Q I’ve recently upgraded my smartphone. I want to sell the old one online. Do I need to take precautions to ensure that its new owner won’t be able to lift any residual personal data?
A Smartphones and tablets carry just as much personal data as your computer, and unlike the cellphones of yore, the new devices don’t store all the data on SIM cards, which can be removed and destroyed. Unless you want your gadget’s new owner browsing through your photos, Web history, text messages or contacts, you’ll need to wipe it clean before selling.
This isn’t hard to do as all the big mobile operating systems feature a factory reset option. For iOS devices, head to Settings, then General, and then Reset. Tap Erase All Content and Settings. On Android devices, the reset function is generally under the Privacy menu; for Windows Phone devices, look in the About menu. After a few seconds your smartphone will be void of any personal data.
Keep in mind that, when resetting Android and Windows devices, you’ll want to remove any microSD cards (if your device supports them) before selling the phone, since a factory reset doesn’t touch removable storage.