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6 Things You Need to Do Before Selling Your Android Phone

by on January 12, 2017
in Tips & How-Tos, Phones and Mobile, Tablets & eReaders, Android Apps, Privacy, Tech 101 :: 15 comments

How to Completely Wipe Your Android Phone

Looking to donate, hand down or sell your old Android device? You’ll want to make sure you have a copy of all of your personal data and that you’re not leaving any of your personal data behind for the new owner. Here’s how. (Steps for iPhone owners can be found here.)

1. Back up your data and settings to your Google account

Save backups of your app data (saved games etc), contacts, calendar entries, Gmail, documents in Google Drive, web browser bookmarks, Google+ photos and more to your Google account. Ensure all of your data has been backed up recently by heading over to Settings > Accounts (tap Google) > Select Google account > check everything you want to sync.

You can also back up your Wi-Fi passwords and other device settings. You can find this option under Settings > Backup & reset > Device backup and check Back up to Google Drive.

2. Back up your photos and videos

Back up all of your photos and videos to the cloud or manually to your computer. To back up to the cloud, you can use a number of cloud storage options, but we like Google Photos which gives you free storage for photos up to 20MP in resolution and lets you set your device to automatically backup your photos as you take them or only when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. 

To back up your photos and videos to your computer, you’ll need to connect your phone to your computer. If you’ve never connected it before, you may need to install software or drivers. If you do, you’ll be prompted through the process.

Your photos and videos are stored on the phone’s memory and may be saved to the phone’s SD card, if it has one. Open both locations—the Phone folder and Card folder. Inside open DCIM folder. Inside you’ll find folders that contain all of your photos and videos. Copy and paste the ones you want to your computer and then delete DCIM folder and its contents in both the Phone folder and the Card folder.

3. Back up your Texts and call log

If you’re concerned about keeping a copy of your text messages and call log, you’ll want to back up those separately. One of the easiest to use is SMS Backup and Restore (free in Google Play). The app saves your messages and call log to a file that can be automatically uploaded to email, Google Drive or Dropbox. And if you have the new phone you're transferring to, you can move the data over directly using Fast Transfer.  If you’re an AT&T or Verizon customer, you can back up your call logs and texts with the AT&T Messages app and Verizon Cloud.

4. Encrypt your data

Once you have all of your data backed up, it’s time to wipe it from your device. To ensure all of your data is gone, you’ll need to do more than perform a factory reset. But first, you’ll want to encrypt your data. That means that if someone wants to see any data on your phone, they’ll need your password to decrypt it.  Phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and higher should already have encryption active. To encrypt your data, go to Settings > Security > Encrypt phone. You also have the option of encrypting the SD card. Only do that if you plan on handing over the SD card along with the device.

5. Disable Factory Reset Protection

To disable Factory Reset Protection, you need to remove your Google account (all of them if you have more than one) from your phone. Go to Settings > Accounts & Sync > Google > and then select your account. Tap on the three dots to open the menu and select Remove account.

6. Perform a factory reset

Perform a factory reset on your phone. Go to Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset and then tap Reset phone.

Updated on 2/28/2018

[hand holding phone via BigStockPhoto]



Discussion loading

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Good post. But you missed

From Manoj on January 14, 2017 :: 4:57 am

Good post. But you missed one important point. Before reselling, it should be disconnected from Google like accounts. Otherwise there is a chance to access our connected accounts details.

Much love,

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Question regarding step 5

From Mrgab on January 15, 2017 :: 12:15 pm

Hi Suzanne,

I recently sold my old Motorola Phone. Accessing the android bios to factory reset the phone and wipe all the data, was not a problem. However i forgot step do step 5.
Now the new owner is ‘stuck’ with my account (he cannot even start the phone without it asking for my credentials.
I googled this problem, but with no success (removing my google account from this phone)

Do you have the solution regarding this problem?

Reply

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He can remove it now.

From Crystal D Granite on November 28, 2018 :: 12:04 pm

He can remove it now. Go to Settings > Accounts & Sync > Google > and then select your account. Tap on the three dots to open the menu and select Remove account.

Reply

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Phone screen repair Auckland

From Gabrielle Knox on July 12, 2017 :: 6:13 am

Excellent post, I want to thank you for this informative read about what we will do before selling android phone; I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work. Thank you once again

Reply

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How do you erase phone number from my profile

From JULIE M DUVAL on September 10, 2017 :: 6:13 pm

How do I erase phone number from my profile

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Can you be more specific?

From Josh Kirschner on September 10, 2017 :: 6:18 pm

Not clear what profile you mean. However, if you remove your SIM and perform a factory reset, your personal information will no longer be associated with the device.

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thanks.

From WISH TRIPATHI on December 08, 2017 :: 10:48 pm

I really wanted a place where I could understand this in simple and easy language without making things complicated. thank you so much.

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Josh Kirschner

From Sonja Floyd on February 10, 2018 :: 7:28 pm

Hi Josh. Thank you so much for making it easy to erase traces of an android phone. As I am reading your above: You remove the sim card first, the do a factory reset. Thank you so much for that. Sonja

If it is vise versa, please contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thanks

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I'm not sure it really matters

From Josh Kirschner on February 12, 2018 :: 3:54 pm

Hi Sonja,

I don’t think it really matters whether you remove your SIM card before doing the factory reset or not. Though removing SIM the doing the reset sounds like the optimal approach just in case something gets registered on the phone after the reset with the SIM still in place (though I don’t think it will).

Best,
Josh

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PERFECT!

From SB on February 18, 2018 :: 4:33 pm

I have been searching everywhere for this information since the company I tried to trade in my old devices to sent them back.  Thank you so much!

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You're welcome!

From Josh Kirschner on February 20, 2018 :: 5:13 pm

Glad you found the story helpful.

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IS THIS PROCEDURE ENOUGH FOR

From Amit Pandey on January 25, 2019 :: 3:37 pm

IS THIS PROCEDURE ENOUGH FOR TOTALLY WIPING OUT THE PHONE…CAN ANYONE ACCESS DATA EVEN AFTER FORMATTING THE DEVICE

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Yes

From Josh Kirschner on January 25, 2019 :: 4:24 pm

If your phone was encrypted, then when the phone is factory reset there is no way to get that data back. Anything that was on your phone was encrypted and could only be accessed by someone with the phone’s passcode. Once you do the factory reset, that is no longer possible.

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Previous factory reset

From Odde on May 08, 2019 :: 12:47 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you encrypt your data and do a factory reset, it will only encrypt the previous account/profile. If you did a factory reset previously on your device without encrypting it first, the older profiles are still volnurable, right?
Maybe a good habit to always encrypt your device before you wipe it, or you’ll have to physically destroy your device to be 100% sure.

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Yes, that's probably correct

From Josh Kirschner on May 08, 2019 :: 2:14 pm

It depends on what type of encryption you’re using. There are two flavors on Android - file-based and full-disk - and each has different implications for privacy (you can learn more about both here: https://source.android.com/security/encryption).

To keep things simple, if you’re really concerned about whether a file may remain in your storage from a previous unencrypted user, the easiest thing to do is to completely fill up your storage with other stuff (copy a large music or video folder on your device over and over until it runs out of room). That will overwrite any free space that may contain old file remnants. Then go ahead with your device reset. There are apps in the Play store that claim to do similar things, but we haven’t tested them and many are pretty old so unknown how well they would really work.

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