If you're selling or binning an Android phone or tablet, it's important to erase your data first. This involves a two-stage process of factory resetting your Android device plus encrypting the data on it.
With your photos, email access and bank details stored inside, smartphones and tablets can contain a wealth of data that you need to remove before selling or giving the handset away.
Factory reset an Android device
Frustratingly, with handsets based on the Android operating system there are no quick-fix solutions, but protecting your data is still possible. The accepted wisdom is that users should factory reset their handsets.
To get to this option, tap Settings > General > Backup and reset. The path can vary subtly depending on which manufacturer of phone you use.
You should find that Back up my data is already ticked, with your Google (gmail) account selected. This means that you can recover a saved mirror version of your Android device and its data - useful, if you're setting up a new phone or tablet to replace your current one.
Under this, look for the option for Factory data reset. Tap this, and you'll see a screen explaining what will happen if you continue. Tap Reset device at the bottom if you're happy to proceed.
Researchers have found that this process still leaves some user data on a smartphone or tablet’s storage – data that can easily be reinstated using fairly cheap software. For this reason, we recommend encrypting your data, even after performing a factory reset.
Encrypt the data on an Android device
Encrypting your phone’s storage means that if anyone did try to access the residual data on the phone, even after you'd factory reset it, they couldn’t read it.
Before you encrypt any data, decide if you want to remove the microSD card inside your Android device. Some (though not all) Android tablets and phones let you add a memory card to boost the storage space, and your photos and files can be saved here.
There's no harm in encrypting the data on the microSD card (so long as you remember your own password!), but be aware of whether you're doing so or not. Don't forget to remove the microSD card before getting rid of your old device.
On most Android handsets, head to Settings, then Security and then select Encrypt phone.
Android SIM and microSD cards
Don’t forget to remove your SIM card and any microSD cards before parting with a phone. These can contain data on them that you may want to keep, or certainly wouldn't want others to have.