How to Wipe Data From an Old Smartphone

Making sure your identity is safe.

By on August 15, 2012

It’s easy to forget how much personal information is stored on smartphones. While devices make it easy to pay bills and post photos to social networks on the go, when the time comes to upgrade to a new smartphone, steps need to be taken to protect personal information before donating, recycling, trading in, selling to a third party or giving the device to a friend. 

Start by backing up all your information. Doing so means you can automatically retrieve the information for your new device.

Now that your information is saved, it’s time to wipe all personal information from the device. Make sure to log out of all social networking sites, email accounts, wireless networks and apps on the device. Don’t forget to delete stored passwords from downloaded apps.

Tip: If the site requests a username and password, the personal information has been successfully removed from the smartphone. 

Next, delete stored information in the address book, call logs, voice and text messages, photos, videos and other media. 

Finally, restore the device back to the factory settings and remove any SIM and SD memory cards.

After completing all of these steps, the data will be deleted. When recycling an old phone, consider programs like HopeLine®, which provide recycled phones to domestic violence survivors.

Remember to call your cell phone provider to remove the device from your account, or disconnect the line if you don’t plan to use it. Clearing data from a device does not automatically disconnect the line.