Wipe elec­tronics clean before recycling

Consumer Reports shares how to erase smart phones, personal computers

Personal computers and phones contain sensitive information like bank account and credit card numbers.

Recycling those devices without erasing that info is asking for trouble.

The best way to protect yourself is to erase your personal data. On the iPhone it's easy. Go to "Settings." Click on "General," then press "Reset" and select "Erase All Content and Settings."

Erasing it on Android phones can be a little more complicated. Usually you go to "Settings" and choose "Privacy." 

Then, you have to consult the manual online for the next steps, according to Consumer Reports' computer expert.

To erase a personal computer, you need to download software.  One choice Consumer Reports said is a good choice, is from www.dban.org.  

You download the software and put it on a CD. 

Then you put the disc into the computer's disc drive and follow the instructions to erase the hard drive's contents.

With Apple computers, the original operating system DVD comes with the software to erase your files. You put it into the computer's disc drive and reboot the computer, holding down the "C" key during start up.

Once the computer is booted up, choose "Utility," then "Disc Utility." Select "Hard drive," and then hit "Erase."

After you have erased your computer and cell phones, double-check that everything is gone.  Cell phones also come with external cards. 

If you don't plan to keep the card, erase it as well.


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