Reminder: Factory Resets Don't Make Your Android Devices Safe To Sell

If you plan on selling or donating your smartphone, make sure you do more than just factory reset through the phone's OS. Security researchers picked up several phones "wiped" this way, and found loads of data.

Photo by Carlos Varela

On its blog, Security software developer Avast! highlighted the ridiculous amount information it gathered from just 20 used - and supposedly "wiped" - smartphones. A good deal of the information was personal, and all of it was easily retrieved.

Each of the phones had been reset using the built-in factory reset option, which their users thought wiped their data off of the device. Here's what could be retrieved regardless:

  • More than 40,000 photos, including: over 1,500 family photos of children, 750 photos of women in various stages of undress, and 250 selfies of the previous owner's "manhood".
  • More than 1,000 Google searches.
  • More than 750 emails and text messages.
  • More than 250 contact names and email addresses.
  • Four previous owners' identities.
  • One completed loan application.

If you're going to sell your old smartphone, make sure you remove your personal data manually and then enact a factory reset. Your phone is a treasure trove of information about you, and often includes photos, downloaded documents, app passwords and more. It's worth the time to make sure it's completely blank before you sell or give it away.

Tens of thousands of Americans sell themselves online every day [Avast! Blog]


    Agree. I bought a reset 2nd hand phone and found images of the previous owners nose job.

    This is the same for pretty much every single device using a hard drive.

    Factory resets, or even formats, just mark the used sections of the hard drive as writable. Unless you write over it, the data is still there. This is why 'secure' wipes are a thing. They mark everything as writable, write over it with zeroes and repeat an arbitrary amount of time.

    Of course if this were true of iPhones, there would already be at least ten people slamming Apple on here.

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