Online security

24 February 2017

Deleting personal data from your smartphone: tips


Want to sell, give away or throw away your smartphone? Before you do anything, think about all the personal information it may contain, such as your address, name, text messages, photos and videos. You certainly don't want these data to fall into the hands of just anyone. Delete your data securely and permanently before getting rid of your smartphone. Let us guide you.

In short:
  • Your mobile devices contain a lot of personal data.
  • To delete them permanently, reset your smartphone.
  • Don't forget your SIM card and memory card: reuse them or destroy them.
Your smartphone says a lot about you

Mobile devices contain a vast amount of personal information, even more than computers. Such as? Here's a non-exhaustive list:

  • your address, your place of work
  • your movements, based on your GPS coordinates
  • the phone numbers of your contacts, and even their address details
  • your call history
  • your history of text messages and chat messages sent via apps
  • your web browsing history
  • access to your e-mails, your bank apps, etc.
  • photos, videos
  • health-related information (age, weight, etc.) related to apps.
Did you know that...

…the deleted data can easily be recovered using tools or apps? So it's essential to delete them permanently and securely!

How to delete data from your smartphone permanently

The above list shows you that your mobile device is a mine of personal information. You certainly don't want this to be made "public". To avoid this, you need to delete all "sensitive" data securely and permanently before you get rid of your mobile device.

N.B.

Before deleting anything from your smartphone, ensure that you have backed it up. This will prevent you losing photos, videos or other personal data.

So the key question is: how do you permanently delete personal information from your smartphone? The best way is to use the "return to factory settings" function. This enables you to reset your smartphone. It's a very simple procedure, but may differ depending on the brand of smartphone you have. Here are the steps you need to follow for the very popular Apple iOS and Android types of phone:

  • Apple iOS : Settings > General > Reset > Erase all content and settings
  • Android : Settings > Privacy > Factory data reset

And for Windows devices? It's not as simple. Research is still underway to find the best way of deleting data from this type of mobile device. Got a Windows smartphone? Please visit the manufacturer's website or read the operating instructions. This will help you find ways of deleting your data.

Don't forget your SIM card and your memory card

Deleting the information saved on your smartphone is good, but think too about the data on your SIM card and/or your memory card.

As far as possible, try to keep your SIM card when you change your smartphone. That way, you shouldn't have to worry about the data saved on it as they will be transferred directly to your new phone. If, however, your SIM card is not compatible with your new smartphone (sizes may vary), ensure that you transfer your data via your operator and then destroy your old card. Don't simply throw it in the bin, cut it up using scissors.

You may perhaps also have a memory card in your smartphone. This enables you to store more photos, videos, etc. Don't forget to remove it before getting rid of your phone! It can be reused with other devices, like an external hard drive. If you can't or don't want to keep your memory card, destroy it in the same way as your SIM card.

Tip:

the memory card is often hidden behind the phone battery.

Do you still have questions?

Want to find out more about deleting data from your smartphone, or are you still unclear about something? You can always get information from the internet or from the store where you bought your smartphone.

To find out more tips about using your mobile devices securely, visit our page.