What Do You Do With Your Old Phone, Tablet, and Laptop?

In the case of devices provided by the University, it is of course the University’s responsibility to maintain device security. But for your own personal devices?

That responsibility belongs to you.

Wiping a phone may seem like a waste of time – too much effort for too little gain, but there is a surprising amount of personal data on an old phone and there are people who like to recover such data. A small amount of that data (probably including your account details) is actually University data, so we have a vested interest in persuading you to clean your devices properly before disposing of them.

A recent report into the data recoverable from devices sourced from a well-known online auction site showed that data was recoverable from slightly over 1/3 of the devices.

Wiping a device may be both easier and harder than you expect.

Firstly a “Factory Reset” is not necessarily sufficient to clean a device.  If your device is encrypted (and there are lots of good reasons why you should, and no real reasons why you shouldn’t), then a factory reset is likely to be effective.

Android Devices

If you are using an Android device then use the Google Android Device Manager for the account your Android device is linked to. On the map that appears, you should see a pop-out with one of your Android devices shown :-


Click on the arrow pointing south-east next to the name of the device to choose which device you want to manage (it doesn’t show up if there’s only one device). If the device shows as above then you need to click on “Enable Lock & Erase” and accept that setting on your phone.

At which point it will look like :-


At this point the “Erase” button will take you through a warning dialog and then attempt to erase your device. Assuming it is on-line, it will be erased completely, or it will be erased the next time it managed to reach the Internet.

Erasing an iDevice (iPhone, iPad, …)

Simply :-

  • Back up your data (either using iTunes or to iCloud)
  • Tap Settings > General > Reset
  • Tap on Erase all Content and Settings

These instructions were copied from another article; without an iDevice to hand, I’m unable to test it.

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