Do you love new technology? Are you the type of person who's first in line for new smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S8? Are you already excited for Apple's announcement next month about a new iPad Pro?
If so, you know the drill. As soon as you buy a new device, greedy hands start reaching for your old one. If you have kids, those grabby hands come with puppy-dog eyes.
So, who can blame you for giving your children - young or grown up - your old toys? That's generous. But be careful!
Before you give anyone your old devices, there are a few easy but critical steps you need to take. You don't want anyone having access to all your personal files and important documents.
What if you give a device to your grandson and then he gives it away to a friend, and so on and so on? Before you know it, your private information is in the hands of criminals and hackers.
Wipe Your Old Device Clean
If you're like many people, nothing makes you happier than seeing that your children, spouse and siblings are safe and happy. One way to do that is to share your good fortune with them.
If you buy a brand new iPhone 8 (when it comes out), you might have the means to hand over your iPhone 7. But, no matter which phone, tablet or laptop you pass along, you must make sure that you don't hand over a trove of financial information, private photos, important records, your home address and your contacts' phone numbers.
While you love and trust your family, you have no idea where your smartphone or tablet is once it's out of your hands. To protect your privacy, you must take these simple steps.
Back up your data
It's quite easy to save all your folders and files to a backup system. That could be a physical system.
You move your folders and files from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to a hard drive. They're often small devices that you plug into your computer with a USB cord.
Note: Depending on how much storage you'll need to back up your data, you may be able to do it with a flash drive (or even a DVD or CD, if your laptop uses those).
You can also back up your files to the cloud. If that sounds complicated, it's not. Just think about Google Photos, Facebook and similar sites. If you're saving your photos, videos and documents to those sites, you're saving those things to the cloud. The bonus of saving to the cloud is that you can access your information from any internet-connected device.
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You can back up data on your smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop computer. Plus, this is really valuable. You can back up your social media accounts, including Facebook and Instagram. Just think about how many photos, videos, posts and happy memories you'd lose if anything happened to those sites.
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Wipe It Clean
Backing up your files is important, but it's not the only step to clean out your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You want to completely clean out files, fragments of files and other saved data that might not be easy for you to find.
For that, you should use a FREE site like KCleaner. Just take your time before wiping your hard drive clean. KCleaner and similar programs permanently delete files. In fact, those files will be unrecoverable. That's good if you're giving your device to someone else.
Keep your family safe
Hold on! Before you hand your old smartphone over to someone you love, make sure you're keeping them safe. These days, danger lurks in both the virtual world and the real world.
Make sure your device has an internet security system on it. For laptops like Google's Chromebook, you can add extensions like HTTPS Everywhere to its Chrome web browser.
These security systems prevent hackers from spying on your family, stealing their private information and money, and more.
Bonus: These days, there is no reason not to know where your children are. If they have a smartphone, you can remotely keep track of them on a real-time map.
If they're old enough to drive, for instance, you can install a tracking system like Verizon's Hum. For about $10 a month, and a one-time $30 for hardware, you can see where your car is.
But you don't even need an extra gadget to keep track of them. There are apps like Family Locator that you install on your old device before you give it to them.
Tip within a Tip: 3 smart ways to track your kids and teens.