How to Erase Data on Your Mobile Device

Some of us may be guilty of "hoarding" a drawer full of "old" cellphones, but those devices (and their accessories such as chargers) may be recycled or donated.

Before you do, make sure you remove ALL of your personal information!

Here are eight simple tips to erase your information from your cellphone or smartphone.

  1. Back up the information on the device to a PC or service provider (e.g., cloud).
  2. Notify the wireless service provider (and if appropriate, your office's IT team) that the device is no longer in use.
  3. Overwrite and delete all passwords, PINs and OTPs (one-time passwords). Don't forget Wi-Fi passwords and personal account information on apps or websites, such as banking.
  4. Overwrite and delete security settings parameters, such as unlock pattern, facial recognition, remote access passwords or keys (and if appropriate, your office IT team will remove your work VPN login).
  5. Delete all personal information and applications (e.g., pictures, texts, social networking profiles, etc.).
  6. Delete peripheral device settings such as Bluetooth (e.g., in your car, earphones, etc.).
  7. Remove any installed Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) and delete or erase all files stored on the SD memory card (if applicable).
  8. Use data eraser apps AND reset the wireless device to default factory settings. BEFORE resetting your device, use a data eraser app. Here's a list of app erasers (may also be called "wipe") for Android, BlackBerry, iOS (Apple), Symbian and Windows.

Last Updated: May 2013

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