U.S. News


Resetting Your Phone Doesn't Actually Delete Everything

Turns out restoring your old phone to factory settings before you sell it doesn't mean your data is gone. The new owner could still retrive it.
Posted at 9:16 PM, Jul 09, 2014

You'd think selling an old smartphone is a great way to grab some quick cash, but it could mean handing over a whole lot of personal, and possibly embarrassing, information. 

"But I reset my phone before I sold it," you might say. Well, that's not good enough according to software company Avast. (Via YouTube /PhoneCoverage

The company purchased 20 different supposedly wiped phones on eBay, and, using a data-recovery tool, was able to find old apps, photos, Google searches, emails and more on the phones. Some even had pornography on there. (Via eBay)

According to VentureBeat, when you wipe your phone, you're not actually erasing the data. You're just erasing the index information for the file so that it can be overwritten with new data. 

Now, it is possible to get rid of that information permanently. BlackBerry and Apple products have wipe tools that can take care of the problem.

But Androids are a different story. Because of how the systems store memory, the reset tool does not get rid of everything. (Via CNET)

Mashable reports some secure-wipe apps on Android's Google Play even include disclaimers that say, "We cannot guarantee that all free space will be sanitized."

Avast, of course, says its own security app is the solution to Android owners' problems, while other tech professionals say filling up your memory with useless information and then wiping it again is the best way to go.