Any kind of personal data that you might have on your computer machine like your past web searches and financial spreadsheets, is something that is very sensitive.
In other words, you do not really want anyone to find it once you are not there to physically take care of your machine.
Fine, you can delete your portion of your personal data that you do not need.
But the problem here is that very few people know the act of wiping one’s data off a given device or even off the web requires a couple of more steps than what they are used to or realize.
You do not need to worry, however.
Because this guide will show all that there is to know about deleting files properly so that no one is able to find it except for perhaps the NSA or the CIA.
How to properly delete files on a tablet and/or smartphone device.
There are lots of reasons why you should think deep and hard about deleting your device’s data in a manner that no one is able to retrieve it later.
Lots of people nowadays get sick of using their tablet and/or smartphone device fairly quickly.
And then they want to sell that device.
Sometimes, people just want to give their unused mobile phone or tablet to one of their relatives likes nephew and niece.
You may want to donate your device to a nearby museum.
In all of such cases and others, if you are sure that the device that you currently own is going to leave your possession forever you should make it absolutely sure that every piece of your data is well and truly deleted from it.
If you do not take care of this problem then there is no guarantee that your next owner would not want to log into the previous owner’s, that is your’s, an official Twitter account.
No one can stop the new owner from flicking through the previous owner’s photos and videos either.
Whatever is the case, you do not want to put yourself in that kind of a position.
Of course, the good news here is that relatively speaking, it is actually easy to delete everything from your mobile device securely.
All you have to make sure before doing that is all of your data is encrypted.
If you think we are asking you to do something that very few people do or is not something that one is supposed to do for extra security then know that encrypting one’s data has become the standard practice pretty much the day Android devices saw Marshmallow version 6.0.
If you do not know when that happened, then it happened in 2015.
There you go.
If you are on the iOS platform, then this practices made it to iOS devices even before that.
So how do you go about protecting your data on your device and/or smartphone/
Well, our research shows that as long as you can ensure that you have a fingerprint or a face or a PIN set up to unlock your tablet or device, you are safe.
More specifically, your data is safe.
The encryption would mean that whenever you decide to factory reset your tablet or phone, it would become virtually impossible for any kind of malicious actor to recover your data.
A malicious actor could try to pry the storage modules right out of the given user’s mobile device and then could try to read through those modules with the help of another machine, but he/she would get nothing because you had remembered to encrypt your data.
Now, with that said, there are still some Android devices that do not make use of encryption by default.
We suggest that you double-check all of your Android devices if they use encryption.
You can do that by first performing a tap on the option that says Security and then clicking the option that says Advanced after you have clicked on the option Settings.
Now, in order to perform a proper factory reset on your Android device, first you need to make sure that you have copied off each and everything that you need and have made a backup of it someplace else.
- When you have done that, you need to go to the Settings menu.
- And then tap the option that says System.
- After that click on Advanced.
- And then on Reset options.
- Then click on the option that says Erase all of my data (factory reset).
- Now, what you need to do is to confirm any and all prompts that come your way and also confirm that you really want your device to launch the factory reset process.
- Once you confirm everything, you are ready and set to go.
For users who are on the iOS platform, they should,
- First, open up the main Settings menu
- Then select General.
- And then tap on Reset.
- After that, they should perform a click on Erase All Content and Settings.
This should effectively leave the user with a smartphone device that is factory-fresh and purged of all of the user’s data.
We would like to mention it again that you should not start the factory-reset or any reset process unless and until you have made sure that you have got all of your audio content, photos, and other stuff someplace safe and have stored it properly.
Your trust computer
Of course, the same concept applies to all of your laptops and desktop machines.
Smartphone devices are not unique in this sense.
The fortunate thing today is that most modern day macOS and Windows machines have gotten much more effective at performing secured wipes.
There was a time not so long ago when you could not trust your machine to do all the hard work for you.
Now, by default, Microsoft Windows 10 does not perform any encryption on any of the user’s storage disks.
However, it has the ability to securely destroy files if you launch a reset process.
Users who want a bit of extra protection for their data and are actively searching the market for a good product should go with VeraCrypt.
Now, what do we mean when we say that Microsoft Windows 10 can easily wipe your data.
Well, we mean that it has the ability to put your files and folders beyond the ordinary reach of any kind of programs that malicious actors use for data recovery.
No third-party applications will be able to get your data back.
Because of that, none of the future owners of your device will be able to pick data right of your old hard drive even after you have moved on from it for years.
Again, make sure that you have backed up any and all of your important data.
Then, you need to,
- First, open up the Windows Settings menu.
- Then you should select the option that says Update & Security.
- After that, you should switch to the tab that says Recovery.
- When that is done, you need to click the option that says Get Started. This option is usually present under the Reset this PC label.
- The next step is to select the option that says Reset Everything.
- When finished, you only need to make sure that you have picked from the next dialog the option that says Remove Files And Clean The Drive.
Users who are on the macOS platform should know that the wiping and resetting process there is straightforward as well.
If a given macOS user has a machine with OS X Yosemite 10.10 (came out in 2014) or later, then the machine should have encryption enabled by default.
The tool that macOS uses in order to encrypt user data is known by the name of FileVault.
If you want to make sure that FileVault tool is up and also running on your machine then you need to,
- First click on the official Apple icon menu
- Then perform a click on the option that says System Preferences
- After that, you should select the option that says Security & Privacy.
- When that is done, you should click on FileVault.
For any reason, if you find that your FileVault tool is disabled, then simply enable it via the same window.
As mentioned before, if you encrypt your data, you actually make it pretty much virtual impossible for anyone to recover.
And when that time comes when you want to do a full reset of your machine, you would know that your machine will carry out a full and final reset.
Did we mention that you should make sure that all of your important files and personal data are copied safely at another location before you actually start the process of factory resetting?
After you have done that, here is what we want you to do,
- First, open up the official Apple menu.
- Then you should select the option that says Restart.
- After that, you need to select the option that says Restart.
- When that is done you should hold down the key combination of Cmd + R. You will do this as your mac machine is trying to restart itself.
- Then we need you to select the option that says Disk Utility.
You should see a list of many options on the current window, so it should not be too hard to do that.
- Then we want you to choose the exact drive that is holding files and the operating system on your computer machine.
- Now look at the top and click the option that says Erase.
- After that, you should select the option that says Mac Os Extended (Journaled).
- Then the machine should prompt you with another window. From there, you need to select the option that says Erase once again.
- Now after your machine has completed the whole process, you actually get the option of choosing to either leave it for the new owner of your machine or reinstall macOS.
If you simply want to turn off your mac machine at this point you should click the Cmd + Q option and then select Shut Down.
How to properly delete data from your online accounts
You should have no trouble in understanding when we say that there is no way for us or anyone else to go through each and every web account that a user may have and then show the user how to delete data from there.
But what we can do is that we can actually give you a few useful pointers on how to delete your data from some of the web services that almost everyone makes use of.
Remember that the options that you will come across will no doubt vary from one service to another online service.
So do not be put off by that.
To take an example, Facebook can actually take up to a total of 90 plus days to delete each and every piece of your profile data.
The company starts the timer when you first decide and tell Facebook to get rid of your online account.
On that note, perhaps we should stick with deleting stuff on Facebook for the next few paragraphs.
Let’s assume that you wish to delete your current Facebook account.
What do you have to do?
Well, you need to follow these steps.
- While you are connected to the web and are on the official Facebook website, you should go to the Settings page.
- From there, you need to click the option that says Your Facebook information.
- Then you need to click on the option that says Delete your account and information.
- After that, you should click on the option that says Delete Account.
At this point, we should remind you that you should do everything in your power to take advantage of all the available data export options that Facebook has listed on the page.
They can prove useful in the future.
- For some reason, if you would like to continue using the official Facebook Messenger app then you should select the option Deactivate Account.
Remember that if you do decide to select this option then Facebook will not erase your personal data.
But the service will hide it away.
Now if you want to delete all of your personal data on Twitter then the process there is simple enough as well.
All that you need to do is this,
- First, you need to go to the Twitter Settings page.
This should not be hard as all that you really need to do is to first launch a web browser and then go to the official Twitter website and then click the appropriate links at the top.
Or you can just click the link that we have provided above.
- Then you need to select the option that says Deactivate your account.
- After that, you should input your current Twitter password and then move to confirm the choice that you have made.
- And that is pretty much it.
You are finished with Twitter.
- Now, for your own happiness, Twitter will make it possible for you to get your Twitter account back even if 29 days have passed since you requested Twitter to delete your account.
After a month has passed, you will not have that option either.
So think about it hard because, after those 30 days, your Twitter account will cease to exist forever.
- Perhaps we should mention at this point that you should export all the data related to your Tweets if you feel like saving them for the future.
We are completely aware of the fact that there are a good number of third-party applications and services that will happily delete a certain subsection of a given user’s Facebook posts and/or Twitter Tweets (of course, we are talking about the owner of the given account here).
But what we want to tell you is that you should never consider such services as reliable.
They are not.
Moreover, from a privacy standpoint, many of them are borderline suspect.
You can always use a VPN to protect your privacy and use some of these.
Click here to learn more about the best VPN services in the world.
However it is very difficult for us to recommend any of such tools really.
If you want to use them then you should use them at your (and only your) own risk.
We have talked a lot about how to delete each and everything that Google has on you in our other guides.
For this guide, you should know that Google is actually very good at keeping organized stacks of data on each and every given user.
It also provides each and everything that it has on a given user via the user’s Activity Control webpage.
Click here to access that.
This is the place that you need to go to if you want to either delete all of your data or erase some of it.
The thing that you need to keep in mind while navigating Google Activity control pages is that the toggle buttons are very important.
These toggle switches basically perform the task of stopping or starting logging data on you in the future.
You can also make use of links available on the My Activity page in order to delete more stuff.
After doing that, if you select the option that says Delete activity by, then you can actually wipe away all the data that Google has recorded on you.
You can do so by date too.
Again, do not forget to make copies of your data for future reference.
If you do not know how to do that on Google, then make use of the Google Takeout service.
We should mention here though that in our experience it is sometimes just easier on everybody if the user just goes into the relevant Google service or app from where he/she wants to delete data.
Let’s take the example of Gmail.
- In Gmail, you have the option of clicking on All Mail which appears on the left-hand side.
- Then look at the not so prominent selection box which appears in the top left corner slightly above the place where the user’s most recent email messages appear.
Click on Select All.
Once you do that, Gmail will inform you of the number of email messages that are present in your current Gmail account.
- After that, you should click on the icon that says Delete in order to kick all those messages straight to the Trash department
- Now, one other thing that you should keep in mind here is that once you delete your email messages, they will continue to live in the Trash universe for a period of 30 days.
After that, they will no longer exist.
Of course, you can simply click the Trash icon and then click the Empty Trash now button in order to annihilate them there and then.
If you have a desire to go absolutely nuclear and each and everything that Apple has stored on you then there is an option for that as well.
When we say, ‘everything Apple has on you’, we mean,
- Your iTunes purchases
- iCloud photos
- iCloud emails
- Calendar entries
We are glad to inform you that Apple itself allows users to do exactly that.
All you have to do right now is to go here.
And once you have managed to sign in with your official Apple ID account, you should have no problems in clicking the option that says Request to Delete Your Account.
Though we will remind you that you should take your sweet time to go through all the information presented on the page and only then confirm the choice that you have made right at the bottom of the current page.
You would not believe the number of places where your data is flowing.
And we suggest that you not think about it as well.
But if you are looking to get rid of your Alexa speaker, then make sure that you click here and then click the button that appears slightly to the left of your own Echo device.
Then click on Manage voice recordings.
And then click Delete.