How to Remove Data from Old Smartphone So No One Can Recover It After Selling?


The prospect of getting a new phone is definitely exciting. But what do you do when the market rates of the new smartphones tend to give you a fever? Well, you might think of giving up the idea of purchasing it all together, but that’s not a potent solution. A wise thing would be to plan out effectively and set a budget beyond which you will not exceed the new gadget in your life. Or better still; think of season sales, discounts and offers- all of which will help you get hold of the new phone at feasible rates. Alternatively, you can also make an immediate purchase without having to burn a hole in your pocket instantaneously! How? Simply sell off your old phone and that would help you save on the costs to a considerable degree.

But there’s a catch here. Deleting Smartphone data before you buy the next big device is of paramount importance in the current times. In an age where cybersecurity maintenance is a topmost concern and hacking, phishing and cyber threats are constantly on the increase; protection of your privacy and information can’t be ignored. After all, you don’t want to run the risk of revealing vital, valuable personal information in the hands of strangers, who would not only feed and exploit them but also cause irreparable damage to you, your self-esteem and reputation in the society.

Here’s how you can get ahead with the process of wiping off data prior to bringing yourself losses of the worst kind.

Learn to back it up

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Whatever data is currently stored in your phone that you wish to replace or substitute using a new one, ensure that the remnants of old data lie nowhere in the former device. Besides losing your prized photos, videos and messages; you will also suffer from storage issues. In other words, you need to make a separate storage zone so as to restore the apps, contacts, messages and other data.

For Apple users, the iCloud storage facility is limited and that creates issues when downloading. So, back up manually to the iTunes section; click on the iPhone button in the toolbar when using PC; then click on the ‘Back Up Now’ button. Android users may experience some glitches. The contacts, calendar and several such data are synced with the Google account. So, you can back up your essential data, device settings, photos, text messages and more. Also, you can make a backup file manually from the settings of apps. Then plug the phone in the computer, drag the backup files on the desktop and you can keep them ready for storage on the phone.

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Remember to deregister your accounts

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Often this is forgotten! A common mistake that most users tend to make at the time of getting the new phone is ‘deregistering’ the previous phone from all the accounts. Believe it or not, erasing doesn’t take off all the data from the phone. As the proud owner of your new phone, you will make yourself prouder, if you ‘re-register’ in the accounts from the new device, after activating it. This largely helps you in ways where you can often be traced or tracked using the phone’s location button. But if you have chosen to walk the extra mile in ‘de-registering’ to ‘re-registering’, you have acted really smart, at least in an information-rich world!

Wipe off the data, securely

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So, once you’ve got everything backed up, erase the data from the device. What you must be wary about when doing is that the new owner of the phone must not be able to find any old file, folder or data, specifically the personal information. You must know that when a file gets deleted from the phone or computer, it isn’t erased instantly. Space is simply marked ‘free’ so as to overwrite with additional data. Anyone using the multiple and easily obtainable recovery software can chance upon the deleted files that happened in recent times.

Perhaps, now it makes sense why encryption of devices is important; that too when you wish to erase data and sell the same. If the device is encrypted prior to a factory reset performance, the remaining data on the device will appear as a messed-up content for anyone who wishes to recover it. This way, personal information is safeguarded.

Unlike some recent ones, an old Android phone doesn’t show the option to encrypt. The other thing you can do is the factory reset your p0hone and then you can use specialized apps (like iShredder) to keep away the free space inside the phone and then get started with factory reset option.

What is this thing with factory settings restoration?

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As per the research carried out in the early part of 2015 revealed that Apple and Blackberry devices show up data once again when a factory reset was initiated.

“Deleting data happened physically, which prevented information to find its way via the new users of the same phone. In fact, Android didn’t have many reasons to rejoice either. In several phones, a lot of data could be retrieved that was stored initially, despite erasing.” – as mentioned by Damon O’Connell, the President and Owner of Flashback Data in his recent interview.

Interestingly, researchers also saw that Apple and Blackberry possess greater control over the hardware. The data thus could be wiped off more efficiently. Basically, operating systems as iOS use the encryption that was built into the hardware and occurred by default. So, a factory reset would only delete the encryption keys. But in Android, encryption doesn’t happen by default. So, the data or information could be easily recovered even when plenty of factory resets have happened.

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Coming to terms with the pitfalls of ‘logical detection’

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This requires no second mention that mobile phones are highly personal. From credit card details to contacts, personal photos, videos, and event schedules, reminders, geo-location, web browser history, Wi-Fi connection passwords, logins, files, folders, and the connected metadata; there is a great deal of information that you wouldn’t want to do away within a jiffy! Cybercriminals are so proficient in their jobs that the Smartphone data could be misused by them. A social engineering attack can’t be ruled as a possibility. In fact, many people have been victims of the same. They have a solid idea of how all this can escalate to extortion cases, frauds and more. In such instances, the criminals even blackmail the user or threaten him in more ways than one, about spreading the data.

In addition to this lies access to user accounts for multiple apps installed in the device. Think of credit card history, online shopping details, social network apps, banking work. You will know how taking some workable preventive measures would render high-end security to owners.

Ruling out chances of the other person recovering personal data will only backfire

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And that’s a fact! Nowadays, a number of tools and devices have stepped inside the market to help you recover every data that is stored inside the mobile phone. We call this the ‘forensic analysis’ tools and used them to break the sequence of actions that would offer greater details about an issue or incident or simply suffice as strong evidence that would lead towards verdicts in court cases too.

What raises questions is that most of these tools are free and naturally. These can be accessed by many who have manipulation and deceptive intentions to derive information they must not.

The last few steps

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Once you’re done with the wipe, get to know if you can revoke the access to the phone using the services of Google and Facebook. Simply visit the Google account and click on account.google.com, find the sign-in and security button and choose the device activity and notifications.

So, you don’t wish to sell?

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If erasing, de-registering and re-registering seem a heck of a job, you can consider complete destruction of the device.

Most experts rightly suggest ‘drilling the device’. Apart from that, you can also try putting the device inside the bag and using a sledgehammer to shatter it to pieces. There’s no harm resorting to the most advanced and extreme industrial equipment to ensure the process is accomplished.

However, this is no constructive solution. You spend some bucks on your previous phone. Doing something as odd as this can often raise sufficient questions about how you value money, in general.

You may also like: 7 Smart Ways to Optimize Data Security at the Workplace.

The Bottom Line: Let your phone get ready to be sold!

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Above everything else, don’t forget to remove the SIM card and the micro SD card. Often the simplest things are forgotten and you will only have to stay with regret. Removing the contents of the SD card totally at times can be a tad complex. So, you can just keep it with you. But if your target is to sell at a higher price, don’t forget to get a micro SD card separately and increase the rate.

You can use this trick beneficially. The number of accessories you have like an original charger, headphones, box and such; and all in a very good condition- you are bound to make more money. Be open to negotiations and you will never have to look back twice!


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Article Published by Souvik Banerjee

Souvik BanerjeeWeb Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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