The smartphone that you purchased a couple of months ago doesn’t feel so smart anymore. The newest phones and tablets look so much better. Sorry, you’ve caught the upgrade bug. So… how do you make sure your secrets stay your own when you return your phone to the vendor or sell it on Craigslist?
The product development cycles of smartphones and tablets are getting shorter. Technology that was hot only six months ago can feel outmoded to a technology buff.
In fact, more and more, vendors try to persuade us to give up our old tablets and phones for something better. Big-box stores tease us with upgrade emails, and cellphone providers entice us to exchange our old models for new ones — for a price, of course.
Your smartphone or tablet is your life on the go. Everything about your life is stored either on the phone or in the cloud, and you certainly don’t want to hand over your life to just anyone.
BendBroadband’s information security officer, Matt Shaffer, recommends exercising caution when disposing of a device.
“When you are getting ready to sell your phone, give it away or recycle it, you have to make sure that that everything on your device is backed up and that your mobile device is wiped clean before you turn it in,” Shaffer says.
Most of today’s mobile devices are outfitted with flash storage, a more volatile form of data storage than a hard disk.
Before you reset your phone or tablet, you have to back up you device to your computer or store the information in the “cloud.” Remember, some apps still don’t have cloud storage capabilities, so you may have to direct your device to store the information using a cloud service or email a backup file to yourself.
“If you are presented with different options, send it to the cloud rather than email it to yourself,” Shaffer advises. “Email is not the safest way to move sensitive information. At least cloud services send your confidential information in an encrypted format between your device and their storage facility.”
Once you do a hard factory reset, your mobile device is completely erased. It contains no more data than it did when you took it out of the box.
“It’s not always straightforward how to get there,”Shaffer says. “There’s nothing on the device that tells you how to perform a hard reset, but it’s not difficult to do a little bit of research on the Web to find out what to do.”
Shaffer also suggests that you remove the storage card from your mobile device before you hand it over to the store clerk or the new owner.
Now all that stands between you and your new phone or tablet is a complete backup and a hard factory reset. Enjoy your new mobile device and take good care of it for the next couple of months — until it’s time to get a new one.
Here are some common reset paths:
Android-based phones: Go to Menu > Settings > Privacy > Factory reset data
iPhones: Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings
Windows Phone: Go to Settings > About > Reset Phone