Wiping your devices

Erasing your personal information from old Mobile Devices and Computers

What do you do with your old Smart Phones and Computers? In a study by TechHive, they purchased 13 Smart Phones to see if they could recover any personal data from them. 5 of the 13 phones still had all of the data on them. This includes pictures, phone calls and messages. All of the items that you would never want anyone to have. The question we are going to answer is how to securely wipe all of your personal data from your Smart Phones and Computers.


Level of expertise required to perform these steps: Beginner

Apple devices make it very easy to erase your personal information however you must follow a few specific instructions to ensure your personal information is removed from the device. The following instructions were taken directly from Apple’s website.

Before you sell or give away your iOS device, make sure that you’ve removed all of your personal information. Follow these steps to protect your data and get your device to its factory default state for the new owner:

1. Back up your device. (clicking on this link will take you to the steps for backing up your device)

2. Sign out of iCloud:

a. Tap Settings > iCloud, scroll down, and tap Sign Out. In iOS 7 or earlier, tap Delete Account.

b. Tap Sign Out again, tap Delete from My iPhone, then enter your password.

3. Go to Settings > General > Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings.

* This will completely erase your device, including any credit or debit cards you added for Apple Pay and any photos, contacts, music, or apps. It will also      turn off iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Game Center, and other services.

* If you’re using iOS 7 or later and have Find My iPhone turned on, your Apple ID and password will be required. After you provide your password, the device will be erased and removed from your account so that the next owner can activate it.

* Your content won’t be deleted from iCloud when you erase your device.

4. Contact your carrier for guidance on transferring service to the new owner. If you aren’t using a SIM-card with your device, you can contact them to get help transferring service to the new owner.

When the new owner turns on the device for the first time, Setup Assistant will guide them through the setup process.

Important: Don’t manually delete contacts, calendars, reminders, documents, photo streams, or any other iCloud data while signed in to your iCloud account, or the content will also be deleted from the iCloud servers and all of your devices that are signed in to iCloud.


Level of expertise required to perform these steps: Beginner

Android’s default reset feature doesn’t work like most people would think. It actually leaves your personal information on the phone even though you can’t see the information yourself. Specialized software can still extract your personal information and this is why following these steps will ensure not even the best software can extract your information. The following instructions were taken from CNET.com and I fully stand behind their recommendations.

I recommend encrypting your device before you are getting ready to wipe it. The encryption process will scramble the data on your device and, even if the wipe doesn’t fully delete the data, a special key will be required to unscramble it.

To encrypt your device on stock Android, enter settings, click on Security, and select Encrypt phone. The feature may be located under different options on other devices.

Step two: Perform a factory reset

The next thing you will want to do is perform a factory reset. This can be done on stock Android by selecting Factory data reset in the Backup & reset option in the settings menu. You should be aware that this will erase all of the data on your phone and that you should backup anything you don’t want to lose.

Step three: Load dummy data

Following step one and two should be enough for most people, but there’s an extra step you can take to add another layer of protection when erasing your personal data. Try loading fake photos and contacts on your device. Why you ask? We will address that in the next step.

Step four: Perform another factory reset

You should now perform another factory reset, thus erasing the dummy content you loaded onto the device. This will make it even harder for someone to locate your data because it will be buried below the dummy content.

Still feeling a little paranoid? Repeat steps three and four as many times as you like. As I mentioned above, though, for most people simply following steps one and two should be enough. Without the encryption pin, which is overwritten in the initial factory reset, it will be almost impossible to unscramble your data.

Computers – Mac and Windows

Level of expertise required to perform these steps: Intermediate – Expert

Removing your personal information from a computer is a little more difficult. This requires a certain level of expertise and can often be a difficult task for some people. You have two options when it comes to wiping your computer.

Option 1: Give your computer to a certified expert such as ourselves (Fleetwood Computers LLC) to perform a secure Department of Defense wipe of your computer. We will provide you with a certified letter that your computer has been securely wiped to D.o.D. standards.

Option 2: Wipe the computer yourself. You can purchase or download free software from the internet that will wipe your computer for you. Formatting your hard drive does not erase all of the data on your computer. One great resource that works consistently for most people who do not have highly sensitive data on their computer is Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) which can be downloaded form http://www.dban.org/ and saved to either a flash drive or CD/DVD. DBAN makes no guarantee of data removal so please be mindful of how sensitive your personal information really is.

At the end of the day, it’s not worth throwing your computer out knowing that there may still be personal information on it. Spend a few bucks and make sure it gets done correctly.

Please leave any questions and comments you have below. If you would like to learn more about our data removal process you can email us at INFO@FLEETWOODCOMPUTERSLLC.COM and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.