As we discuss in our May issue, you can recycle your old electronics—cell phones, tablets, computers, TVs, and more—and even get some cash back (if they're not too old) from companies like Amazon, Glyde, and NextWorth. But before you cart off that box of old gizmos, protect yourself by wiping your personal data from these devices. Here's how:
Phones and tablets: Back up the files you want to keep, such as photos, PDFs, or music. Remove any memory or SIM cards. Then go to your device's settings and reset it to factory default mode. Apple has a good primer on how to reset your iPhone or iPad, while GadgetReview.com has one for Android phones, and Blackberry posts similar info on their site.
Laptops: You can securely erase the entire hard drive, including the operating system, with Darik's Boot and Nuke software, which you can download for free. You can erase individual files on a Mac with the Secure Empty Trash option, and on Windows PCs with freebies such as Eraser.
Televisions: For older-style tube TVs, prep isn't necessary. In the unlikely event your recycling a newer Internet-connected smart TV, you'll need to restore the factory settings to ensure that your account info for services such as Netflix is deleted. Because there are so many different smart TV models out there, the easiest way to find out how to reset your TV is to go to Google and type in your TV brand, the model, and "restore factory settings."
For more information: Want to know more about how to wipe personal data from computers, gaming consoles, smart phones and tablets? Check out this in-depth blog post from our sister publication, Consumer Reports.