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How to protect your data when selling your old device

Protect yourself by wiping all your data before listing storage devices, computers and phones.

By Trust and Safety 5 July 2023

Simply deleting files might not always be as secure as you think.

You wouldn't leave your personal documents behind when you move house – and the same applies when you sell your old phone, computer, or hard drive.

We don't often realise just how much stuff we have stored on these devices. Photos, apps, messages, contacts, and documents – your whole life.

When the time comes to upgrade, it's important to make sure your data is completely wiped to avoid it getting into the hands of a stranger later on.

Surely deleting everything is enough, right?

Wrong. Yes, deleting items or performing a factory reset will mean you can't access the files yourself anymore. But they can still linger in the device's storage and be accessed by someone who knows how to retrieve them.

Depending on your device, securely deleting your data might be different from a simple factory reset.

We'll run you through preparing your device for its new home.

1. Back up your files if you want to keep them

First thing first, back up your files if you want to keep them. This is usually really easy to do if you've already got your new device – most devices can help you easily migrate your old device's data and settings to the new one.

If you don't have the new one yet, make a copy of your files on an external drive, or in a cloud storage service, like Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, and Dropbox.

Find out how to back up your:

2. Securely erase your data

The process for this will be different depending on your device.

iPhone & iPad

iOS devices use a secure encryption key, and once a factory reset has been done, the key is deleted – meaning the data generally can't be recovered. Except maybe for a forensic data recoverer, but most people aren't forensic data recoverers.

Find out how to factory reset your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Android phones & tablets

Some Android devices are encrypted, and some aren't. It's important to check that your data is encrypted before you erase your device and sell it.

Find out how to securely erase your Android device.


The process for Mac computers will depend on the model. Some Macs will have an 'Erase all content and settings' option in the System Settings or System Preferences app. For other Macs, there are a few more steps to wiping the system.

Check out Apple's guide to find out what to do.


With Windows, things can vary even more, since there are many different types of hardware between systems. For most people, the 'Clean data' option will be secure enough. If you have high-stakes sensitive data though, it's a good idea to look at using disk utility software to securely wipe the data.

Learn more about wiping your drive on a Windows machine.

3. List it on Trade Me!

Now that your device has been securely erased, it's ready to be listed on Trade Me!

Need help selling your item?

Check out our Help Centre for all the how-tos.

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Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety