It’s a smart idea to erase all personal data before you sell, donate, gift, or give away an old device such as a tablet, phone, or computer. It’s not only a great way to give your recipient a brand new device, but also it makes you and your data much safer. This is more than “logging out”. It removes all trace of ownership from your device.

This article will show you how to wipe your device securely, whether it’s a tablet, phone or computer.

Backup your files first

Back Up Your Files - How To Wipe Your Device - 42West, Adorama

You can’t access any files on your device if you wipe it. This means that all photos, videos, documents and other data on your device will be erased. This is the purpose of the reset process. Double- and triple-check to make sure that everything is saved on a separate device or the cloud. You should save your important files to both.

Make sure to delete any SD cards on your tablet or cell phone (most don’t).

Securely wipe Apple iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, and touch)

Securely wiping Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, touch) - 42West, Adorama

After you’ve backed up your files, unpair your Apple Watch if you have one. Sign out of iCloud or the App Store. This can be done on Apple devices that are older than iOS 8. Go to Settings and then to your name. Scroll down until you see Sign Out.

Go to Settings and select General > Reset > All Content and Settings. You will be asked to delete your eSIM profile if you have a newer device with an eSIM.

When asked for your password, enter it and hit Erase.

Securely wipe MacOS (Macs, Macbooks),

After backing up your files, you can deauthorize iTunes and log out of iCloud depending on which version of Mac OS you are using. These can be found in the Account menu, or under System Preferences. Logging out of iMessage may be necessary. This can be done under Messages, then Preferences.

Next, turn off the computer. Next, turn off your computer and then boot it up by pressing and holding down the keys “Option”, “Command,”” “P,” and “R”. These should be held for at least twenty seconds. You can then unpair Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth pairing is not necessary if you are selling the computer or giving it to someone else.

After turning off the computer, turn it on again and then start it up by pressing Command and “R”, until you see the Apple logo or another logo. Select Disk Utility from the utility menu.

Choose Macintosh HD in the menu to the left. If the hard drive is not listed, enter the name and then erase Volume Group. If it’s not listed, you can just Erase. You can also delete any volumes that are located on the left sidebar.

It is possible that you have performed the main wipe. You can now ignore any volumes labeled Macintosh HD, Macintosh HD-Data. You can also ignore volumes in the Disk Images and External sections of the sidebar.

To return to the menu utilities screen, quit Disk Utility. Select Reinstall MacOS.

Securely wipe Android devices (phones, tablets)

Securely wiping Android devices (phones and tablets) - 42West, Adorama

There’s some variation between different Android phones and tablets and different versions of the Android operating system. It’s easy to do with most Android devices. You can simply go to Setting by scrolling down twice from the top and selecting the cog.

Select System > Reset options > All data erased (factory reset).

This will reset your device to factory settings if it doesn’t work.

Securely wipe Microsoft Windows (desktop or laptop)

Securely wiping Microsoft Windows (desktop and laptop) - 42West, Adorama

Click on Settings in the lower left corner of the Start menu. Look for Security in this new window. Go to Recovery > Get started (under Reset this computer). The option that doesn’t save your files is the best, so ensure you have backed-up everything you need.