✏ How to erase your phone before you recycle

No file is ever really gone when you hit the ‘delete’ button. It just becomes invisible to the user and marked as “free space”. Then it is left chilling in the background until the system needs the space again. New files then replace the older ones. This is a problem when you want to part with your old phone and either sell it, give it away or have it recycled by Fairphone.

All phones received by Fairphone are processed by TeqCycle. They use Blancco software to securely erase all the phones they receive. The erasure is a certified process where TeqCycle can proof that the data has truly been removed from the devices memory. If phones can not be erased by the software of Blancco, because they are too old, or in another way not compatible with the software, they are destroyed and recycled.

But we understand if people want to make sure that none of their data will fall in the wrong hands, when they put their phone in an envelope on send it off to Fairphone HQ. So here is our, non-definite, list with tips for erasing your old phone.

Tips for erasing@home:

Before erasing your data, always make sure you have a back-up.
You can migrate your data using a cloud service of your choice on modern devices. On older devices you can use USB-connections to your computer, and SD-card or even a SIM-card to save the contents of your address book.

For all phones:

  • Remove your SIM card
  • Remove the SD-Card (if your phone has one)

For Android:

  • Encrypt your phone: If all your stuff is going to stay within your storage after a factory data reset, you should at least make sure no one can take advantage of it. Encrypting your device won’t stop the software from going through it’s usual deleting process, but any information retrieved from the device will be scrambled. People won’t be able to do a thing with it.
    The exact method for navigating this next step will differ slightly from phone to phone. It will generally be Settings > Security > Encrypt phone

  • Load it with useless data. If you can’t encrypt, factory reset your phone and then pump it full with useless data: video’s and other big files will help you to overwrite the ‘erased’ data faster.

  • On most Android phones, go to Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset and then tap Reset phone or Reset device. On a Samsung Galaxy go to Settings > General Management > Reset > Factory data reset and then tap Reset device.
    The reset method from within Android is advised over the reset procedure that is included in some recovery systems: on newer versions of Android a reset from outside of Android will require you to sign in with a google account that was linked to the phone before the reset when the phone is started again. In effect, currently the only way to reset the device in such a way that somebody else can use the phone after you’ve transferred ownership is from the Settings menu as explained above.

For iOS

  • Tap Settings > General > Reset
  • Then tap Erase All Content and Settings.

Windows Phone

  • Go to Settings
  • Tap About
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap “reset your phone”
  • Press “yes” when the warning prompt appears
  • Warning: You won’t be asked to confirm your password


  • Go to Options
  • Scroll to Security
  • Now scroll to Security Wipe
  • Select all options (Email & Contacts, Applications, Media card)
  • Type the word “blackberry” into the box and hit confirm

Feauture- and dumb-phones:

  • Use the factory reset in the setting menu of your phone.

Please note:

  • This post is a wiki, so if you want to make it better, more clear, use the pencil in the top right corner to edit it.
  • There are way too many phones and models out there for us to test, so these tips might not help you with your phone.
  • If you want to be really sure, always check more resources off- and online for the best tips and/or pay a certified secure erasing company to erase your device.

Got more or better ideas to erase your phone? Please react.