You should always factory reset any gadget before you sell it online or donate it to a charity, friend or family member.
This not only wipes any potentially sensitive data, it puts it back into the state you’d find when first unpacking the thing.
Below you’ll find a primer on how to factory reset almost all kinds of tech, from phones to wearables and games consoles.
If we have not specifically covered the gadget you need to get rid of, have a dig around in its Settings menu.
Reset controls are almost always found there.
Before you begin, it’s a good idea to make a mental checklist before resetting anything; particularly if it’s a phone or laptop you use regularly.
Have you uploaded to the cloud any photos you want to keep?
Have you forced WhatsApp to perform a chat backup?
Have you double-checked you’ve backed up any files you want to keep from your laptop?
All done? Here’s how to do the job.
A laptop is one of the most important devices to reset correctly, because in many cases it will hold even more sensitive information than your phone. And it may be stored in documents rather than email logins you can disable remotely.
Do to the job in Windows, type “reset” into the Start search box at the bottom left of the Windows home screen.
An item called “reset this PC” should appear.
If it doesn’t, open Settings in the Start menu and you’ll find this reset feature in the Recovery tab.
Select Get Started under the Reset This PC section and then select Remove Everything.
Selling your PC on to a stranger?
Click Change Settings on the next page and then flick the Data Erasure slider to “on”.
This makes the reset process actively wipe all your storage drives, overwriting each kilobyte; so no data can be reclaimed easily through forensic-style recovery techniques.
Microsoft makes resetting a PC very easy, which is nice.
MacBooks and Macs
You might expect Apple to make resetting a MacBook or Mac even easier than Microsoft does.
This is not the case.
Reset the system and press the Command and R keys together to enter the recovery menu.
Select Disk Utility in this menu and you should see the drives inside your system.
We need to wipe all of these bar the MacOS install partition, which is likely to appear at the bottom of the list.
You do this by right-clicking and selecting Delete on each applicable drive.
This is an old-school approach to factory resetting a PC.
It may seem a little scary at first, but this is what Windows 10 effectively does behind the scenes.
Once this is done, go back to the Recovery menu or reset and use the Command+R shortcut from a fresh start-up and select Install MacOS.
iPhones and iPads
Resetting an iOS device is a much friendlier experience. Head to the Settings menu, then the General sub-menu.
There’s a Reset option here, home to the ‘Erase All Content and Settings’ control we are after.
You’ll need to input your Apple ID password here, which is the one potential barrier.
To its credit, Apple is very hot on its anti-theft procedures.
You’ll need to recover your login if you can’t remember your password before prepping your iPhone or iPad for reselling.
Android phones and tablets
Where you will find the reset option for Android varies slightly depending on the version of Android it runs; and if it uses a custom interface.
Almost all do.
The standard spot in an Android phone is in the System part of Settings. It’s usually called Reset Options.
Here you’ll find a set of reset styles, most of which are designed to solve problems if your phone starts misbehaving.
We want Erase All Data (Factory Reset), or similar. Android will throw up a prompt; or two to make sure you aren’t doing this accidentally, and you’ll need to input your unlock PIN.
Is Reset Options not where you expect? What we tend to do when resetting an Android is to tap the search button in Settings — usually a magnifying glass at the top-right of the screen — and then type in “reset”.
This should bring up the relevant shortcut.
Then just select the Factory Reset option in the menu that follows.
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