3 min read

Erasing data from computers, tablets or phones

Featured Image

Selling, donating or recycling laptops and other devices

Whether you are looking to donate, sell or recycle an old computer, laptop, tablet or phone, there are a number of steps we advise you take before it leaves your possession.

The most important thing to remember is that your computer or device will hold a lot of data. Not just documents and files that you have saved, but everything in the background too, including emails, photos, social media accounts, browsing history, passwords, Wi-Fi codes and more.

Deleting your files and emptying your recycle bin is simply not enough.

What are the dangers of leaving data on a device?

There have been countless occasions where important data has been retrieved from devices that have not been properly wiped. It is often the case that victims thought they had done enough to wipe and safely dispose of an old machine. Unknowingly to them, this data has been sold on, often auctioned via the dark web.

Remember that deleted files can be easily retrieved using publicly available tools to reveal sensitive data.


The number one priority is to make sure that no one else is ever able to access your valuable data once it is outside of your controlled environment.

Sign up to our newsletter

How to permanently remove data from a device

We would always advise that you involve your IT team – get advice from experts prior to following these steps. Here is our step-by-step guide:

Preparation before removing data

  1. Ensure you have a back-up copy of documents, data and contacts that have been stored on the device, incase you want to access them in the future

  2. If the device has been used to login to an online service, whatever it may be (banking, CRM, shopping), ensure you have taken note of your usernames and passwords

  3. If your device connects with anything smart, for example, Ring doorbell, factory sensors or security cameras, ensure that you have connected them to a different device so you can monitor and access them after you have disposed of the device

  4. For phones, if you have two factor authentication and receive a text message before you can log on to any system, for example your CRM or an online service, make sure it works on your new device

Permanently erase data from devices

  1. To ensure that your sensitive data cannot be accessed once the device leaves your possession, the best thing to do is 'Erase all Content and Settings' or 'Factory Reset'.
     
    The exact name of this and how you apply the feature will depend on what type of device you have. By doing this, you will be wiping everything. This is why steps 1-4 are very important. By resetting your device to ‘Factory reset’ you will be permanently removing messages, contacts, photographs, browsing history, Wi-Fi codes, passwords, and any apps you've installed
  1. Our clients should speak to us directly if they want to dispose or donate their devices, however, the rule of thumb is to always refer to the manufacturer's website. Each device and model will have its own step-by-step guide, even varying between different models. If you’re looking to wipe your phone, then these links should be helpful:
  1. If the option to ‘keep your personal files’ is given when erasing the data, do not select this option. This will continue to save the files on your device if you accept

What next?

Keep up to date with IT tips, tricks and advice by subscribing to our newsletter.

Sign up to our newsletter

8 min read

Cyber Essentials Checklist: Is your IT company competent to help you pass Cyber Essentials?

Many businesses turn to their IT company to help them pass Cyber Essentials accreditation. The National Cyber Security...

9 min read

What's not included in IT support?

IT companies offer a variety of IT services. These can be split into two main areas: IT support and IT project work. In...

2 min read

Superfast IT awarded Investors in People accreditation

Investors in People has awarded Birmingham IT company, Superfast IT, with We invest in people, silver accreditation....