Upgrading your phone? 6 tips to get rid of the old one

It's that time of year again.  The major manufacturers are releasing their new phones and many people will be upgrading from old ones.  Whether you go with the new iPhone 6/6 Plus or a new Android phone (Moto X/Nexus) or another phone (WinMo - blergh), it is important to properly cleanse and dispose of your old phone.

It should be no surprise to you that our phones contain a vast amount of data about us.  There have been major breaches gathering some of this data, and other smaller ones that we may not know about yet.  This data could be informational (such as notes containing passwords or files containing personal information) or sensitive pictures.  If not properly cleansed, your data could be obtained by the next owner, and even released to the rest of the internet.  So how do you properly dispose of an old phone and make sure that your data has been removed?


  • Backup your data - You want to make sure to backup all your old data to move to your new phone.  This could be by using iTunes or ensuring your data is in "the cloud".  Some manufacturers have an easy way to move to a new phone (iOS-iTunes, MotoX-Motorola Migrate).  Or, if you are like me, you can keep most of your important information in a service, such as my contacts in GMail, so it is easy to move from one phone to another.  No matter what you do, you probably do not want to lose data, so backup first.

  • Restore data to your new phone - Before getting rid of your old phone or wiping the data, you want to make sure everything is restored to your new phone and working.  You can take time doing this unless you are selling your old phone and need to do so quickly.  This way if you miss anything, you can grab the old phone and get the information off.

  • Wipe your old phone - This will help prevent someone from grabbing data off your phone.  Each phone is different, but on iOS you would go to:  Settings > General > Reset and click Erase All Content and Settings.  On Android, you would go to:  Settings > Backup & Reset > Factory Data Reset.  Doing this will set your phone back to factory default settings, as if you turned on the phone for the first time.

  • Remove your SIM card - There is often data on the SIM card that links back to you.  Remove it and use in your new phone, or destroy.  The new user can get their own SIM.

  • Remove and/or Format your SD card - For Android phones, the SD card can hold a lot of information on it.  If you want to keep the SD card, remove it and use it.  Or you can format it.  With newer versions of Android, and depending on your manufacturer, your SD card may be virtualized, in which cast the wiping should format the virtual SD card.  If you have a physical SD card, go to:  Settings > Storage > Erase SD card.

  • Properly dispose of your old phone - Once your data has been removed from your old phone, and you are using your new phone, it is time to dispose of your old phone.  There are many places that will recycle your used phones.  Best Buy is one place that does.  You can also sell it online using eBay or a handful of places will buy it from you.  Or you can use it for a mp3 player or give to someone else.  Whatever you do, please don't throw in the garbage.  That would be bad for the environment.


So there you go.  6 tips to get rid of your old phone.  Have fun with your new phone! And if you want to hack the apps on it, check out my other blog posts on Hacking your apps.

Bonus tip!:  I will give you one last bonus tip.  When you are replacing your phone, it is a good time to determine what apps you are using and services and see if they are linked to anything you do not want them to be.  An example would be apps that are linked to your Facebook or Twitter accounts or other services that are tied to your phone.  The process is different to determine this, but if you log in your service and look at the settings, you should be able to find them.

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