Thinking about selling your smartphone to buy a newer, fancier model?
You going to want to make sure you’ve wiped your phone clean before you send it out into the world. After all, you don’t want your photos, emails, or sensitive financial info falling into the wrong hands!
One of the most basic things you can do to protect your privacy is remove your SIM card and/or your micro SD card, if your phone has one.
Just pop open the back of the phone and you’ll find them. (Hint: They’re the rectangular shapes that are much smaller than your phone’s battery!)
Removing those cards deals with external data storage. Beyond that, there are a few different data operations you can do to wipe your phone’s internal data clean.
It all depends whether you have an Android or an iPhone. See below.
Here’s how to wipe an Android clean
DigitalTrends.com recommends a 2-step process to wipe your Android device clean.
Begin by encrypting your data. Go to Settings > Security > Encrypt phone to do this.
“Anyone attempting to recover data from your phone after you will need a special key to decrypt it, and they won’t have the key,” DigitalTrends.com writes.
The second step involves doing a factory reset. To do that, just go to Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset and then tap Reset phone.
A warning about Android wiping
A respected security company called Avast recently cast aspersions on the effectiveness of Android factory resets.
Avast bought 20 Androids on the free market that had been wiped clean. Using common data forensic software, they were able to retrieve a ton of photos and actually identify 4 of the phone’s original owners.
I’ve long said it’s a lot easier to get into trouble than it is to get out of it. So use the “Grandma rule” when taking pictures on your cellphone: If it’s not something you’d feel comfortable showing Grandma, maybe you should think twice before snapping that pic!
Here’s how to wipe an iPhone clean
For Apple users, you just have a simple 1-step process to do. Just go to Settings > General > Erase All Content and Settings > click “Erase” in the dialogue box. That’s it!
But is it securely wiped with an iPhone? The answer is yes. “The data on an iOS device is automatically encrypted, and wiping the device destroys the encryption key, which makes it more or less impossible to get anything back when it’s been fully erased and reset,” according to Macworld.