Getting rid of a phone? Here’s how to remove all of your data first

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If you’re old enough to read this, you’re old enough to have owned at least one phone, if not more.

You’ve also likely contemplated selling your current phone to get another one, but have perhaps hesitated doing so because you don’t want to give it to someone else while your data – emails, SMSes, WhatsApps, photos and other personal details – are all over it.

Or you could have installed so many apps, or done a bit too much experimenting with unauthorised apps, to the point where your phone doesn’t work as well as it used to, and you’d really like to start over with a fresh installation of your operating system.

Fortunately, resetting your phone – whether it’s Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone or iOS – is something all manufacturers baked into their operating systems; the question is, how to get to each of them?

Android

This is incredible easy. Simply do the following:

Find and press the Settings icon. Look for Backup & Reset; you should find it under the Personal category inside Settings. Press it.

Android - Backup & Reset

Press Reset Phone. This shows you what will be erased, and asks for your final confirmation.

Android - What gets Reset Edited

Once you give it by clicking OK, the process of restoring the phone to its default settings initiates, resetting it to the state you found it in when you first powered it up. Allow the process to complete and the phone to restart.

iOS

Find and press Settings.

iOS - Settings

Press General.

iOS - General

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the General page and press Reset, then choose Reset All Settings to do a total wipe of everything on the phone. You’ll have to enter your Apple ID and password at this point (the same details you use to buy apps from the iTunes Store) to confirm that it is indeed you requesting the full reset.

iOS - Reset All

Let the phone do its thing, and when it restarts it’ll ask you to set it up again from scratch.

BlackBerry

Your starting place for this kind of thing is always Settings. Press it, then look for Security & Privacy.

BB10 - Settings

Now look for Security Wipe and press it. You’ll be taken to a final screen warning you that the action is irreversible, and that you’ll need to decrypt any encrypted memory cards before performing the wipe, otherwise that data will be lost forever.

You must also enter ‘blackberry’ in order to proceed, a step that makes 100% sure you don’t wipe the phone by accident.

BB10 - Confirmation

Once that’s done, the phone will reboot and present you with its default settings, clean of all your old data.

Windows Phone

Start with, you guessed it, Settings. Scroll through Microsoft’s ridiculously long list of options until you get to About, which you must press.

WinPhone - Where to Reset

Now press the “reset my phone” button. You will be warned that you’re about to erase all personal data, which is exactly what you want. Press “yes” and don’t look back.

WinPhone - Warning

And that’s it! Now you know what to do when it comes time to turn your sold/bequeathed phones over to their new owners.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.

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