Phone technology is growing exponentially, and many of us are always on the lookout for the next big upgrade. Getting a new phone means getting rid of the old one, which in turn means that you need to keep your data and personal information safe by getting it off your phone before you sell or trade it. Fully erasing your phone takes only a few steps, and it’s definitely worth it for the peace of mind.
Your SIM card holds your carrier information, as well as your contacts and call logs. While your carrier information isn’t too private, your contacts and call logs certainly are. Most smartphones have a small slot on the side with a tiny hole. Use a micro screwdriver or a pin to press into the hole, which releases the slot so you can remove your SIM card.
If you’re using the same carrier with your new phone, you’ll need to put your SIM card into your new phone, so that’s one more reason to remove it.
You may want to keep your SD card and move it to your new phone so you don’t lose your media and other data, or hold onto it for safekeeping. If you’re selling it with the phone, then you need to format it and erase it so the buyer doesn’t have access to your personal data.
Most smartphones have a format and erase option under Settings, often in the External Storage tab. Erase it first to remove all your data, and then format it. Formatting overwrites all prior information on the SD card and readies it for new use, so there’s no way that a buyer can undo your erasure.
The next step is to erase your phone’s internal storage. The process is a little different, depending on whether you’re doing this on an Android phone or an iPhone. First, make sure your phone is fully charged and plugged in before you start the process. It can take a few hours and a lot of battery life, and if your phone powers down in the middle of the process, it can corrupt the internal storage and affect the phone’s functionality.
Next, follow these Android- or iPhone-specific steps:
Check your Android phone’s operating system by going to Settings, then System, and then About Phone. If your phone has Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, then you can safely skip the encryption stage, because these phones automatically encrypt their data by default.
If you’re running an older system, then you’ll want to encrypt your phone to make sure your data is impossible to recover. For most phones, go to Settings, the Security, and then Encrypt Phone.
For Samsung Galaxy phones, the process is slightly different — you’ll need to navigate to Settings, then Lock Screen & Security, and then Protect Encrypted Data.
Now you can erase your phone by running a factory reset. To do this, go to Settings, then Backup & Reset, and then Reset Phone. This may take a few hours, so make sure your phone is charged and plugged in first.
At the end of the process, your phone restarts itself. When it starts back up again, all of your phone’s data is erased. As long as you encrypted your phone first, the data is impossible to recover at this stage, so your privacy is secure.
There’s no need to encrypt your phone first if you have an iPhone 3GS or later, because Apple devices automatically encrypt all data stored on your device.
The erasure process is as simple as possible for iPhone users. Simply go to Settings, then General, then Reset. Choose Erase All Content & Settings, and you’re good to go.
Because iPhones use hardware encryption, erasing your data involve wiping the hardware-specific encryption key, which takes only a few minutes. It’s much quicker than Android phones, and you’ll be ready to securely sell your phone before you know it.
That’s it. When your entire life is on your smartphone, it’s vital to make sure all of your personal data is wiped before selling or trading your phone to a new owner. If you’ve followed the steps in this post, your phone is securely wiped, encrypted, and ready to sell safely.
Of course, if you’re a retailer and need to wipe many phones on a large scale to prepare them for sale, you might need some help. Consider using a service like PhoneCheck Advanced Data Erasure. This service permanently and securely removes all data from any smartphone or tablet that uses iOS or Android, and it’s perfect for pre-owned phone retailers to ensure that their customers’ sensitive data stays safe when they trade in phones. It’s also easy to use, saving you valuable time.