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How to wipe personal data off your Android phone

Last year research from security giant Avast discovered that the factory reset option in Android devices do not wipe the personal user data off the phone entirely and can be retrieved by hackers.

The research team experimented with used Android devices and within a short time, they were able to retrieve thousands of photos that belonged to the previous users, hundreds of emails, texts and contacts and they were also able to use the user information for any other activity. Things were easier when they made use of data recovery tools and all the data was displayed immediately.

Although there are several third party apps that assure you of deleting data beyond retrieval, we bring to you these three simple steps you should follow while deleting your data to ensure that it can never be retrieved again.

Step 1. Encrypt your device

It is best recommended that the device is encrypted before wiping data. Due to this, the data present in the device is scrambled and hence, even when you format your device, nobody would be able to retrieve the data and then unscramble it, as the decryption process would require a key, which would be lost.

You can encrypt an Android device by navigating to Settings > Security and then selecting Encrypt phone.

How to wipe off personal data: Android security settings screenshot

Please note that this option might be located in a different menu based on the manufacturer of the device.

Step 2. Factory reset your phone and wipe all data

After encrypting your device, go to Backup & reset > Factory data reset to wipe all the data off your phone.

How to wipe off personal data Android: backup and reset settings screenshot

All the information and data present on the device would be erased from it so make sure that you have a backup of the important information in any other location.

Step 3. Fill the device with junk data

Although an Android phone can be completely wiped by following the above mentioned two steps, to remain extra sure and leave no traces behind, you can load the phone with irrelevant data and then format the phone once again or perform a factory reset once again. This would be the ultimate step to ensure that no data is retrieved from the device at later stages.

Step 4. Factory reset your phone once again

Finally, this would be the last step and by doing so, you would be erasing the junk data you had filled your device with during step 3. Due to this, even when someone tries hard and retrieves the user data after you perform a factory reset, all that they would be able to obtain is the junk data you have entered.

To be on the safer side, it is recommended that you fill your phone with junk data and perform factory reset a few times. This would ensure that no hacker in this world would be able to retrieve information from your phone again.

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