Not so long ago, James wrote an article about all the things you should do before you sell or give away your computer or tablet. The general principles were fantastic, but what if you’re planning on selling an Android device? What steps should you take to ensure that every trace of you has been wiped clean before someone else takes possession?
If you’ve never considered this before, you should. Privacy invasion is a big deal and it’s never been easier than it is today. You could have some sensitive data on your Android–any at all–and the next person could release it out into the public without you knowing. Photos? Contacts? Private text messages? You probably want to keep all of that on the down low.
So if you’re about to pull the trigger on selling your Android, here are the steps you should take to wipe history on your Android and make sure that none of that happens to you.
Before we begin, please note that I’m using Android Jelly Bean for the screenshots. If you use a different version of Android, the general idea will be the same but the actual menus and options will be slightly different.
Step 1: Backup Your Data
The very first step is to backup your data before you wipe it. Sure, you don’t want anyone else to access sensitive details, but I’m sure you still want access to it. A decade or two ago, backing up data might’ve been a pain in the rear procedure, but thankfully it’s gotten much easier.
Here are some great tools you can use to backup your Android.
- Titanium Backup: About a year ago, Erez wrote a great how-to article on making backups using Titanium Backup. Titanium Backup has often been praised for being the best Android backup tool, so give it a shot. It’s free with an optional $7 Pro upgrade. Note: Requires root access.
- [NO LONGER WORKS] GO Backup Pro: The GO family of apps is one of the most popular apps on Google Play. Personally, I’m not a fan of it, but GO Backup Pro is a backup tool that works and it’s completely free. Can’t argue with that. Note: Requires root access for app data backup.
- MyBackup [No Longer Available]: A serious contender to Titanium Backup. It has a bunch of great features that make backing up easy and painless. Can be upgraded to a Pro version for $5. Note: Requires root access.
Step 2: Remove SD & SIM Cards
The SIM card is what holds your carrier information and subscription information – and in some cases, your contacts list and photos. You’ll need it for your next phone, so you don’t want anyone getting a hold of your SIM card. Make sure you take it out of your phone before you sell it.
Along the same lines, make sure you remove any external SD cards from your device. If you have an SD card, then you know that it works like extra storage space. When selling a phone, it isn’t expected to include the SD card, so take that out and keep it with you.
If you want to clear your SD card before you remove it, then you can do that through the Android settings. Navigating to Settings, then Storage, then Erase SD.
Once the SIM and SD cards are removed, the only thing left in your phone should be the battery. At this point, all you have left to do is to clear the internal data and settings.
Step 3: Reset To Factory Defaults
Clearing the internal data of a phone is the most important step. That’s where you’ll find most of your app data, app settings, search history, personal files, and more. Can you imagine what it would be like if you sold your phone and they had your Facebook login details? Let’s avoid that.
The quickest and surest way to wipe out everything is to return your phone to factory default settings. As the term indicates, doing this will reset the state of your phone’s software back to when it was first shipped from a factory.
You may have to search around your Android settings for this feature, but it’ll always be called Factory Reset. After you perform the reset, your phone will reboot and you should see that your phone has returned to how it was when you first got it.
If you’ve customized your Android phone’s ROM, then a Factory Reset will not reset it to the factory-shipped ROM. In this case, it’ll be up to you and the buyer to decide if you’d rather sell it as-is or return it to the original ROM.
And that’s it. Give your device a look over and determine if there are any remnants of your personal data on it anywhere. Once you’re satisfied that your device has been wiped clean, then you can proceed with selling it or giving it away or whatever else you plan to do with it.
Do you have any questions or remarks? If so, feel free to share them in the comments.