Buy a new phone. Just kidding. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Don’t take risks if the potential gain is not significant. I learnt it the hard way when i tried out some App Launchers (Launcher Pro and QuickDesk Beta), both of which rendered my Samsung Galaxy S unbootable (phone starts up but refuses to show the home screen).
The first time this happened, it took half a day of reboot attempts before the phone somehow boot into safe mode. The second time, just didn’t have the patience and went ahead to reset phone to factory settings. With that, i learnt another important lesson, again the hard way – the importance of doing backup! Before that, I always added contacts to the phone. With the reset to factory settings, all was gone. Thereafter, i took a hard look at the options available when adding contacts and realized that adding to your google account was one of them. Your contacts list is synced with your google account and can be restored at will.
Now, other than your contacts list, you would typically also want to backup your Apps. There are two ways about this – backing up to SD card and syncing with an online account (specifically AppBrain). I would recommend doing both. Restoring from SD card would obviously be faster, and you could also retain paid apps. Syncing with AppBrain will allow you to restore your Apps to a more recent state your phone was in as you will probably sync more often than you would backup to SD card.
Other than that, rest assured, the files that were residing in the phone ROM or your SD card will not be wiped out. As for the rest of the phone configuration, i don’t mind wiping them actually. As an added bonus, i discovered that doing a factory reset doesn’t wipe the One-Click Lag Fix applied (for Samsung Galaxy S phones), nor does it revoke the rooting of the phone.
So, resetting your phone to factory settings isn’t all that painful, but then again, don’t be trigger happy in trying advanced Apps if you don’t know what you’re doing!