We’re in the thick of the holiday season, and many of us will have received that much-awaited box from Santa containing a brand new iOS or Android device.

While it’s tempting to just give away your old phone or tablet after taking out the SIM and/or memory card, think again. That device most likely has all your most valuable data stored inside, not to mention those stashed-away photos and videos that just cannot be seen by anyone, God forbid a family member!

So, what do you do? You back up your data – ALL of it – and then proceed to wipe it clean of all traces of your use – contacts, media, games, customizations – everything. Only then should your phone or tablet be given away so it makes someone else just as happy as you were when you first got it. Well, almost, since it’s a hand-me-down anyway.

How to Wipe your iOS 10 Device – iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

First, sign out of iCloud by going to Settings > iCloud > Sign Out. If you don’t, the Activation Lock will remain. In case you wiped the device and now want to turn off Activation Lock, go here.

Second, you’ll need your Restrictions passcode. If you don’t have that or, for some reason, cannot access the Restrictions settings, you can always do a factory reset through iTunes when tethered to a PC. You may also need your passcode, Apple ID and Apple ID password.

Third, On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, go to Settings > General > Reset. Then tap Erase All Content and Settings. This works on Apple Watch as well.

And you’re done! You can now happily gift your old device to anyone in the knowledge that no evidence of you using the phone ever exists. Well, to do that you have to literally wipe the device. For fingerprints, you see. But other than that, you’re all set.




Oh, and don’t forget to remove your SIM card while you’re at it. 🙂

How to Wipe your Android Device – Android Smartphones and Tablets

If you have an Android device running Android 5.0 or higher, the first thing you want to do is remove FRP, or Factory Reset Protection. It’s an additional layer of security that Google introduced with Android 5.0 to prevent thieves from stealing your phone, simply wiping it with a factory reset and then selling it off.

On Samsung devices, you need to go to Settings > Lock screen and security > Screen lock type and choose None. It may differ on other devices, but just look for something that removes your lock screen security feature.




Next, you will need to delete your Google and Samsung accounts. To do this, go to Settings > Accounts and tap on Google, then More > Remove account. To remove your Samsung account, go to Settings > Lock screen and security > Find My Mobile. Then, enter your password, tap on your account at the top, and select More > Remove account.

A Simple Factory Reset is NOT Enough. Please Read.

Now for the Factory Reset, but it’s not as simple as you’d think. Most of us assume that a factory reset wipes everything clean. It doesn’t. Instead, it will merely delete the addresses of whatever data is stored on your device. There’s a ton of recovery software that can be used to retrieve that information, so it’s not safe to leave it as is.

To do a clean wipe, there’s an extra step called encryption. Fortunately, you won’t have to do it for devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and higher because the data on those is encrypted by default.




To do the encryption on older OS versions, charge the phone to above 80% and keep it charging while you encrypt. Depending on the amount of data you have and your device’s memory capacity, it could take hours. You can also encrypt your SD card data but it’s simpler just to unmount it and then remove it.

To encrypt, go to Settings > Security > Encrypt phone. This should be the right path for most devices, but on Samsung Galaxy it’s Settings > Lock screen & security > Protect encrypted data.

That done, you can now do a factory reset. Go to Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset and then tap Reset phone or Reset device.

And you’re done. Don’t forget to remove the SIM and memory card. You can now gift your device, sell it to a stranger or just leave it on a park bench for someone to pick up!

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