Buying a secondhand device is sometimes the best bet for those that need a new iPhone well before their current contract is up. There are a great number of retailers that can provide some absolute quality refurbished equipment without any risk, but more often than not people find themselves buying their products from friend, families, online through retailers like eBay or Amazon, or even through places like garage sales and stall-based vendors.
In the end, it doesn’t matter where you get your secondhand device, or where you happen to sell your old device, there are always some precautions you should take before doing either. A surprising amount of information can be found on a device’s owner with a few simple clicks, even when you believe you’ve deleted your information from the phone.
So, as we love to watch the backs of all our readers here at mobiletweaks.net, we are going to give you a solid rundown of some of the best tips and tricks, some obvious and some not so obvious, for you to delete your information from your old device before selling it so that you don’t run into any issues regarding security and your personal information falling into the hands of those you don’t know.
First things first, consider that when you delete information from your mobile device, whether it be music, photos, or even an app, that information is not actually gone from the hard drive. It’s fairly well known that information set for deletion is actually only marked by the OS to be overwritten later with new information that’s set to be stored. With the right programs, some very easy to use and download, it is a real possibility that just about anyone could retrieve the old information on the marked sections.
There are a few things going for users, however. From iOS 5 and up, Apple made it standard that any data that is not actually deleted from the phone but is marked by the system is encrypted. This basically makes the information unreadable, even if it is retrieved by an outside program. However, with technology constantly evolving and changing, you can never be too careful or too assuming about the security of any encryption. We hear every day about devices, both personal and beyond, being broken into by the most mundane means. All it takes is for an invader to find the encryption key that is unique to your device and, once again, your information is available.
One thing that you can do to ensure that your device has absolutely no information, even encryption keys, for anyone to find. Essentially wiping your device is fairly easy. Take these steps before this complete erasure of your device.
- As always, backup your device, either to iCloud or your computer.
- Be sure any of your accounts, such as Gmail, iCloud, iTunes, or anything else are logged out of and the passwords saved are removed.
- Erase any browsing histories from any internet browsers you happen to use.
- Make sure your SIM is removed from your iPhone.
- Turn off iMessages so that the next person to use the device is less likely to receive any iMessages meant to go to you and not them.
After you’ve taken these steps, follow the next series of instructions to perform a full and complete erasure of your device. Go to Settings, then General. Scroll down to the bottom and select Reset. Choose Erase All Content and Settings and follow any prompts selected. This effectively erases the entire device, from top to bottom along with the encryption keys, and leaves it a blank slate.
It will take some time to do this, even up to several hours depending on the storage size and capability of the device you’re using. Don’t worry, if you’ve followed the above reminders about backing up your device, most, if not all, of your information should be safe and sound.
Only after performing this deletion from within the Settings menu should you transfer your device to its next owner. The keeps your information safe, even if you’re just giving your device to a family member or a friend.
So what do you do if you’ve forgotten to erase your device before you sell it? There are a few precautions that you can take right now before you even consider selling your device in the future. Apple has made it so that, upon having your iPhone or iPad stolen or lost, you can remote wipe your phone in much the same manner as you can as if it was in your hand. As long as your device is;
- Powered on.
- Connected to a network either through cellular or Wi-Fi.
- The device has the Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod service enabled.
If all of these criteria are met, you can navigate to icloud.com and login using the same Apple ID and password that your was logged in with. Once there, click Find My iPhone (even if you aren’t trying to locate an iPhone and are looking for an iPad or iPod. Click Devices and choose whichever device it is that you’ve had stolen or lost. Under the information window selected for that device, you can choose to Erase that device. After entering your information again, you can erase the device from wherever you are just as you can from when you have it in your hand. Keep in mind, however, that this method should only be used if you no longer have access to your Apple device. Remote Wipe will keep you from being able to create a new backup that will give you access to your information even after you delete it.
In closing, keep in mind that without creating a backup, there will be nothing you can do to retrieve any lost information if your device is wiped either remotely or directly. Apple is notoriously stringent on its policies regarding this and, unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing that can be done if you don’t take the proper precautions to secure your information before your device is either lost or sold.