DIY Device Cleanup
DIY Device Cleanup doesn’t have to be a challenge but you can’t just ignore and hang onto everything digital forever! I’ve recently had conversations with friends, fellow organizers, and clients about cleaning off old electronic devices in order to recycle/donate or resell them. This is something I am constantly addressing because people are intimidated or don’t know how to clear off their data. Privacy is a critical issue to most of us these days and I’m not saying what anyone should or shouldn’t do. Let me preface by saying that decisions about our privacy are very personal and so each of us has to make a decision based upon your personal level of comfort.
I find it kind of surprising though that so many people just do nothing with their old electronics. Hanging onto them is “decision limbo”. I’m hoping that I can provide a few helpful resources here that will make it easier to know what to do with old phones, tablets (like Kindles and Nooks), computers, iPods etc… All of these devices retain a certain amount of your personal data, unless you never bothered to register or enter anything in that case you can simply do a reset and get on with donating or selling. But 99% of the time there will be a name, account data and other personal information that you want to have removed.
- Small Stuff::Tablets, phones & MP3 players. I’ll start here because there are some similarities with these devices. First, you need to locate what make/model you have, then do a (Google or whatever) search for “how to reset a _______ to factory settings”. You can also start by going to the website of the manufacturer but there will also be quite a few 3rd party options. I find that YouTube video’s are quite often the easiest to follow and you can do a search directly on the YouTube site or through a search engine. (Did you know that there are DIY video’s for just about anything you can imagine?) Also, you should know that there is a difference between “soft” and “hard” resets. The first retains your data and the second doesn’t-it restores your device to factory settings (as it comes to you when you purchased it new).
- The Big Stuff:: Laptops & Desktop Computers. In this case the make/model doesn’t matter. You are trying to remove your data from the computer hard drive. There will be a difference in Mac OS vs. PC OS and a lot of Mac users rely on their local Mac store to transfer the data and wipe out their old machine…okay so if that’s cool with you, that works. There are DIY options as well if you feel relatively tech savy (add “Mac OS” to your search criteria). This is a little technical so I’ll walk you through it step by step, just take your time and try to do so in an undistracted environment. If your device is ancient and only connects to the internet via a cable, you will need to retrieve that (in the big jumble you probably have hanging around:) so you can download some sort of “Eraser”. If your device won’t connect the the internet, you might be better off hiring a professional who owns software that can be installed. On with those of you who can connect…download a program such as Kill Disc or Eraser (please be sure you are downloading from a reputable source!) and follow the steps that will go something like this…Download—–>Install—–>Locate files (instructions will be given by software)—–>Run—–>Empty Trash—–>Restart. It’s going to be a bit more in depth than that but it’s really not hard, this WikiHow page gives examples and clear instructions for both PC & Mac OS.
If you’ve read this through, followed links and still feel uncertain about going the DIY Device Cleanup route, contact your local Mac store, Geek Squad or local computer person do help you out. They will either need you to bring in your device(s) or some may come right to you. My best suggestion is to find them all (hanging around in sock drawers, night stands, desks and junk drawers?). Taking care of them in one session will be more cost effective. Start with devices that might have the most value to someone else, that you can either sell or give to someone.
Work your way through all the devices until your sure your data is secure and your electronic data mountain has shrunk to a molehill. Your bound to feel better not lugging all those old electronic’s around with you. Unless you think your original iPod is going to be your retirement fortune one day…chance are slim that will be the case but if you want to keep a few for nostalgia sake, so be it. Put them on display somewhere where you can revel in ancient electronic history!