If you are trading in or selling your old mobile device, it has to be wiped the right way to prevent any risk of someone exploiting your personal data. Luckily, there is a wealth of options available, and we are going to show you examples of best practice.
The following list of tips is for owners of Android smartphones, so without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Backup Your Data
The good news is that many Android smartphones offer very a tight Google integration. This is why you’re asked to associate your phone’s user account with your Google account. This should keep your data, like contacts, calendar, and email messages up in the cloud. Once you’re ready to set up a new phone, you can simply enter your Google credentials and all your personal data will be automatically downloaded.
Many manufacturers offer their own backup solutions, which come with similar cloud backup utilities. This is why you should check which backup solution you’re using. Some storage-intensive content such as videos and music can be saved using Google Drive, Dropbox, or by using other third-party services.
Encrypt Your Phone
By encrypting your phone, you can prevent anyone from recovering its data. This is a very special trick that can help you keep your private data safe and secured.
The good news is that most devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow are required by Google to have a mandatory encryption. However, devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop or lower don’t have this option enabled by default. Head over to Settings > Security > Encryption to scramble its data before doing a factory reset.
Once you’re sure that all your important data are safe and secure, you should wipe your phone clean. This is where many Android users encounter an issue, usually connected to Factory Reset Protection.
In many instances, you will need to remove your phone from your Google account, which is something you should do even if you don’t want to wipe your phone’s contents.
This is how it’s done:
– Search for “Google Account” on the Web, or go to myaccount.google.com;
– Navigate to “Sign-In & Security”, and then to “Device Activity & Notifications”;
– You will see a list of recently used devices, where you can click on “Review Devices”;
– From there, remove your phone.
Now you are ready to erase your phone’s contents, which can be found under Settings. This option is tied to “Backup and Reset”.
Overwrite Your Data
Now that you’ve encrypted your phone and reset it to factory settings, there is one additional step to make sure your private data is unrecoverable.
It is interesting to note that when data are deleted, they’re not actually deleted. Your computer or phone marks those files as ready to be deleted, but they will be overwritten once a new file comes over it. There is one trick to make sure your personal data are scrambled.
Once you reset your phone, go ahead and set up your device once again, but without signing into your Google account. Once your device is set up as new, start recording a video for as long as you can, at the highest possible resolution. Since video files are huge in size, this will overwrite all those personal files that you “deleted” in the previous step.
You can find numerous advices around the web on how to properly remove any personal data from your Android device. However, we offer the full-proof guide that is also easy to recreate. So, backup your data, encrypt your phone, do a factory reset, and fill that space with new files. If you’re looking for something simpler, a single encrypt-and-reset should be enough.