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Wiping personal data off old electronics

Handing down used electronic devices? Make sure that all of your personal information gets erased.
January 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Handing down used electronic devices? It's essential to make sure that all of your personal information gets erased.

Heather Feldman likes to stay current with all the new electronics coming out.

"We purchase new electronics all the time, because our kids are getting older, they need more electronics," said Feldman.

But she's not sure how to get rid of all of her old devices and keep her personal information safe.

"That stuff has your entire life on it," Feldman said.

Consumer Reports says it's important to remove your personal data before you get rid of any electronic device.

"Everything from financial documents to photos, you want to make sure to delete all that information before you give it or sell it to anyone else," said Rich Fisco with Consumer Reports.

On many tablets, there are built-in ways to wipe your data. For example, on the iPad, go to settings and select "general." Look for the "reset" option. In the next window, choose "erase all content" and "settings." A box will appear. Hit "erase," and you're done.

Many newer laptops also have built-in systems. Go to the "settings" control panel and choose "change PC settings." In the next window, click on "recovery." Underneath the heading "remove everything" and "install Windows," click on "get started." In the box that comes up, click on "fully clean my drive."

"If you don't have any ways built into the device that can securely wipe the data for you, you're going to have to use a third-party application," said Fisco.

Consumer Reports recommends DBAN, which you can download for free at dban.org. It's easy to use and it will take care erasing all your personal data.

You also want to erase all of your personal information from old phones when you're done with them - and even gaming systems.

See Consumer Report's full report on wiping used electronic devices

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