How do I delete data from my phone?

Thursday, February 18, 2021 by Mikey Anderson

Nowadays most of us own a smartphone, and  most don't know what to do when it comes to getting rid of it when you get a new one. If you are a contract you may be giving your phone back to your provider. If you bought your phone outright you may be giving it away or selling it on a secondhand auction site. Either way  you'll want to make sure that your data is gone before someone else gets the phone.

All the videos and pictures on the phone could be accessible. Additionally, details on your apps or banking details may also remain.  You don't want other people to find those so you want to make sure that the data on your phone is wiped correctly.

Removing data from a mobile phone

In this video, Mikey from Ontrack data recovery talks about getting rid of data from old phones. 

4 steps for phone data deletion

Okay, so here we provide a breakdown of the steps to follow for removing all the data from a phone.

Step 1: Remove your SIM card

So step one is removing your SIM card.  This SIM card can contain information on it. This can include call logs, contacts and text messages. You don't really want other people to see those. If you are getting a new SIM or changing providers make sure you remove the SIM beforehand.

Step 2: Remove external data storage

Step two is to remove any external storage. This includes micro SD cards or similar. So if you're an Apple user you can skip this step.

If you're on an Android phone then you may well have an external slot in there for a micro SD card. This is usually where your photos, video and files are stored, if on the main device.

Check whether you have one or not, it may have come with the device as new any you have not realised.

You may be able to use the SD card on your new phone. Keep it if that is the case. If you want to wipe it clean then plug it into your computer and perform a full format. A quick format is not going to work, the data will still be easily recoverable. This is something our engineers do every day  for customers who have accidentally deleted data. A full format means the card is ready for use on  another device.

We can recover phone data , and recover data from an SD card.

Step 3: Turn on device encryption

Step 3 is relevant for non Apple users. If you are an Apple user, skip this step. If you're an Android user what you can do is go into the settings of your phone and you can turn on device encryption. What it will do is it will encrypt the contents of your phone storage using a peer or passcode. You set this code, no one else can access that unless they have your credentials.

It's worth mentioning that Apple has encryption built in to all their iPhones. Other modern phones on the market today may well also have encryption, so check your phone.

Step 4: Wiping the phone

Step 4 is means it's time to wipe your device. For an Android user with device encryption enabled you can now go ahead and factory reset your phone. You can be safe in the knowledge that no one will be able to recover anything afterward.

Apple users need to go into your settings and choose the erase all content. This will get rid of all the information on your phone. The hardware encryption that's built-in on Apple devices is going to keep your data safe from anyone trying to access it. Your can be safe in the knowledge that your network provider or new owner won't get your data.

Data deletion and deletion verification

If you've followed all of those steps you can now be pretty sure that as a personal user no one's going to be able to get your data back. It should even be non-recoverable by a data recovery professional.

If you are a company user or have a company phone, your company should be securing your data. Every company should have a data management policy, and should be erasing devices when no longer required. Ontrack offer data destruction and data deletion verification services. These services guarantee that data has been deleted from devices.