Forgotten Lock Code
September 21, 2018 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Trying to help a friend who somehow locked their phone and now can't unlock it. 2 attempts left before it erases.

We've managed to get into the google account associated with the phone, after a LOT of trouble because she didn't even remember setting up an account. However we can't figure out how to reset the lock screen code. When we try to lock it, it says "You already had a screen lock, the password you set won't be used." Is she just SOL?

We tried logging into her samsung account but the phone doesn't show up there.
posted by one4themoment to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does this from Samsung help?
posted by slipthought at 8:12 AM on September 21, 2018

Unfortunately not. We went ahead and kept trying passwords until it factory reset, and then it let us in with her Gmail info.

She probably lost some things but she had her old phone still so at most 6 months. Still waiting on cloud restore.

Would still like answers for the future though.
posted by one4themoment at 10:49 AM on September 21, 2018

The only advice I'd have is "next time write down the lock code"... iOS requires the code after every cold boot or if it has been X hours since last unlocked. Does Android not do the same? I find it hard to believe that the code would be forgotten if it is routinely used.

Alternatively, pick a code that is easier to remember (use the text on the buttons to spell a word, for example, which may be easier than remembering a series of numbers).

I think on a modern device that "I can't get into it because I don't have the code" is a feature, not a bug.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:08 PM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I genuinely believe either she didn't mean to set one or that one of the grandkids managed to do it playing with the phone. Keep in mind she didn't know any passwords not even her main email password. It took a lot of sim swapping with a spare phone to get into all of the accounts.

So yes it's a feature for younger people who know what they're doing but not a feature for seniors.
posted by one4themoment at 2:28 PM on September 21, 2018

She needs to write down all of her accounts, usernames, and passwords in a place where she won’t lose them. She also needs to set a lock code herself, and write it down with the rest of her passwords. That way, the grandkids won’t be able to set another lock code she doesn’t know about.
posted by snowmentality at 4:56 PM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

What snowmentality said, but write them all down in a password manager and let it remember them for you. Just don't lose the password for the manager.
posted by Awfki at 7:20 AM on September 22, 2018

What awfki said but absolutely not what snowmentality said. If you write all your login information down in a single place, then you creating a major security hole. Also, if you lose your physical login record then you're completely out of luck.
posted by rdr at 10:21 AM on September 22, 2018

It depends on the phone, but in some cases the phone manufacturers go to incredible effort to make it impossible to bypass the unlock code.

For example, consider the court cases involving Apple and the FBI. The FBI had the phone of a terrorist. They didn't know the unlock code, and were faced with basically the same situation as you -- they only had a few tries before it would factory reset.

They tried to compel Apple to create for them a compromised version of iOS that would allow them unlimited tries to guess the password, but Apple refused. Ultimately, the FBI ended up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy information about a security flaw from a group of third party hackers, and Apple has since added something called the Secure Enclave that makes it even more difficult to bypass the unlock code.

In the future, the only solution is just to make sure the Samsung account, Apple ID, or whatever equivalent is set up on the phone, and backups are turned on if possible.

Writing down important passwords is a reasonable idea I think, as long as they are kept somewhere safe (like a safe!). Like maybe keep them with birth certificates, social security card, etc.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:43 PM on September 22, 2018

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