We’ve got a couple of old cell phones around the house and I'm sure we're not alone. I've been meaning to donate them to a good cause (Cell Phones for Soldiers, National Coalition for Domestic Violence, ASPCA, to name a few), but I haven't done it because I'm not sure how to make sure my personal information is wiped.
It turns out there's more to it than deleting contact information and removing the SIM card. Not only do we need to worry about our phone book, we need to erase the call log (received and made), voicemails, email and text messages (sent and received), organizer folders, Web search history, photos and any other personal secure information - such as bank accounts and credit card numbers.
Our phones have become our electronic filing cabinets and we need to clean them out before passing them on.
There's no one quick way to do this "hard reset." Unfortunately, each phone's make and model has a different method. If you still have your phone's user manual, look for words like “delete data” or “reformat device” for the procedure.
No manual or no luck trying their way? Check out your wireless provider’s website or the phone manufacturer's website to see if they offer information on how to permanently delete information. I also found numerous YouTube videos explaining the step-by-step process for various phones.
I tried the data eraser for one of our phones and there were only two steps to obliterate all my personal data from it.
OK, even I can handle that. Time to erase and donate!