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How-To

Wipe personal data from your Android device before you upgrade

So you've just wiped your personal computer, and now you need to do the same for your phone or tablet? Here's how you remove personal data for good from your Android device before you get rid of it.

Even if you're just disposing of or returning your Android device, you should take proper precautions to remove sensitive personal information from it before you do. This can be accomplished by "hard resetting" your device, which wipes the memory of all of your apps, data, documents, and downloads. Because of the wide variety of Android devices on the market, the instructions can vary, but there are a few base instructions to keep in mind.

  • The first place you should look is in the "Settings" application on your device. You will almost always find the reset option hidden somewhere in these menus.
  • On Motorola's recent phones, the option should be under "Storage."
  • On Samsung-branded phones, the reset should be located in the "Privacy" menu.
  • On stock Android devices, like the 1st or 2nd-gen Nexus 7, the Nexus 10, the Galaxy Nexus, the HTC One Google Play Edition, or the Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play edition, the option to reset your device is in "Backup & reset."

If you can't find the reset option on your device, you're likely to find the answer by searching the Internet for your device model plus the keywords, "factory reset."

Also, if your phone uses a microSD card, make sure you wipe that as well. Often, the phone will prompt you to format the card when you do a factory reset, but if not, take the card out of your phone and format it on a computer. Or just take the card out before you get rid of the device.

There really aren't any more steps, or additional options as with wiping a computer. There are no extra security options to be aware of; Android takes care of it all by itself. Once you've successfully wiped the device, you can feel safe in selling or giving it to someone else, or just putting it in storage.

Photo: Marduhk