Today’s smartphones can tell a lot about their owners – they contain everything from vacation snapshots to personal emails to private PDFs from doctors.
All the more reason then to make sure that, before upgrading to a new one, the contents of the old one are well and truly deleted.
If you sell it, the buyer might get a look at your most intimate secrets. And even if you throw the device out, a scavenger at the dump might recover it and stumble on a lot of your private life.
The first step towards putting an old mobile out of service is to remove and destroy its SIM card — assuming the card isn’t to be used in the new phone — recommends the Consumer Centre of the German city of Hamburg.
Also be sure to remove any memory storage cards: both for security reasons and because it might be possible to use them in the new phone.
If the card is to be destroyed or passed on, use a special programme to make sure any and all data is permanently deleted, the consumer advisors recommend. To do so, the card will either have to be inserted directly into a computer or connected to the computer with a USB cable hooked up to the phone, assuming your operating system allows it.
Once the connection is made, the card is displayed as a drive on the computer and deletion can begin.
Connecting the phone with a USB cable is almost always necessary for deletion of the internal memory. However, there are some special apps that can do this.
Whichever method is chosen, the smartphone’s settings have to be restored to factory settings first. But this option is no replacement for a secure scrub of the internal memory and any cards.DPA