Simple Online Security for Selling or Donating Devices

82 03/08/2022

By Thorin KlosowskiPublished April 22, 2022

This is just one step in a series created to help anyone improve their online security regardless of their technical knowledge. For more information, see our complete Simple Online Security series.

If you’re getting rid of an old laptop or smartphone, you should take a couple of steps to ensure that you have the data you need first. Then remove everything from the storage drive. If you still have access to your original device, we highly recommend setting up your new computer or phone before selling or donating your old one.

Simple Online Security for Selling or Donating Devices

  • Remove old devices from your accounts: This is another process that varies by manufacturer, but after you wipe your device clean, deauthorize it from your cloud profile. Even if you leave it authorized, when you pass the computer along to someone new, they will not be able to get into your accounts without a password. But it’s best to clean up your device list so you can more easily spot unfamiliar devices in the future.

  • Factory-reset everything else: You should factory-reset anything else you own, and are disposing of, that contains a computer chip—from a video game console to a security camera. Refer to the manuals for directions for your specific devices.

    This article was edited by Arthur Gies and Mark Smirniotis.

    About your guide

    Thorin Klosowski

    Thorin Klosowski is the editor of privacy and security topics at Wirecutter. He has been writing about technology for over a decade, with an emphasis on learning by doing—which is to say, breaking things as often as possible to see how they work. For better or worse, he applies that same DIY approach to his reporting.

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