Consumer Reports: Wiping data from old electronics

December 24, 2013 3:22:14 PM PST
If you were lucky enough to have gotten a new tablet or laptop for the holidays, you're probably passing your old one on to someone else or sending it off to be recycled.

Consumer Reports says before you do, it's essential to make sure that all your information gets erased.

Heather Feldman likes to stay current with all the new electronics coming out.

"We purchase new electronics all the time, because our kids are getting older, they need more electronics," said Heather Feldman.

But she's not sure how to get rid of all of her old devices and keep her personal information safe.

"That stuff has your entire life on it," said Feldman.

Consumer Reports says it's important to remove your personal data before you get rid of any electronic device.

"Everything from financial documents to photos, you want to make sure to delete all that information before you give it or sell it to anyone else," said Rich Fisco, Consumer Reports.

On many tablets there are built-in ways to wipe your data.

For example, on the iPad, go to Settings and selected "General." Look for the "Reset" option. In the next window, choose "Erase All Content" and "Settings." A box will appear. Hit "Erase," and you're done.

Many newer laptops also have built-in systems. Go to the "Settings" control panel and choose "Change PC Settings." In the next window, click on "Recovery." Underneath the heading "Remove Everything" and "Install Windows," click on "Get Started." In the box that comes up, click on "Fully Clean My Drive."

"If you don't have any ways built into the device that can securely wipe the data for you, you're going to have to use a third-party application," said Fisco.

Consumer Reports recommends D-BAN, which you can download for free at dban.org. It's easy to use and will take care erasing all your personal data.

You also want to erase all your personal information from old phones when you're done with them, and even gaming systems. You can find Consumer Reports' free advice on how to securely wipe all your devices on our website.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2008. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org.


Load Comments