Four Things To Do Before Giving Away Your Mobile Device

So it’s time for you to sell your computer, phone, or other device. One of the most common sense things to do is to make sure that everything is deleted. From personal or embarrassing files to more sensitive information such as bank documents and login data, it’s not wise to sell or give away your device as is.

However, even if you delete all your data, someone could run software to recover everything, and then it’s game over.

With that said, how do you make sure everything is gone before you sell your device? It’s actually not that hard of all, and we’ll let you go through the process.

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This article is part of my Internet Security Guide - check it out.

Backing Everything Up

You don’t want to have to go download everything on your new computer, so backing up your device so that you can put everything back on with ease is the best way to go. It’s not just files, either. You’ll want to backup your bookmarks, app settings, and more. There are apps out there for Mac and Windows that will make an entire disk image, which allows for easy reinstallation.

If you have an iOS device, it’s so easy. Just sync your computer to it and back everything up automatically. Then, all you need to do is plug your new device in, and you can install your backup to that. In order to check to see if you have backed up everything, connect your device and open up iTunes.

The Summary Tab on the sidebar should have a Backup section, and should record the last time you did a backup.

With Android, it all depends. Ice Cream Sandwich version four and above will back everything up, such as purchases and settings, to your Google Play account. Look at your Google Play account and see if it’s working by going to the Android Devices. Older devices require you to use programs such as Titanium Backup, which requires rooted devices.

How to Format With Security!

Like we said, it’s common sense to delete everything on your mobile device, but data can be recovered. Your data is still swimming around, and it takes a program to pull it back out. You may think “Oh, it’s probably some expensive technology that only the police can use. I shouldn’t worry.” However, software such as this can be purchased for under 100 bucks, so you need to worry.

So how can someone extract your data if it’s deleted? That’s because deleting doesn’t remove it entirely. Instead, deleting it allows the space it takes up as available for use, and only deletes the index. While something else can replace that space, if you’re deleting everything, you still have it all. All the 1s and 0s are still around there.

In order for you to delete it with peace of mind, you need to have secure deletion ready. It’s available in all different kinds of complexity. However, the basic task is the same. It causes it to overwrite the area where the files was stored, passing over all the data and writing its own blank slate. This is known as a single pass.

A single pass will usually work, but more complex recovery programs will be able to recover it with ease. If you really want to make sure the data is deleted, you need to have multiple passes, which will continue writing code over it multiple times, meaning that it’s harder to do. According to the US Department of Defense, you need to do it seven times if you want to make sure it’s unrecoverable.

Thankfully, you can do this without having to purchase expensive and complicated programs. If you’re running OS X, just go to Disk Utility and then click on Erase Tab, and then Security Options. If you own a Windows computer, input the command DISKPART, and it will securely format everything.

However, you cannot make a secure erase of the system drive, since that would cause everything to disappear. In cases like these, you need to grab yourself a boot disk that is made for performing secure erases. One example is DBAN, which is for PCs. If you have a Mac, put in your OS X install CD and then boot. Go to Disk Utility from the Tools menu.

When you own an Android, you should securely delete the SD card, especially if you have one that uses the method on Windows. There is a factory reset method, but it’s not the most secure. So you should go to Settings, then go to Security, and the go to Encrypt.

Afterwards, perform a factory reset. Again, this is for Ice Cream Sandwich and above, so you need to use programs to help you out if your Android is old.

In iOS, your data is already encrypted. So all you need to do if you want to erase everything is to go to Settings, then General, then Reset, and then click on Erase All Content and Settings. This will erase everything on your phone.

Reinstalling an Operating System

Installing the OS for the person you’re selling it to is a nice thing to do, unless they want it without an OS. Most computers have their own restore CDs that will put the OS back on. They should also come with a license key, and you need to put it on the machines.

So what if you can’t find the restore CD? Linux can help you out with that. There are many guides out there that you can use in order to help you out. You can also inform your seller that there is no operating system on there, but some of them will not know what you meant, and it will come back to haunt you.

However, you should not install pirated software or something that’s unlicensed. It may cause you to get in trouble if Microsoft goes out, and your seller will hate you for it.

How to Deauthorize Your DRM

DRM allows you to purchase something, and then download it to five or so devices, which can add up. This included in programs such as iTunes. If you want to, there’s a way to deauthorize every device you have so that you can have free slots open, but you can only do it once a year. In iTunes, go to the iTunes Store and sign into your account. Select Manage Devices, and you can go from there.

Of course, there are a lot of DRM software, so do some fact checking beforehand.

And now that you do that, your device is good to go. Even if you sell it to your best friend, you should always delete everything with security. Who knows what can happen if you don’t? Thankfully, it’s easy!

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