You’ve upgraded to the latest technology, but you still want someone to benefit from your old phone, computer, or smart tablet. Maybe you’re handing down that still useful iPad to the kids or your smartphone to great-aunt Joyce. Perhaps you’re donating your old computer to a program supplying technology to the less fortunate. Before you do, there are some crucial steps to follow in securely liberating your device for the next user.
- Backup your data (including third-party apps) to a computer or the cloud connected to your device. This way, if something goes wrong with the transfer of data from old device to new, you already have your information in storage for your next transfer attempt. While transfers are usually seamless, a WIFI disconnect during the process or software malfunction could make for a lot more work on your part if you aren’t working from a backup.
- Keep your passwords on a secure keychain via a secure browser or other trusted software. Not all apps will automatically preserve your login information, especially if you switch technologies, such as moving from a Samsung to an Apple smartphone.
- If your phone number is changing along with your device, add additional trusted phone numbers to your accounts to ensure you don’t lose access.
- Giving away an Apple Watch or AirPods? Make sure you unpair them from your iPhone before you give them away. Cancel or transfer your AppleCare plan if one still applies to the device you’re giving away.
- Sign out of all cloud services, and, in the case of an Apple device, the iTunes and App Store. If you’re switching to a non-Apple smartphone, deregister iMessage and turn off FaceTime.
- Take screenshots of apps and your home screen layout. It’s easy to forget about apps that don’t transfer over easily.
- Doing an in-person trade-in? Don’t erase your information yet. Your retailer will transfer your data over to your new device. Make sure your device gets securely erased afterwards.
- Giving away your device? You need to wipe it of all of your information before giving it away. With an Apple device, you can do so from your Settings. See this article for further steps. With an android, do a factory data reset. Remove your old device from your list of trusted devices.
- Sometimes a factory reset won’t erase all data on your smartphone. To be sure of securing your data, remove all applications from your device before doing a factory reset, including deleting VPN apps. Some apps and browsers might store your login details, so it’s important to remove those apps from your phone. Unsync apps from any associated accounts.
- Remove your SIM card and any external storage. If your device has an eSIM, it can’t be removed, but it can be erased.
- Using Google? Go to google.com and log out of and remove accounts from the device you’re giving away.
- Remove any payment cards associated with your device.
- On Androids, deactivate factory reset protection (FRP), or the new owner won’t be able to use it.
- Encrypt the data on an Android before wiping it, to ensure that a savvy user can’t restore your data.
- Has your device been stolen instead? In this case, DO NOT removeyour old device connected to your cloud account. Doing so allows thieves to use your device, because it’s no longer protected. If your iPhone gets stolen and you keep it in your list of trusted devices, it’s protected by Apple, and thieves can’t access it. A common scam is for thieves to steal your phone, pull out the SIM card and text you on your replacement phone to tell you that they are Apple, they’ve located your phone, and that you need to remove it from your trusted devices. Don’t fall for that tactic!
Gift your technology this holiday season secure in the knowledge that you took the right steps to reuse your device without circulating your valuable and sensitive information. Happy Holidays to you!