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How to completely wipe your phone before selling

Nov 12, 2018 · 1 min read

How to completely wipe your phone before selling

If you want to sell your old smartphone, it’s important that all your sensitive data is wiped clean. Leaving personal details on your old devices can lead to humiliation or expose you to hackers.

However, sometimes a simple factory reset won’t erase all your data. Your device’s new owner might be able to easily restore your files, messages and even photos. Some apps and browsers also might store your login details and passwords, so before you sell your device, make sure that you follow these steps to wipe it completely.

How to wipe your iPhone

Step 1: Back up your data.

There are two ways you can do this.

If you only want to back up your messages, contacts, and emails, we recommend doing so on iCloud. To select which apps you want or don’t want to back up go to Settings> Your Name> iCloud and then select them under ‘Apps using iCloud.’ Unfortunately, if you want to back up your call logs you can only do so by using third-party software like iPhone Backup Extractor or iExplorer.

To back your information up go to Settings> Your Name> iCloud> iCloud Backup and tap ‘Back Up Now.

If you have photos or music that you would like to keep, then sync your phone with iTunes. For a step-by-step guide, visit Apple’s Support page.

Step 2: If you have an apple watch – unpair it from your device. Click here to find out how.

Step 3: Sign out and turn off services like:

  • iMessage: Go to Settings> Messages> Switch off iMessage option
  • Wallet & Apple Pay: Settings> Wallet & Apple Pay> Click on your Card> Remove Card
  • Find my Phone feature: Settings> Your Name> iCloud> Find my Phone
  • Your Apple ID: go to Settings> Your Name> Scroll Down and tap ‘Sign Out’> You will be prompted to enter your password

Step 4: Sign out of apps that store your login details, like Facebook and Gmail, and make sure they don’t retain those details.

Step 5: Delete any saved passwords from your browsers. Click here to find out how.

Step 6: Remove your SIM card.

Step 7: Restore your factory settings.

Go to Settings> General> Reset> Erase All Content and Settings. Confirm your choice.

Step 8: Remove your device serial number from your Apple account profile.

Go to, log in to your account and scroll down to ‘Devices.’ Here you’ll see all the devices linked to your Apple ID. Click on the device you wish to sell and click ‘Remove.


How to wipe your Android

Step 1: Start by backing up your data.

You can do this by clicking Settings> System> Backup and switching on ‘Back up’. Your files, folders and photos should now be secured in your Google Drive and you will be able to upload this information on your new device. Delete photos and files from your phone.

If you have an Android 8.1 or later, your text messages (but not your call log) will be backed up automatically. If you want a more secure way to save your text messages and your call log, you can use SMS Backup & Restore, a Google app that will back everything up on your Gmail account. For a step-by-step guide, click here.

You also might want to sync your apps to your Google account. Apps made by Google will sync to your account automatically unless you manually turned the settings off. If so, you can sync them by going to Settings> Users and Accounts> Account Sync and ‘Sync Now’. Please note that to sync other apps you will have to check individual app settings and sync them manually.

Step 2: Deactivate factory reset protection.

If your Android device came with 5.0 Lollipop or a later operating system, your phone will have Android device protection or factory reset protection (FRP). You will need to deactivate it otherwise the new owner won’t be able to use your phone.

If your phone came with an older operating system, you can skip to the next step. If you are unsure which version your phone is running, then take a look by going to Settings > About device/phone > Software info.

To deactivate the FRP go to Settings > Security or Lock Screen Security > Screen Lock and turning it off.

Step 3: Log out of your Google accounts.

Go to Settings> Users and Accounts, select your accounts, and then click ‘Remove.’ (If you have a Samsung device, remove the accounts from your phone or tablet too).

Step 4: Delete any saved passwords from your browsers. Click here to find out how.

Step 5: Remove your SIM card and any external storage.

Step 6: Encrypt your phone.

A simple factory restore doesn’t completely wipe all the data on your phone and it can be easily recovered. Encrypted data means that even if the new owner of your device tries to restore your data, they won’t be able to access it.

To encrypt your data, go to Settings> Security> Encryption & credentials.

Step 7: Upload dummy data

For an extra layer of security, you can also upload junk data on to your phone and only then perform a factory reset. Just upload a few video files or any other data to fill your internal phone storage. This method will make restoring the sensitive data you’ve already encrypted genuinely impossible.

Step 8: Now you can reset your phone to its factory settings.

Do so by going to Settings> Backup & Reset> Factory Data Reset.

Step 9: Remove the device from your Google account.

Head your Google account’s Recently Used Devices section. Once you log in, you’ll be able to see which devices have connected to your account and are linked to it. Find on the phone you are selling, click on it, and then click on ‘Remove.

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Emily Green
Emily Green successVerified author

Emily Green is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.

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