Wiping Old Electronics Clean

People get rid of 30 million computers and more than 120 million cell phones each year. Before you dispose of your electronic devices, don't make the mistake of failing to erase your personal data.'

Consumer Reports tells you how.

Recycling electronic devices without erasing your personal info is asking for trouble.

Larry Daniel of Guardian Digital Forensics says, "You're literally giving your personal information out to the criminal world."

The best way to protect yourself-erase your personal data.

On the iPhone it's easy. Got to "Settings." Click on "general" then press "Reset" and select "Erase All Content and Settings."

Consumer Reports' computer expert Dean Gallea says erasing info on Android phones is a little more complicated. Usually you go to "Settings" and choose "Privacy." Then you have to consult the manual online for the next steps.

To erase a personal computer, you need to download software. A good choice is from DBAN.org.

Paul Reynolds of Consumer Reports says, "You download the software and put it on a CD. Then you put the CD 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 software to erase your files.

Reynolds says, "You put it in the computer's disc drive. And you reboot it, holding down the "C" key during startup."

Once the computer's booted up, choose "Utilities," then "Disc Utility." Select "Hard Drive," then hit "Erase."

If you think you don't have enough time to wipe your device, think again.

Daniel says, "Criminal enterprises live off of personal data. They love a hard drive that they can get their hands on."

After you've erased your computer and cell phones, Consumer Reports says double check everything is gone. And cell phones also come with external cards. If you don't plan to keep the card, erase it as well.

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