3 things to do before getting rid of your old phone

Getting rid of an old device can be environmentally friendly and even lucrative – worth hundreds of dollars. However, you may lose control of your data if you do not scrub your accounts and information from your phone. Just think of everything your phone is connected to: your bank details, your health data, all your contacts and more.

Improper resetting of a phone can also cause activation problems for the new owner.

And you need to ensure a smooth transition to your next phone so you do not miss out on precious images or access to important security codes.

When it comes to parting with an old smartphone, you have plenty of options. Apple, Samsung, wireless providers, retailers and third-party retailers like to take old phones. You can also sell them directly to someone or pass them on to a relative.

Wherever your phone is headed, follow these three steps.

# 1 – Back up your old phone

The first step is to save the information on the phone you are retiring. iPhone owners have two options for backing up data: iCloud or your computer. For most people, iCloud is the easiest option.

Connect your phone to Wi-Fi. Under Settings, tap your name. Then tap iCloud> iCloud Backup> Backup Now. If your iPhone is paired with an Apple Watch, cancel the pairing. This backs up your Apple Watch automatically, and the data can be restored when you pair it with a new iPhone.

If you do not have enough iCloud storage to back up your iPhone, you can now use iOS 15 (which works on models back to iPhone 6S) to get free temporary storage – just follow Apple’s specific instructions to access it. You then have 21 days to transfer that backup to a new device.

To back up your phone’s data to your Mac, connect it and then open a window on your desktop (what Apple calls the Finder). The icon for your iPhone should appear in the left sidebar of this window. When you click on it, you will get a menu of options, including managing backups. (Here are instructions for backing up an iPhone to a Windows PC using iTunes.)

Samsung smartphone owners have several options for backing up and transferring data, including Google, Samsung’s Smart Switch and cloud services like Samsung Cloud. For Samsung Cloud, go to Settings and tap your name at the top of the screen. Tap Samsung Cloud, select what data you want to save, and then tap Back up data at the bottom of the screen.

Once you have your new phone, open Settings and tap your name at the top of the screen. Then tap Samsung Cloud> Restore data and look for the device backup you want. Touch Restore> Install.

# 2 – Log out of your accounts

Do not press the Delete button yet!

If you are using apps for two-factor authentication, you must configure them on the new phone, otherwise you may lose access to their features. This can be your work security app, a Google or Facebook app, or an authentication app that provides security codes for other accounts.

Even technical professionals sometimes forget to do this. Jon Callas, director of technology projects at Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, did not transfer his Microsoft Authenticator account information when he got rid of an old phone. He says he had to go an annoying route via his laptop to turn off confirmation on his old phone and validate his new one.

“People like me will find that you have to do this at an inconvenient time,” said Mr. Callas.

Follow the instructions in the corresponding authentication app to remove it from your device. After transferring data to your new phone, open the authentication app on both devices to make sure the codes go to the right place.

For larger apps like Google and Facebook, which often have their own two-factor authentication, sign in to them on the new device before signing them off on the old one. Also, be sure to log out of other apps, if nothing else because it’s annoying when you see in their settings that you’re logged in to devices you no longer own.

With apps gone, it’s time to sign out of your iCloud account on iPhones or your Google account on Android phones.

For iPhones running iOS 10.3 and later, you can sign out of everything at once: Open Settings and tap your name, then scroll down, tap Sign out, enter your Apple ID password, and tap Turn off. This removes the old phone from your Find My Devices list and ensures that any Apple ID two-factor authentication codes are no longer displayed on this device.

For Samsung devices, sign out of your device accounts to disable activation locks and factory default protection. Go to Settings> Accounts & backup> Accounts, then search for your account name. Then tap Remove account.

# 3 – Delete your phone

Now you can finally wipe the board clean.

On your iPhone, go to Settings> General> Transfer or Reset iPhone> Delete All Content and Settings. Tap Continue, follow the instructions and confirm that you are ready to take this big step, then wait for the last pieces of data to disappear. Remove your SIM card and that device is ready for use.

Confirm that your iPhone retirement was successful by checking your Apple ID device list. (It should not be there anymore.)

Deleting an Android phone depends on the manufacturer. For most, you can go to Settings and press Factory Reset from there. Just make sure you know your Google login information to avoid being locked out of your photos, calendars and everything else when trying to sign in to your new device.

For Samsung, go to Settings and tap General Administration> Reset> Restore Factory Data. Tap Reset at the bottom of the screen, then follow the instructions. If your phone has an expandable SD memory card, do not forget to remove it and remove the SIM card.

While some companies that buy your old phone take extra steps to make sure it is free of privacy, you should not count on them. It’s easy enough to do all this yourself.

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