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Out with the Old: How to Secure Your Data before Selling or Recycling Your Devices

Posted In Security, Technology devices - By Techtiplib on Friday, September 12th, 2014 With No Comments »

Data security is critical in our modern world. In the last few years alone, many leading companies like Target, Home Depot, Walmart and more have experienced severe data breaches. These incidents allowed hackers to steal millions of credit cards, debit cards and other financial information from customers.

Hard drives and memory cards can hold a significant amount of important data. Passwords, personal emails, private photos, financial information and other data can be easily stolen by malicious hackers. Unless a memory chip or a hard drive is cleared in a secure way, hackers may be able to retrieve data. Even if you are planning on selling your old devices or recycling them, any data on the device could be accessed and used against you. Keep reading to learn the best practices for removing sensitive data from devices before selling or recycling them.

Recycling Devices


Smartphones can hold a world of personal data. Since many people use financial apps, email apps and social media apps on their phone, hackers who gain access to these devices may be able to steal an individual’s identity. Fortunately, there are a number of effective ways to reduce the risk of this happening.

All iPhones and iPads running the latest Apple operating system can securely delete important data. Before selling or recycling your device, make sure to reset your phone. The reset function can be found under the system settings screen on your device.

Smartphones and tablets running older versions of Android cannot delete data in a secure way. If your smartphone is running a version of Android that is older than Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), it’s a good idea to have your phone taken to a professional cellphone shop for secure deletion. A third-party tool must be used to securely delete data on older Android devices.

Newer Android devices usually don’t have this problem. Under the settings page in the Android control panel, there is a reset tab. Clicking this tab will allow a user to securely reset his or her device.

Laptops and Computers

Laptops and Computers can be a treasure trove of personal data for hackers. To securely delete files off a computer before selling or recycling it, you’ll need to download and run a specialized program called Dban. Dban is a boot-up program that runs from a CD or DVD drive. The program writes random data to all sectors on a hard drive several times in a row. This ensures that hackers can’t gain access to an individual’s personal files. If your computer has multiple hard drives, Dban will need to be configured to run on each device attached to a computer. This will ensure that all important data is removed from the device.

While you might feel good about helping the planet when you recycle an old device, or want to make extra cash by selling them, you need to make sure that all your data is inaccessible. Once you recycle or sell the device, you never know who will get their hands on it and how they will use your information. Secure your devices before selling or recycling, and you’ll be able to rest easy as you enjoy your new devices and know your old data is safe from hackers.

Author Bio:

This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, technology, and women’s interests. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughter. She got advice for this article from the professionals at STS Electronic Recycling who specialize in device recycling services.

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