Before You Wipe Your Phone
- Back up all your data: Avoid the dreaded “new phone, who dis?” (unless you’re trying to leave some friend behind…) by backing up all the data stored on your phone, especially the contacts, and transferring it to your new model.
- Log out: of all sites and apps (including social media, banking apps, email) and wipe data from web browsers and apps, if possible.
- Revoke access and authorization: for the phone on sites like Google and Facebook. For Facebook, go to Settings > Security and Login, to see a list of places you are currently logged in (hit log-off for any on your phone) and a list of authorized devices, from which you should remove the phone. For Google, to go My Account > Device activity & security events to see a list of devices with active sessions and/or authorization. You can remotely terminate sessions on your phone and revoke authorization for the phone.
- Remove your SIM card: SIM cards store phone numbers, contacts, and old text messages-all potentially sensitive information. They’re generally located under the battery cover or in a specific SIM card slot: your phone’s instruction manual will tell you where and if you don’t have access to that, the manufacturer’s website, or a simple Google search, can guide you. The SIM card looks like a small computer chip. Unless you’re switching provider, you’ll need it for your new phone. But if you are disposing of the SIM card, don’t simply throw it into the bin. Your personal data could then be recoverable by anyone who stumbles across that card and slips it into a phone. You’ll need to destroy it to prevent it from being used by anyone else. To properly do this, shred the SIM card with scissors, ensuring you’re cutting through the bronze foil area, where all the data is stored. Throw the pieces in the bin.
- Remove your micro SD card: many smartphones and tablets also store data, including photos, videos, and music, on micro SD cards. They’re generally located in specific micro SD hatches; an instruction manual should direct you if you can’t find it. Again, if you wish to throw it away after you’ve backed up the data on it, you should cut it up first.
- Write down: your phone’s serial number the identification provided by the manufacturer) and IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, your phone’s unique 15-digit identification code. You can find out your IMEI number by punching *06# into the phone’s dial pad. You’ll need this information if you later suspect data has been stolen from your ecycled phone.
Wiping iPhones and iPads
Step 1: Before starting the reset, unpair your Apple Watch (if you have one) from your iPhone. To do this, keep your Apple Watch and iPhone close together, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, go to My Watch, click the information symbol next to the watch, and click the red Unpair Apple Watch on the bottom of the screen that appears.
Step 2: Turn off Find My iPhone. Go to Settings > [Your Name] (Apple ID) > iCloud > Find My iPhone and toggle off.
Step 3: Turn off and sign out of iCloud, iTunes, and the App Store.
- On iOS 10.3 or later you can sign out of all three at once: Go to Settings > [Your Name] (Apple ID) > scroll down and tap Sign Out > Enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off
- On iOS 10.2 or earlier you have to sign out of iCloud and then iTunes and the App store separately. For iCloud, go to Settings > iCloud > Sign Out > tap Sign Out > then tap Delete from My [iPhone or iPad] and enter your Apple ID password. To sign out of iTunes and the App store go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > Sign Out.
Note. If you wipe all the data from your phone without signing out of iCloud, it will delete all the data you’ve stored on iCloud too, which you don’t want to do.
Step 4: It’s at this point that you might want to sign out of all apps and accounts on your phone, such as those for social media.
Step 5: Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. You need to enter your Apple ID or password or your device password. Enter and tap Erase [iPhone/iPad].
Step 6: Remove the device from your Apple account at appleid.apple.com.
Step 7: Make sure the activation lock is turned off. This feature on iOS devices can be turned on remotely which prevents anyone from reactivating a reset phone. It’s often turned on when a phone has been stolen, to prevent it from being reused. But if it’s turned on, it will mean that the recycler will also be unable to reactivate the phone without your Apple ID and password. If they receive a device in this condition, sellers will ask you to remotely deactivate the activation lock (this can be done online through your iCloud account) and may reduce the offered price if you fail to do this promptly.