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© Katarzyna Bialasiewicz |

Upgrading to a new computer soon? Don’t make this big mistake

Do you have any old tech piling up and collecting dust? If so, you may be thinking about donating or selling it. This is a good idea, especially since gadget prices are skyrocketing. Tons of people are in the market for a gently used smartphone or computer rather than spending big bucks for a brand-new one.

However, there is one critical step that many people forget to take before getting rid of their old devices. They fail to delete sensitive data permanently, and that’s a huge mistake.

We’ll walk you through how to erase your info from any gadget brought to you by our sponsor, Dell. Need help finding the best tech solutions for your small business? See how Dell Technologies’ Advisors can assist you for free.

Never hand over personal information by mistake

People have been selling and donating old tech for years. One security researcher determined how many people remembered to delete their personal information before handing over their old devices. You’ll be surprised at just how many did not erase them properly.

Josh Frantz purchased 85 devices from businesses that sold refurbished, donated and used computers. He spent about $600 on desktop and laptop computers, flash drives, memory cards, hard disk drives and a few cell phones.

Frantz posted what he discovered on his rapid7 blog — and it was pretty shocking!

Of the 85 devices he bought, only two were appropriately wiped. Most of the devices still had tons of information on them.

With help from a script he wrote, Frantz found 214,019 images, 148,903 emails and 3,406 documents. From all that, he could see email addresses, dates of birth, Social Security and credit card numbers. Yikes!

Don’t let this happen to you. Before donating or selling a device, you must ensure everything has been appropriately deleted.

If you don’t wipe your device, information can be found later. All those deleted letters, financial documents and compromising photos lurk on the computer. All it takes is a little know-how to recover them.

When a file is deleted, your operating system removes the link to the file and marks the space free. That file will still exist on your hard drive until it’s overwritten by new information.

Considering the size of hard drives, it could be some time until that file is gone for good. And think about that old computer you’re going to sell on eBay. You could be turning over your entire digital life to a stranger. Who wants that?

Note: Don’t forget to back up your data before deleting it.

With our sponsor IDrive, you can backup all your PCs, Macs and mobile devices into ONE account for one low cost. Go to and use the promo code, Kim, to Save 90% on 5 TB of cloud backup now. That’s less than $8 for the first year!

Permanently erase sensitive data

© Anton Skavronskiy |

You must erase sensitive data for good if you sell or donate an old computer. Here’s how:

Windows PC

You can get rid of personal data using software tools like Blank and Secure for Windows.

Blank and Secure is a portable deletion tool you can store on a USB stick. It “shreds” files by overwriting the data with zeros before deleting, making recovery impossible. Tap or click here to learn more about Blank and Secure.


When macOS Sierra was released, Apple removed the secure delete option for Trash Can and the Terminal. To shred files you’d like to remove from Macs, you’ll need to use a shredding app like Secure Delete – File Shredder; however, it does cost $4.99 to download.

In case you didn’t know, the popular cross-platform tool CCleaner for PCs and Macs not only does automatic clean-up of your browser cookies, trackers, internet history, download history, cache and even individual session activity. It also has an option for Secure Deletion of files. Tap or click here for more information on CCleaner.


If you’re getting rid of an old iPhone or Android phone, you must do a hard reset first. This will make sure none of your sensitive data stays on the device.

To hard reset an iPhone directly on the device itself, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings > General.
  2. Now tap Reset.
  3. Select Erase All Content and Settings.
  4. Tap Erase iPhone on the prompt.
  5. Enter your Apple ID password, then tap Erase to begin the factory reset process.

To hard reset an iPhone using a Mac running macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, or with a Windows PC:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer via USB.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Select your iPhone or iPad when it appears in iTunes (next to the iTunes Store button in the top right corner).
  4. Click on the Restore button in the Summary tab to restore it to its factory settings.

To hard reset your iPhone on a Mac running macOS Catalina 10.15 or newer:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Connect your phone to the computer.
  3. Choose Trust This Computer and input your passcode if prompted.
  4. Follow the onscreen steps.
  5. Select your device when it appears.
  6. Sign out of Finy My iPhone.
  7. Click Restore.
  8. Click Restore again to confirm.

That’s all there is to reset your iPhone precisely how it was when you bought it brand new.


To perform a factory reset on an Android phone, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your phone’s Settings.
  2. Tap Backup & Reset.
  3. Select Factory data reset.
  4. Choose Reset phone.
  5. Enter the passcode and Erase everything.
  6. Reboot.

If you have further questions about resetting your Android device, visit Google’s support page for more information.

Amazon Echo

There are a few ways to reset an Echo. For the Dot (3rd Generation), follow these simple steps:

  1. Press and hold the Action button.
  2. Wait for the orange ring and that’s it.

For help resetting other Echo products, visit Amazon’s support page.

Nest Cam

Depending on the type of camera you own, you may be able to factory reset it by simply pressing the reset button on the front or back of the device. If it doesn’t have a button, turn to your Nest app.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Look for the option to remove the camera and tap it.

While some of these devices are extremely simple to wipe clean, others require more work. Either way, it’s well worth the effort. The next time you want to get rid of your devices, make sure you’re not handing over your digital life.

Need to upgrade your business tech? Dell can help

Shopping for new tech can be stressful. You don’t want to waste your money on the wrong equipment. If you run or work for a small business, let the pros at Dell help. You can call or chat, explain what you need and get expert guidance to find the right products. It’s free, and you don’t have to spend a dime to get expert help.

Call a Dell Technologies Advisor to help you find the right tech for your business needs at 877-ASK-DELL or

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