Updated On July 15, 2021
In a previous blog post, we addressed how to wipe your data from your iPhone before selling it. Now, we’d like to do the same for Android phone users who want to sell their phones.
Interestingly, a recent security study found that after buying 20 Android phones on eBay, researchers were able to recover over 40,000 photos, hundreds of emails, texts and contacts and even four identities of the phones’ original owners – using regularly available data recovery software! When you stop to think of the sensitive information we store in our phones nowadays – from highly personal conversations to valuable financial and business data – this security study should be an eye-opener.
Clearly, the question of how to wipe your Android phone is a valid one. Remember that doing a simple factory reset isn’t enough – a determined person with the right recovery software could still find a good amount of your information.
How to Completely Wipe My Android Phone Before Selling
Clearing your Android phone comes down to a number of relatively easy but crucial steps:
Back up your data: Before erasing anything, you’ll want to have your data ready to transfer to your next phone without losing a thing. The best way to do this is either by connecting your phone to your computer via a USB cable and copying the data on your SD card to your computer or by backing up your data virtually by syncing your phone with your Google account.
If your phone has a microSD card: In general, you can remove the microSD card from your old phone to add to your new device, bringing along photos and videos in the process. However, should your new phone not have this, backup anything stored on the card first by copying all files to your computer, and then delete all information from the card. To do this, you’ll want to employ layering to erase its contents. We cover what this is below.
Encrypt your phone: Encrypting your phone will scramble any data left so that it can’t be recovered without the encryption key. To encrypt most Android phones, go to your settings and click on “security.” You should see a prompt for “encrypt phone.” It might be located elsewhere on different devices, but once you find it, select it and enter the required numeric PIN. Your data will then become unreadable to others.
Disable Factory Reset Protection (FRP): Added as an additional security protocol, Factory Reset Protection (FRP) comes in handy if your device is stolen and the thief attempts to wipe its settings clean. As you’re going about this process yourself, you’ll have to disable FRP before performing a factory reset. To do this, Android users have to complete two general steps: disable screen lock to prevent restricting access to the device and removing your Google accounts, starting with any secondary ones before deleting your primary account.
Complete a factory reset: Now that you’ve backed up your data and encrypted your phone, it’s time to perform a factory reset. You can complete this step on the majority of Android phones by navigating to the “backup and reset” option and selecting “factory data reset” on the settings menu. Once you’ve completed this step, it will appear as though your data has been wiped from your phone.
Load new data and repeat factory reset (optional): Layering is a strategy cybersecurity experts trust. In this case, it means that as an extra precaution, you should load another set of dummy photos, contacts and general data onto your phone, and then perform another factory reset. By doing this once or even twice, you can bury your real data so thoroughly that even the most determined individual won’t be able to recover it.
Restore your old files onto another phone: Especially if you’ve had your device for a number of years, you don’t want to start from scratch when you purchase a new phone. At this stage, you can insert your microSD card into your new phone. This automatically transfers anything stored on your previous device. Or, with your information backed up onto your computer, you can use a USB cable to transfer it over to your new device once you’ve logged into your Google account.
Sell Your Used Android Phone
If you’d like even more information on what to do before selling your Android phone, including how to fully clean it, contact us today. At The Whiz Cells, we’re as much about personal privacy and data security as we are about getting you the most cash for your phone.