How to Fully Erase and Wipe Personal Data From Android Devices Before Selling

Selling or giving away your old Android phone or tablet? It’s crucial to fully erase all personal data first to protect your privacy. An Android device can contain sensitive information like contacts, photos, messages, browsing history, login credentials, and more.

Simply deleting files or doing a factory reset is often not enough – data recovery software can still retrieve erased files. You need to completely wipe your Android device before selling or disposing of it. Here’s how to do it properly in 6 steps:

Back Up Your Data

Before wiping your Android device, ensure you have backed up any data you want to keep. Back up to either:

  • Google Drive – If Backup to Google Drive is enabled in Settings, your device data, settings, apps, SMS, and call logs are automatically backed up.
  • External SD card
  • Computer
  • Cloud storage services

Backing up first allows you to restore your data to a new phone.

Encrypt Your Data

Encrypting your device data adds an extra layer of security. Encrypted data remains protected even if restored.

To enable encryption:

  • Go to Settings > Security > Encryption
  • Select “Encrypt phone” and set a password
  • Wait for the encryption process to complete

Encryption means even recovered data stays unreadable and secure.

Overwrite With Junk Data

Overwriting fills up storage with junk files that also get erased:

  • Download large dummy files like videos to max out storage space
  • Perform factory reset – the junk files will be erased over your data
  • Makes data recovery exponentially harder

Factory Reset Your Device

A factory reset erases all user data from an Android device. But deleted files can still be recovered, so overwrite first.

To factory reset:

  • Go to Settings > System > Reset options
  • Select “Erase all data (factory reset)”
  • Confirm and wait for completion

Files remain recoverable unless storage is overwritten.

Remove Accounts

Additionally, unlink your online accounts from the device:

  • Go to Settings > Accounts
  • Remove any listed Google, Samsung, or other accounts
  • This cuts off access in case data is restored

Remove SIM and SD Card

Finally, take out any physical storage:

  • Remove SIM card
  • Remove SD card if one is inserted
  • Keep them or discard safely so they cannot be accessed

Following this 6-step process will fully wipe an Android device, leaving no personal data for the next owner to recover. You can then sell, donate or dispose of your device safely.

Alternative: Use Data Eraser Software

As an alternative to manually wiping your device, you can use dedicated Android data eraser tools for convenience:

These tools securely overwrite all device data in multiple passes, preventing any chance of recovery.

While paid versions unlock full features, free trials let you preview exactly what data will be erased.

The Risks of Selling an Unwiped Device

Without fully wiping, sensitive information remains accessible to the next owner from restoring backups or using data recovery software.

Potential risks include:

  • Identity theft from obtained contacts, credentials, etc.
  • Fraud such as accessing your bank or shopping accounts
  • Ransomware, malware, or phishing attacks
  • Harassment/stalking with access to photos, messages, call logs
  • Selling data found on your device on the dark web

Wiping properly defends against these by erasing and overwriting all personal data.

Remember to Wipe Accessories Too

Don’t forget to also wipe any connected accessories if selling them:

  • Smartwatches – Unpair from your phone. Reset to factory settings.
  • Fitness trackers – Delete from app, unpair from phone.
  • Wireless earbuds – Forget device from Bluetooth settings.

Follow device-specific processes to erase personal data from them before selling.

Takeaways on Wiping Android Devices

  • Back up wanted data first
  • Encrypt device storage
  • Overwrite files by adding junk data
  • Factory reset to erase everything
  • Remove online accounts
  • Take out SIM and SD cards
  • Use eraser software for convenience
  • Fully wipe to protect privacy

Properly wiping your Android phone or tablet before selling or disposing is crucial to avoid privacy violations. Following these methods deletes all personal content beyond recovery.

Your data is your own – don’t let it fall into the wrong hands. Wipe devices fully and sell safely!