With rampant identity theft taking place, it is prudent to take steps to secure your personal information when disposing of your devices. Let's discuss the need to wipe your computer and phones before getting rid of them. Our cell phones and computers contain a lot of sensitive personal and business information. It is imperative to completely “wipe” your old devices before you trash, donate, or sell them. Without taking the appropriate precautions, whoever ends up with your device potentially has access to whatever private information you had on that device.
For Computers: To completely wipe your computer hard drive, you need to use hard-drive-wiping software (deleting files and even formatting the drive is not enough). There are several options available online, perhaps the best is DBAN ("Darik's Boot and Nuke"), which happens to be free. A good review site with download link here.
For Cell Phones: (A) Android: Interestingly enough, a "factory reset,” has been shown not to completely wipe these devices. To completely wipe Android phones: (1) Ensure fully charged (as the process can take an hour or more); (2) Open Settings; (3) Select Security; (4) Select Encrypt Phone; (5) Once finished encrypting, choose Restore Factory Settings. This will ensure that any lingering data will be inaccessible. (B) iPhones: (1) Ensure fully charged; (2) Go to Settings>General>Reset and choose "Erase all Content and Settings." That's it.
For all phones, you should also remove any SIM and SD cards before you get rid of your cell phone. Following these simple steps, you can dispose of your devices worry free.