Remove data from your old phone or computer

Before dropping off or sending a phone, laptop, tablet or desktop computer, it’s essential to remove all your personal information and perform a factory reset, in order to protect your privacy.

Research has shown that one of the biggest obstacles to us gifting, selling or recycling our phones and computers is a concern about our privacy. This makes sense. These devices contain our personal details, emails and files, photos, downloads, apps, and various passwords.

It’s easier to wipe your computer or device than you might think.

Because every phone and computer is different, we also recommend you check with the item’s manufacturer to work out the best way to securely wipe data and perform a factory reset.


  1. Disconnect any external accessories such as your smart watch or smart home unit
  2. Back-up your phone's data to the cloud or your computer
  3. Log out of all your accounts such as Facebook and Twitter and your email
  4. Perform a factory reset.
  5. Remove your SIM and memory card.

For more information on wiping data from your old phone, visit MobileMuster where you can watch videos about wiping data from Android and iOS devices.


  1. Back-up data you want to retain for use in the future. You’ll need to use an external hard drive or a server to store your files.
  2. Save your software serial numbers. Any installed software will also be lost when you wipe your computer (whichever method you use). Review what’s currently installed and dig out corresponding install discs and serial numbers.
  3. Remove programs. Sort out your software licenses for any programs you want to continue using on the new computer.
  4. Clear cookies and sign out. Make sure you delete your browsing history and clear your cookies. It’s also worth making sure passwords for your email accounts have not been saved. Go to your webmail account, Facebook and any other site at which you regularly log in and deselect any options to log you in automatically. Your web browser may also have settings for logging in.
  5. Delete your data. Drag everything from your Documents, Pictures and Music folder into the recycling bin or trash and then empty the folder.

Source: Sustainability Victoria

Page last updated: Tuesday, 4 January 2022