer. First, eject/detach your Fire from your computer. Depending on your computer type, you may have to right-click on the Fire’s icon in your Finder/File Manager and select ‘eject’ to safely remove it.

When you’ve cleared LOTS of levels in a game app like Patchworkz, you don’t want to have to start all over from nothing.

4. Be sure your Fire has at least a 50% charge before doing the reset.

You don’t want the battery to die on you partway through.

5. Perform the factory reset. On the Fire, go to Settings > More > Device and tap the Reset to Factory Defaults link. Follow all prompts to perform the reset. Wait for the process to finish, and re-start your Fire.

6. Re-register your Fire. Start it up, and follow the prompts to re-register your Fire to your Amazon account.

7. Re-connect the Fire to your computer to restore your backed-up files and data. With the Fire connected to your computer, open one Finder/File Explorer window with the Fire’s content in it, and another with your KFBackup (or whatever you named it) folder open in it. Size the two windows so you can have them open side-by side at the same time. For each folder you backed up, follow these steps to restore the backup to your Fire:

a. Open the desired content folder in the Fire window (e.g., Alarms, Books, Movies, etc.).

b. Open the corresponding folder in the backup folder window (e.g., if you opened ‘Alarms’ in the Fire window, open ‘Alarms’ in the backup window).

c. Copy all the contents from the backup window to the Fire window. — ***IMPORTANT NOTE ***— DO NOT copy the Android > Data > Amazon folder from your backup. When copying everything from your backup after the reset, skip the Android > Data > Amazon folder. That folder contains the unique identifier as assigned by Amazon when the Fire was originally registered, and when you re-registered after your reset (or, if you’re using these directions to transfer your content from an old Fire to a new one, when you registered the new device) it may have been assigned a new unique identifier. This means you cannot simply copy the entire Android folder over from your backup, you must copy the subfolders / files individually from within the Android directory of your backup.

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IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THOSE USING THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO TRANSFER CONTENT FROM AN OLD FIRE TO A NEW ONE: If there have been significant operating system changes between the old Fire and the new one, some of the backed up content may not function properly on the new device. Therefore, if you’re transferring from an old Fire to a new one and the new one is a different model than the old one, it’s safest NOT to copy the following system folders or files to the new device:

Android > Data > Amazon

Android > Data > com.amazon.kindle

Android > Data > com.amazon.kindle.UnifiedSearch

Android > Data > com.amazon.photos

Android > Data > com. amazon.venezia

Also note, in the Android > Data > com.amazon.venezia > files folder, there’s a subfolder called “apks” and several individual files. These “apk” files are save and data files from apps. Copy the backup files from within the “apks” folder to the device, but don’t copy anything else from the  Android > Data > com.amazon.venezia folder.

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When you’re warned or prompted about overwriting files, click ‘Yes’, ‘OK’, or whatever is the correct response on your computer to approve overwriting content in the Fire window, unless the file you’re being warned about is a ‘token’ file.

‘Token’ files, which are system and Amazon registration files, will have the word “token” mentioned somewhere in the pop-up warning text or the file name itself, so be on the lookout for these as you go through this process and be sure to select “No” in the “Overwrite Y/N?” pop-up dialog. When I went through the process there were only two. If you make a mistake and happen to overwrite them, don’t worry. The worst that will happen is that you’ll be prompted to re-register your new Fire the next time you want to use it, and re-registering to the same Amazon user account as before does not affect content already stored on the Fire in any way.

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8. When you’re done copying the backup files and data, again detach your Fire from your computer just as you did in Step 3 above.

9. Turn on the Fire and check to verify your files and content are there. Do this by opening a book you were reading / movie you were watching / MP3 you were listening to, to see if it opens where you left off. Check your progress in game apps you’ve been playing.

10. Delete the KFBackup (or whatever you called it) folder from your computer. If you ever have to do another factory reset, you’ll want to start with a new backup folder.

If the device doesn’t appear to be functioning properly after following this process, either something went wrong during your copy from backup step, or  if you’re using this process to transfer content to a new Fire, the device you’re copying files to is too different from the old one to use the backed up files. In that case, unfortunately, you can only repeat the factory reset and start over from scratch: re-download the content you want from the Cloud, and make peace with the fact that you’ve lost some app / game progress.

In the case of games, the developer’s website may have special directions for how to transfer save files from an old device to a new one. This is true of the My Singing Monsters app, for example. If you want to try every possible way to restore your app/game progress, try Googling the name of the app to locate the app website or developer’s website. If you find a site, go the Help or Technical Support area and search on “transfer [app/game name]” to find any instructions the developer may have.

 

Remember: there’s no guarantee that everything will survive a factory reset so don’t be surprised if a few things were lost, but this method gives you the best chance to preserve the maximum amount of files and content.

 

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32 Comments

  1. Comment by thriftynative:

    Just discovered your site and I must say, I love it. Going by your “About”, the subjects you enjoy writing, I enjoy reading! I’ll be checking out your other articles and I can’t wait to find tech that saves me money as well!

    • Comment by Mom:

      Thanks! Check out the Digital Media Bargains and Freebies tab, you’ll find a lot of money-saving links there, and also click on Savvy Consumer in the tag cloud listing in the right-hand sidebar. Under that archive, you’ll find tips and tricks for making your devices last longer, avoiding ripoffs, and saving money.

  2. Comment by Sandy Pistolesi:

    I’m forced to download the Fire 8.9 HD update … no “internal storage” file by that name.

    • Comment by Mom:

      You don’t need to download the update files that come from Amazon. They will automatically be sent to your Kindle or Fire when they are released, and there’s no need for you to back them up or keep a personal copy. Performing a reset will also automatically update your Kindle or Fire to the latest software version, if necessary.

      • Comment by Sandy Pistolesi:

        No WIFI at home. USB is the only access. But disregard … I figured out the internal storage file naming convention. Thnx.

  3. Comment by safire:

    I CAN’T GET IT BACK! TELL ME THE EASIEST WAY TO GET MY MEMORY BACK! PLEASE!

    • Comment by Mom:

      Your post isn’t specific enough for me to offer any assistance. I don’t know what you mean by “get my memory back”. I suggest you try the appropriate troubleshooting page for your type of Kindle Fire, and if that doesn’t work, contact Amazon Kindle support directly. Links for these options are provided in the article.

  4. Comment by Nahry Omer:

    I have kindle fire HD 7 with stocked software but it have no TWRP and I don’t know what I have to do… Please help…

    • Comment by Mom:

      The Kindle Fire runs on a proprietary version of Android that’s unique to Amazon. Since TWRP requires some rooting and/or sideloading, it’s not anything I can advise you on here. The TeamWin site has a page that may help, but even there TeamWin states they’re not making any attempts to make TWRP Kindle Fire -compatible.

  5. Comment by Carol:

    Every now and then my apps close by themselves.
    Then my kindle fire (7) shuts down and a message appears.
    Something like “reset to factory settings or just turn on”
    when i started using(7 months ago) i had some problems to register because i’m from Brazil & to make the music covers visible. So i think it is because of that.
    I also use, maybe, too much memory space?? (2gb left or something)
    I dont wanna reset but i’m not sure if i’ll havea choice.
    Btw, what about the apps we downloaded for free? Not a problem right?

    • Comment by Carol:

      Oh, and thanks for your post!!! :)

    • Comment by Mom:

      I’d suggest you start with a call to Amazon Kindle support. They will probably just tell you to do a factory reset, but since you’re in another country I’m thinking there may be some other factor they’d know about (and I wouldn’t). If you DO decide to do a factory reset, follow the method outlined in this post: backup, reset, re-register, then restore. An app is an app is an app, as far as your Fire is concerned, so don’t treat free apps any differently than those you’ve paid for. If you want to have the best chance of saving your in-app progress, backing up before you reset is the most likely way to make it happen. Good luck!

  6. Comment by Terry:

    giving my KindleFire to my grown son. I downloaded several game apps for him, some free, some I paid for. Then I realized that since it’s registered in my name, all my amazon account stuff is there permanently and I need to deregister and reregister to him. If I copy the game apps that I purchased to my pc, deregister and register in his name, then copy back to my Kindle Fire from the pc, will it put back on the kindle fire that game apps I purchased for him?

    • Comment by Mom:

      Content you purchase from Amazon is tied to your Amazon account, NOT to any specific device. Therefore no, you cannot share content purchased under your Amazon account with your son, who presumably has his own, separate Amazon account. During the registration step, his Amazon account will become tied to the Fire and that will exclude him from using any content downloaded or purchased under your account. The backup and restore steps I describe here are for user-specific data like game progress, Kindle book bookmarks and so forth, not the apps / Kindle books / etc. themselves, all of which are protected by DRM that ensures the content will only work for the customer who originally bought or downloaded it. See this DMM post for further explanation: Can I Share Content From My Thingie?

  7. Comment by Cathe:

    Will this work for a kindle to kindle transfer when changing kindles due to warranty replacement or does this only work for placing the data back onto the original kindle?

    • Comment by Mom:

      Considering that a factory reset puts a Fire right back to its original, ‘blank slate’ state, I can’t think of any reason why this method wouldn’t work for getting content from an old Fire to a new one. I’d suggest you try it; worst case scenario is that it doesn’t work, in which case you can always do a factory reset on the new Fire and it’ll go right back to how it was before you tried the experiment.

      • Comment by cathe:

        Thank You I am going to try this for my daughters kindle replacement and you may have saved me from a major 13 yr old girl meltdown.

        • Comment by Dianna Chaplin:

          Did it work Cathe? I am having the same issue – getting a replacement and not wanting to loose all of our progress in apps

          • Comment by Cathe:

            Would love to say that it worked but Hubby dropped the ball i managed to save them al to my computer but he never did the reset and i had to mail the other back so hoping it does when he finally resets this weekend.

  8. Comment by fakename charles:

    I have a kindle that works reasonably well but when I got it my mom made parental controls so I could do everything but M-rated content, but now my wifi turned off for some reason ( I didn’t turn it off) and when I went to connect to our wifi, it wanted a parental controls password. My mom typed it in, but it will not work. My kindle is useless without wifi, I cannot use internet or even my game apps as they require wifi. The only thing I can do is play one game app that does not use wifi. Do I need to do a factory reset? Someone please respond.

    • Comment by Mom:

      First, have your mom try her Amazon password as the parental controls password. A lot of people use the same password for both. They shouldn’t, but they do.

      Second, are you sure it’s asking for a parental controls password, and not your network’s WiFi password? Just a thought.

      If all else fails then yes, you will have to reset your Fire. You didn’t name a specific model, but this Help page on Amazon has links for each different model. Click on the one that matches your model, then enter “lost parental controls password” in the search box to find the specific instructions.

      • Comment by fakename charles:

        I have a Kindle Fire HD, and yes I checked and it was the parental controls password it as asking for. My mum entered it in front of me, and it was not the Amazon password or the networks’s wifi password.

        Later, I tried your instructions, and I had a friend who is really good with technology come over and I am pretty sure I did it right. When I copied the files and then disconnected my Kindle, I opened to the main screen and none of my stuff was there. PLEASE HELP ME!!!

        p.s thanks for all the help and the time that goes into your stuff It is really helpful and you are good at what you do. Keep it up!

        • Comment by Mom:

          After you’ve backed up your content and then reset your Kindle or Fire, you have to register that Kindle or Fire back to the same Amazon account it used to be registered to (in your specific case, since you want it tied to your mom’s account — if your mother had given this Kindle/Fire to someone outside your household, the recipient would want to register the device to his or her own Amazon account). Then, if you backed anything up to the computer, connect the Kindle/Fire to your computer and copy the backed-up content back to the Kindle/Fire.

  9. Comment by Steve Haegelin:

    My daughter had 2Gb of data on her kindle fire hd 8.9″ that needed to get transferred. It downloaded from the kindle just fine but the upload was soooo slow! I tried doing it via usb cable but that was going to take 20+ hours! I don’t know why the usb was so slow. I ended up using es file explorer, a kindle fire app, to connect to my NAS device. It only took about half an hour over wifi. I would not have minded just letting the kindle run for 20 hours but it kept hanging up on some random question (i.e. overwrite file? …).

    • Comment by Mom:

      I think the 20+ hours was not accurate. Very often I notice that on my Windows 7 machine, when I start a download it will tell me the download’s going to take hours when I know for a fact it will only be minutes, and it always ends up being only minutes. However, if you were attempting to do the file transfer over USB 1 (either using a USB 1 cable or via a USB 1 port), then it’s not surprising because USB 1 is a MUCH older and slower technology.

      Still, for anyone reading this, I’d like to point out that the method you used is something that should only be attempted by someone with intermediate or higher tech skills, it’s not a technique for beginners. To use ES File Explorer or any other file manager app properly, you need to have a pretty firm understanding of your network and file system (both on the mobile device and on the machine or network from which you want to move files).

  10. Comment by Jewels:

    Thank you for a thorough article. I’m requiring info on something slightly different, and wanted to know if perhaps this backup idea may work for me: I’m assigning a second Kindle Fire to my account, and would like to know if the games can get pulled from the cloud, from one Kindle to the other (sync) without losing game progress. Or could I use this backup idea to help it do so? Thank you in advance!

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