You could lose control of your data in the bargain if you don’t scrub your accounts and information from the phone (Photo: Reuters)

Get rid of your iPhone or Android phone? Do these three things first

Disposing of an old appliance can be environmentally friendly and even profitable – hundreds of dollars. But you may lose control of your data in the transaction if you do not unblock your accounts and information from the phone. Just think of everything your phone is connected to: your banking information, your health data, all your contacts, and more.

Not resetting the phone properly may cause activation issues for the new owner as well.

And you need to ensure a smooth transition to your next phone so you don’t miss precious photos or access important security codes.

When it comes to parting with an old smartphone, you have a lot of options. Apple, Samsung, wireless carriers, retailers, and third-party sellers are happy to take old phones. You can also sell it directly to someone or pass it on to a relative.

No matter where your phone is headed, you should follow these three steps.

#1 – Backup your old phone

The first step is to save the information on the phone you are turning off. iPhone owners have two options for backing up data: iCloud or your computer. For most people, iCloud is the easiest option.

Connect your phone to a Wi-Fi network. Under Settings, tap on your name. Then tap iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now. If your iPhone is paired with your Apple Watch, unpair it. This automatically backs up your Apple Watch and can restore data when paired with a new iPhone.

If you don’t have enough iCloud storage to back up your iPhone, you can now use iOS 15 (which works on models back to the iPhone 6S) to get free temporary storage—just follow Apple’s specific instructions to access it. You then have 21 days to transfer that backup to a new device.

To back up your phone’s data to your Mac, connect it and then open a window on your desktop (what Apple calls the Finder). Your iPhone icon should appear on the left sidebar of that window. When you click on that, you will get a list of options including managing backups. (Here are instructions for backing up iPhone to Windows PC using iTunes.)

Samsung smartphone owners have many options for backing up and transferring data, including Google, Samsung’s Smart Switch, and cloud services like Samsung Cloud. For Samsung Cloud, go to Settings and tap your name at the top of the screen. Tap Samsung Cloud, choose the data you want to save, then tap Back up data at the bottom of the screen.

Once you have your new phone, open Settings and tap your name at the top of the screen. Then tap Samsung Cloud > Restore Data and find the device backup you want. Click Restore > Install.

#2 – Sign out of your accounts

Don’t press the scan button now!

If you are using apps for two-factor authentication, you need to set them up on the new phone or you may lose access to their functionality. This could be your work security app, a Google or Facebook app, or an authentication app that provides security codes for other accounts.

Even tech pros sometimes forget to do this. John Callas, director of technology projects at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, did not transfer Microsoft Authenticator account details when disposing of an old phone. He says he had to go down a noisy route, via his laptop, to stop verification on his old phone and validate his new one.

“People like me are going to find out that you have to do it at the wrong time,” Mr. Callas said.

Follow the instructions of the corresponding authentication app to remove it from your device. After transferring data to your new phone, open the authenticator app on both devices to make sure the tokens go to the correct place.

For major apps like Google and Facebook, which often have their own two-factor authentication, sign in to them on the new device before you sign out of them on the old one. Also, make sure you’re signed out of other apps, just because it’s annoying when you see in their settings that you’re signed in to devices you no longer own.

With the apps left out, it’s time to sign out of your iCloud account on iPhones or your Google account on Android phones.

For iPhones with iOS 10.3 and later, you can sign out of everything at once: open Settings and tap your name, scroll down, tap Sign Out, enter your Apple ID password and tap Stop. This removes the old phone from the Find My devices list, and ensures that no Apple ID two-factor authentication codes appear on that device.

For Samsung devices, sign out of your accounts on the device to disable activation locks and factory reset protection. Go to Settings > Accounts and Backup > Accounts, then find your account name. Then tap on Remove Account.

#3 – Wipe your phone

Now, you can finally clear the board.

On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Erase All Content and Settings. Click Continue, follow the instructions and make sure you’re ready to take that big step, then wait for those last bits of data to fade away. Remove your SIM card, and this device is ready to go.

Check your iPhone retirement success by checking the list of your Apple ID devices. (It shouldn’t be there anymore.)

Scanning an Android phone depends on the manufacturer. For most people, you can go to Settings and tap Factory Reset from there. Just make sure you know your Google login information to avoid blocking photos, calendars, and everything else when you try to sign in on your new device.

For Samsung, go to Settings and tap General Management > Reset > Factory data reset. Tap Reset at the bottom of the screen and then follow the instructions. If your phone has an expandable SD memory card, don’t forget to remove it and take out the SIM card as well.

While some companies that buy your old phone take extra steps to make sure it’s free of personal information, you shouldn’t rely on it. It’s easy to do all this on your own.

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