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Technology is not perfect, and every once in a while we find ourselves in need of yet another upgrade.

But before you sell, recycle, or throw away your obsolete electronics altogether, there’s one very important step you need to take first: clearing your old personal data.

The Importance of Data Clearing

According to an article written by Kim Komando and published in USA Today, the majority of people do not think to wipe their discarded devices before handing them over. In fact, “of the 85 devices [a researcher] bought, only two were correctly wiped,” Komando reported.

That being said, the reason it’s so important to erase this data is that you can never be sure whose hands the device will eventually fall into. After all, not only might your name, address, and other relevant information be available on your old electronics, but you may also unwittingly be giving away your social security number, your credit card information, and more.

How to Clear Your Data

Every device has its own step-by-step erasure processes that is worth looking up. To get started, we recommend checking out the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) guide on how to safely get rid of your laptop, as these overarching instructions may apply to more than just your computer.

Komando also offers a device-specific list of instructions in her article.

That being said, be wary of any manual data deletion steps you take, as you want to only delete the available data on the specific device at hand — not necessarily from any and all of your access points.

“You shouldn’t manually delete your contacts, calendars, reminders, documents, photos, or any other iCloud information while you’re signed in to iCloud with your Apple ID,” as explained by Apple. “This would delete your content from the iCloud servers and any of your devices signed in to iCloud.”

Devices You Should Clear

Laptops and cell phones aren’t the only electronic devices capable of holding sensitive data. Here’s a list of devices worth scouring and cleaning prior to disposing of them:

  • Laptop Computers
  • Desktop Computers
  • Cellphones
  • USB Drives
  • External Hard Drives 
  • Printers
  • Gaming Systems/Devices
  • Any “Smart” Home Appliances
  • And More

Ultimately, taking control of your life doesn’t necessarily start and end with tackling your finances and/or debts — it can also be a matter of giving your data its due diligence when it comes time to dispose of your device.

Don’t forget to commit to your research, find a trusted business to hand your devices over to, and provide yourself with peace of mind!

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